So does its best friend ‘Discount”.
It is so tempting to make your offer irresistable by making it free in the hope that you’ll suddenly be flooded with clients who want what you’ve got. The problem is that they don’t stick around. Believe me, I know.
I used to have an online store where I indulged myself in my passion for sterling silver jewellery. I love the stuff. By having a shop it justified my purchases. But shh, that’s another story.
The competition amongst online jewellery stores is fierce and in the fight to claim market share I’d see stores offering discounts and giveaways. I even joined a scheme which was supposed to bring us heaps of shoppers if we just gave away a few free items a month. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t work.
The problem is that the people who want ‘free’ only ever want ‘free’. They aren’t going to pay for your services. They can’t see enough value in anything to warrant them pulling out their wallets and handing over some money.
Discounting your services is just as bad. All you do then is to set a new benchmark. You create a whole new pricing structure and set of expectations in your clients. “Oh, just wait a while. She’ll discount it again.” So they wait and you wait and eventually you give in to get the sale. It’s the start of a nasty downward spiral.
Why not do what the clever marketers are doing and add value? You KNOW that the ‘freeple’ won’t buy anyway. Why not target the ones who will and make the offer a good one by adding something they’d like? It doesn’t always have to cost you money. Use your imagination, call on some contacts, create a joint venture – anything that adds value. And by value, I mean value to the client. They are the ones who determine what is and isn’t value.
Do I use ‘free’ any more? Yes I do, but not in the same way. Now I sometimes give things away to loyal clients and as thank you gifts. I believe that people who are established clients deserve something special every now and again. They’ve shown that they respect you and your work and they can see value. They aren’t seeking freebies and favours. I do it when I can see a need and know that the client either hasn’t seen it or is fully committed and can’t manage it just then. They support my business so I support theirs however I can.
So what does ‘free’ get you? It gets you a fat lot of nothing if you use it the wrong way but it might also get you a client that is happily surprised at the bonus you drop into their lap. if you’re going to give something away for free make sure it brings you a good return.