Despite spending most of my time working on my own startups, I find myself drawn to reading about what other people are up to, or making use of - whether it
5 Marketing Strategies That Use Free Stuff
Here are some great ideas that incorporate free stuff (products and services) in order to generate trust, improve revenue and grow your business.
Most consumers like getting free stuff (especially online consumers), so giving away a valuable free offering can help to drive traffic, generate buzz, earn trust, and make money.
This article will give you five great ideas for free product and service offerings that you can integrate into an existing organization or use to help grow a startup.
Why offer free stuff?
Don't think of free stuff as giving something away. It's not! It's an opportunity to market and gain exposure.
In other words, you are buying the right to expose potential customers to your business - naturally, the type of product or service you give for free should also be a great demonstration of your commercial products, service, skills and expertise.
In a very real sense, a free offering is one of the most cost effective ways to market. In fact, depending on how much ongoing time, effort and cost goes into maintaining a free offering, you might even view it as free marketing.
However, unlike traditional marketing and advertising, offering a free product has an additional advantage in the sense that customers get something out of it.
Perhaps they were able to improve their business, build a useful report, get something done, whatever it is, they have benefited in some way or other.
By giving first, you help customers trust that you:
- have a quality product or service
- aren't going to rip them off
In the world of online business, trust is everything!
5 top ideas offering free stuff
There are a number of different and unique ways to incorporate a free offering into your business model. Here are five ways that you might consider providing value for free to potential customers.
Remember too that a free offering is also a completely new and distinct opportunity to market yourself. After creating a free offering, hit social media, news, traditional media, and drum up additional exposure.
The freemium model allows customers to use a free version of a product or service, that charges for premium features.
Plenty of companies operate very successfully using this model. Some popular examples include:
- LinkedIn: Offers free basic accounts and access to groups, news feeds, etc. Paid upgrades offer features like inMail.
- avast!: offers good quality anti-virus protection for free, but requires paid subscription for full protection.
Long term subscriptions or services are especially suited to freemium type offers. If you are selling consumable goods or perishable items, consider one of the other offerings first.
2. Free eBooks
Free eBooks are relatively cheap to create and offer very effective marketing and revenue generation potential.
An eBook should offer plenty of value - high quality information that is directly relevant and useful to your target market in general. The value in offering a free eBook is that you control the content and message that is getting across to those potential paying customers and so not only build up trust by giving them something of value but benefit from having their focus and being able to communicate directly with them.
3. Free trial
Free trials are almost a necessity these days.
Trust is such a scarce commodity on the Internet, that consumers are simply not willing to pay for anything that they can't use first, or hasn't been directly recommended to them by a trusted friend or colleague. Many high quality services offer time limited free trials (i.e. try our service for free for 30 days).
The value in offering a free service is that customers invest their time and effort into your product or service, making them less likely to go somewhere else at the end of the trial. Good examples of excellent free trial offers are most evident in the top online eCommerce website builders (because competition is so high).
4. Free analysis/quote/audit
Companies specializing in offering technical skills and expertise can benefit from offering to generate quotes for free.
By providing a free quote that gives the client a bit of valuable insight into their operations, problem, or requirements, you position yourself as the go-to service for the paid contract to implement the requirements identified in your free report.
Free quotations are time consuming, however, and the Internet is not short of people who will happily waste your time with no real intention of purchasing.
Offer free analysis or quotations only if they are not too time consuming or too much of a drain on resources. Alternatively, offer them only for clients who meet certain per-determined conditions (i.e. companies with more than 25 employees, websites with more than 50 000 visits per month, etc).
5. Completely free
As horrific as it sounds to build something around a completely free offering, it's worth taking time to note that Google built itself by offering completely free services. In fact, Google's founders intentionally avoided commercial considerations for a long time during Google's startup phase.
Low cost, digital products and online services are the best candidates for going completely free. Earnings can be generated by leveraging your user base to market other products and services, advertising, and more.
What it comes down to is this: If you can build a large, engaged community online, you can make money. How you do it is up to you, but the easiest way is to offer something for free!
What other ideas do you have for offering free stuff to generate revenue online? Share your money making tips and tricks in the comments, or follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to continue the conversation.
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