Give It for FREE– Why FREE Stuff Actually Encourages Purchase

Sounds ironic, right? You want to earn money by selling your products and services. But my subject head says “give it for free.” Why so? Here are 3 simple reasons that explain my statement:

1. The Law of Reciprocity. This law simply says “when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return.” I’m sure that all of us have been in a situation when someone gives us a gift, or does a favor for us, then we feel that we have to do something for them in return. It’s natural in all human beings.

So, when you give free stuff– FREE content in your website or fan page, FREE taste of your product, FREE samples during events, FREE 30-day trial, etc… The customers will feel like you’ve given them much favor. (If your product is good, of course) Then they will be compelled to buy something from you. Example: I went to a free learning event of National Book Store entitled Philippine Writers and Readers Festival. But they also had books for sale during the event at a discounted price. I ended up buying two books that cost P1,400 in total. Why not? Event was for free! So for me, it’s worth it to buy at least one book. But obviously I ended up buying two. For sure a lot of attendees felt the same way.

2. Doubting Thomas’ statement: ““Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” The apostle, Thomas didn’t want to believe any promises before he could see and experience it. Customers today are like that! Advertising is not enough. They have to hear referrals from friends, they have to read how the reviews are like.

But with free trials, you’re giving the target market an idea of how it feels like to use your product or service. They will already see it, feel it, use it. And when they like it (or love it), there is a very high chance (20% to 90%) of purchase. Plus word of mouth too. Ever had a software that you used for 30 days free, and ended up purchasing it? (Or you probably forgot about the 30 days, and just continued using it) That’s how it works.

3. Customers just love free stuff. Period. I went to Book Expo America in Chicago last May. It was a crazy expo. 90% of books were given away for free. Hardbound, paperback, unedited copies, comic books, you name it. So as I was walking in book wonderland, I just grabbed whatever books I can. I didn’t even look at the back covers. If I found it cute, I get it. Then I regretted it at the end because my bags weighed 1000 tons.

People get free stuff– pens, candies, stickers, bookmarks. Once they get it for free, it instantly gives them a good mood and a good perception about your product. Even though you’re not sure if they will use it, they will surely pass it on to someone who might use it. And that’s word of mouth for you already. If they use the free sample, and they like it, it will be easier for you to get a testimonial from that customer and use it for advertising purposes. An important note though– make sure you give away free samples to a population of your target market. If your target market are young female professionals, but find yourself sampling in an all-boys university, your efforts will all go to waste. Go to where your market is.

Another way of giving a freebie: If you’re too tight on budget, giving a freebie as a way of retaining first time buyers can work too. Or, giving a freebie to your loyal customers can also be a good loyalty program. A freebie will make your customer feel that they get more than they paid for. And as the Law of Reciprocity states, they are bound to buy from you some more.

So are you still afraid to give away free stuff? Don’t be! If you know that your product is good and can address a need to your target market, then investing on FREE is a good path to take.

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