Inbound Marketing Techniques

Three Rules to Create A Persuasive Free Offer

Attracting customers with the word FREE is a technique as old as marketing itself.

The prospect of getting “something for nothing” makes people more likely to engage and imparts a subconscious need for them to give back. So what formula can site owners use to craft their Persuasive Free Offer (PFO)? To woo new customers with a PFO, site owners must follow three rules:

  1. Get the visitor’s attention. Even the most compelling offer will go unused if visitors are not aware that it exists. The PFO must be incredibly obvious and it’s okay to repeat the offer more than once. If visitors don’t see the offer, the PFO failed.
  2. Provide value. The PFO must resonate with the visitor so they accept the offer. But that’s just the first hurdle. The PFO must deliver on its promise to actually help the visitor. If the PFO doesn’t have a positive impact on the visitor, they will reject the relationship altogether.
  3. Make a sustainable offer. Large coupons and steep discounts are not a sustainable strategy for most site owners. The PFO cannot be so costly that it causes the site owner to go broke. Focus on a small, easy to consume offer that demonstrates expertise, solves a problem faced by the visitor, and/or contains data that allows the visitor to take immediate action.

Interestingly this framework applies to “Free Sample” stands in supermarkets. This strategy is extremely popular, and it’s even a tradition in places like Costco. Free Sample stands are huge attention getters, they provide immediate value and feedback, and they are cost effective. We wish it was just as easy to handout free food online because that’s the perfect way to build trust. But even digital goods can establish a bond between the site owner and the visitor. A “bite size” sample can pave the way to a long term relationship.

Consumers line up for free samples at the supermarket. How can site owners implement a similar trust-building strategy for digital goods and services?