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The power of ‘freebies’ in marketing

Customers Like Freebies But Creating Incentives Delivers Sustainable Value

In the digital age competition is everywhere – even local Australian businesses have to fight off competition from national and international sources. Finding a compelling competitive advantage in a world of choice is becoming increasingly difficult.

Often businesses face a battle weaning consumers away from entrenched competition or even just convincing them to buy your product or service. This seduction needs a powerful emotional or rational inducement but it’s important to remember that freebies, like other marketing initiatives, have less of an impact as a standalone effort – there is a need for comprehensive marketing strategies.

Nothing attracts more than a free offer regardless of product category. Marketing efforts must leverage ‘free offers’ smartly to attract its target audience and then subtly phase in pricing so that consumer starts respecting the offering (if anything is available for free for a long time, people start doubting its quality). Consumer boredom is the biggest enemy of any promotional campaign; and an intermittent ‘free offer’ breathes new life to old or ongoing products/services campaigns.

Freebies can be a great incentive to get existing customers to promote your business – especially in the age of social media where endorsing your product or service only takes the click of a social media button.

Omnipotent Free Offers

‘Free offers’ are one of the most compelling rational brand inducements for attracting consumers. A well researched freebie offer can even connect with the user at an emotional or sentimental level in addition to the immediate logical reason (zero risk in purchase). For example a toothpaste brand can offer free dental health checkups. While the rational benefit would be useful, no cost check-ups, the emotional connect would be the ‘we care about your well being’ feelings conveyed to target consumers by the toothpaste brand.

Freebies in promotional campaigns help build immediate brand connections and if maintained intelligently can lead to sustainable brand loyalty too. Small incentives have a powerful effect in marketing – it doesn’t have to apply to products, complimentary after-sales services and even gift vouchers at Christmas and birthdays can hugely influence brand loyalty. Such enticing freebies breed a relationship with your customer. Relationships, whether business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) are the foundation for brand loyalty, so establishing and maintaining good relationships with consumers will have a powerful benefit for your business.

Freebies for New Products Launches

New product and service launches face a user dilemma – how to induce existing users to try their untested or unknown offering. Offering free samples of the new offerings is one of the best methods to demonstrate the usefulness of the new product/service. Even the world’s largest software companies offer limited period trial versions of their offerings in the hope that the customer will get ‘hooked’ by the useful features and buy it at a later date. Freebies and trial (beta) versions in the technology sectors also help the manufacturers and service providers to gauge consumer responses through value-added critique of their products which can then allow the manufacturer to modify the offering accordingly.

Freebie Packaging

Brands with new and unknown products and services often face a big credibility crisis for their brands. In such cases co-branding and affiliate marketing is a proven method for achieving faster success. Here too, freebies are of great help. Even though the brand clout of your offer partner (co-branding company or affiliate) is far more; he needs to talk positively about your offering.

A freebie is thus needed to compel users of the co-branding or affiliate to start faster sampling of your new offering. Freebies also kick start a useful viral/ word-of-mouth-advertising appeal. “You know, Myer is offering 2 T-shirts free with a pair of Lee Jeans and it’s there only for the next week ” – this promotional offer could spread like wild-fire, enlisting brand supporters to the unknown T-shirt brand (as they are convinced that their trusted brand will not let them down by selling an inferior offering).

Think Word Of Mouth In Your Marketing Campaigns

Word of mouth has always been a huge driver of business growth – like-minded consumers endorsing products and services. Now, in the digital age, word of mouth is instantaneously delivered to hundreds of friends through Facebook, LinkedIn and other social network sites. Offering freebies and incentives to consumers willing to promote your product or service can have a powerful impact on your business.