When Free Is Appropriate (And When It’s Not)!

Dec 21, 2012 | Marketing, Public relations

Sean D'Souza When Free is AppropriateHere’s a guest post from Sean D’Souza, who is an expert at writing persuasive copy…

How powerful is the word F-R-E-E? And where do you draw the line between offering products and services free vs. charging?

Hard question to answer isn’t it? Everyone tells you, you should be incentivizing your products/services by offering them complimentary. And yet, everybody tells you that ‘free’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

If you’re confused, you should be

And in about thirty three seconds from now (if you’re a slow reader), you’ll know exactly what you should do so that the confusion is wiped out forever.

What’s the simple formula for free vs. paid?

You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again. Give the ideas, sell the system. That’s it. (Are your thirty three seconds up yet?)

Give the ideas, sell the system

If you’re a consultant or an independent professional, your ideas are the information you give away free. This could be in the form of a speech; perhaps a teleclass; maybe a booklet; or a brochure; or your website.

Whatever means you use, you give away one powerful idea at a time. And go into great depth on that particular idea.

So what’s the difference between the idea and the system? 
Your question is: What if I explain the idea so well, that I give away the system. An idea is one component of your system. So if you’re speaking about ‘How to run a better 100 metres’, you talk about the idea of training. Or the idea of wind factor. Or the idea of diet. Or the idea of equipment. The system comes to life, when all the ideas integrate. The customer can then follow the steps systematically, to test and measure if the system is really working.

But what if you’re selling a product? 
Say you’re selling a photocopy machine. Or a puppy. Or dessert after a meal. Hmmmm….It’s easy enough to sell the dessert. To give the client an idea, all you have to do is give them a taste of the dessert. Once that gooey chocolate sample melts in their mouth, you’ll be sure to see their eyes glaze over, as they order the ‘full’ dessert.

But puppies. And photocopy machines. How on earth are you going to give that away? The best way is to make sure the puppy is given away whole. The family is given the chance to take the puppy home for the weekend for a small deposit. The same goes for the photocopy machine.

Example, example: Technically you can find the Brain Audit on the site. Yes you can. If you read all the articles and figure out how all the pieces come together. The articles are all complete in themselves. They give you parts of the Brain Audit, but they don’t give you the step-by-step system. They don’t give you the comments or what can possibly go wrong when you implement the system without reading the book first.

Which brings us to the headline of this article: Ideas. Give ideas away freely. And as much as you possibly can. Keep the system separate. And tie in your system to the idea, so that when your customer gets the idea or the concept, they want to buy into the system.

Sean D’Souza is a marketer with a deep understanding of how customers think. He has worked extensively with one of the best advertising agencies in the world on copywriting, writing TV commercials (and learning how to do them in 5 seconds), graphic design, cartoons and web design.

Specialties: Understanding why customers buy. And more importantly what stops them from signing on the dotted line, at the very last second. The science and art of persuasion. Learn more about Sean at www.psychotactics.com.

Who else should read this? Please share!

Recent Posts

LinkedIn Profile Tips for High School Students

Is high school too early to set up a LinkedIn profile? College students know that a presence on LinkedIn will help them find and apply for jobs. But most high school students are years away from a full-time job search. Does it make sense for you, too? Yes, absolutely....

How Do the CEOs of the Biggest SaaS Companies Use LinkedIn?

Have you ever wondered how the titans of the tech world wield their influence on LinkedIn? We peeked behind the curtain to discover the practices and patterns of successful SaaS CEOs on the platform where the buzz is all business. I write a lot about LinkedIn — why it...

SaaS CEO Leadership Styles on LinkedIn

Much has been written about the leadership styles of CEOs, and a simple Google search delivers plenty of in-depth research on which ones are most prevalent and most effective, depending on your company and your goals. It’s clear that CEO leadership style plays a...