An Ounce of Free / A Ton of Business

Sample Your Business To Win(Photo by Richard Munckton)

If you’re just starting out, how can you get your business noticed by prospective customers? Give away samples…carefully.

We have all been in stores or markets and stopped to try out a sample of a product: snack foods, drinks, hand cream, or even small servings of main courses. Stores do this because it works on a number of levels: people can’t resist something free, people feel obligated to spend a minute talking with the sales person, and there’s no competition for attention.

The problem with “free” is that people perceive value based on the price you charge. If you’re giving away your product or services, at a subconscious level people are thinking what you’re offering isn’t good. That’s why it’s important to anchor the “free” with a perceived value (“This product or service will be launched at a premium price in the near future, but to gain awareness, we’re simply letting people decide for themselves how wonderful it is”).

Some businesses are even based around the “freemium” model – give the product away, but charge for upgrades to a “premium” model (no advertising, additional features, customer service, customization, etc.). Freemium works well for intangible products like software, where it doesn’t cost the manufacturer anything make hundreds more of the same product.

From your business marketing’s perspective, think of “free” as a way to focus test your new offering. Give people the experience of your offering, but in exchange, be sure to watch and listen to their reaction. It’s likely to be money and time well spent.

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