Why Free Works

Have you ever tried a free sample, signed up for a free trial, or took something for a test drive? Of course – we all have. The concept of “free trials” isn’t anything new – and in a marketplace of extreme competitiveness, the “freemium” model of giving a little something away with the hope of a big return is hotter than ever.

I’m a big, big believer in the “freemium” model myself. Why? Because it works. I know first hand as a consumer that I’m much more likely to buy something if I can try it first – and a little sample goes a long way.

I love what John says over at StickySheep, using “wine tasting” as an example:

Wine tastings are samplings at the most simplest level. Whether it is a tasting through a retail store or a local vineyard, the goal is the same. The marketing team wanted you to be part of the experience. Liking the wine-of-the-day was not the objective. In fact, they probably didn’t have exclusivity on that wine. You can get that wine at other places. It’s not the wine they are selling. It was customer service. They wanted you to be comfortable with the store. They wanted you to meet and greet their staff. What better way to meet someone, then over a glass of wine? Through conversation with them, or just with friends, you experienced the store. That experience pays off later, when it’s time to purchase wine.

Of course you’ll have some folks like me who go to a place like Sam’s Club and nosh on the free samples of mozzarella sticks without any intent to actually buy them, but while the mozzarella stick company may not benefit, you better believe Sam’s Club knows what they’re doing. It’s literally impossible to escape that place without a 64 rolls of toilet paper, 25 pairs of socks, or 5 gallons of milk. The free food samples and nice old ladies cancel out the nightmare of spending 2 1/2 hours wandering around in that retail warehouse.

It’s all about the experience – and creating a positive experience that leaves your customers wanting more. What experience are you creating for your customers?

What success have you had with the “freemium” model? How do you toe the line between offering giving something away and giving too much away?

(Image c/o bsabarnowl)

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