It’s hard to say whether consumers have fewer expendable funds, have become savvier, or if brands have joyfully shifted into the new era without question, but one thing is clear more and more companies are leaning into a price tag of free. Giving products away free seems counter intuitive on the surface but the returns can hugely outweigh that tiny hit you take in the pocket. You will struggle to find someone who doesn’t love a good freebie, but there is a subtle art in providing this zero label to the consumer and though it works for almost every company in one form it’s necessary to look at the different marketing variations in which free works for those providing it.
This promotional tool can be used at any time during the lifetime of your product. Draw some attention to your social media page by offering the chance for someone who shares your advertisement to win a free product. Not only does this actively engage your current and future audience it makes them do a great deal of legwork for you. The key here is to make the prize highly desirable, but don’t overuse this idea as it can lose steam if customers don’t believe the promotion to be rare.
Probably one of the most used tools under the free banner. The free trial tantalises the consumer with full access to your product for a limited period, the hope here being that once they are hooked, they won’t want to leave. Many free trials can only be set up with an ongoing subscription (though many allow immediate cancellation) meaning that without intervention those who signed up free will eventually become paying members automatically. This promo tool is common in attracting new customers to fresh digital products but can also be used permanently for subscription-based services.
First Go Free
You may have seen this occur at theme parks, or even at physical product launches. It is a great technique if you have a brick and mortar storefront and want to garner some attention. Not only do the inevitable queues make onlookers keen to investigate, they force consumers to jump aboard earlier than usual too. If you have enough eager people you may even make the local news with your round the block lines, make sure you take care of those people in it for the long haul here as they will be walking billboards for your product afterwards.
This is a much more contemporary format, commonly used by apps and steadily overtaking the games industry. Freemium makes your product perpetually free, however, the free version lacks the features of paid (premium) version and thus tempts the consumer to upgrade. This variation has become a little controversial as many companies have exploited the format, adverts and a slower progression rate in games are some of the accepted elements of this style but should be implemented with control. When executed correctly freemium is a win for both sides as the payment barrier is dropped for the consumer, you reach a much larger audience and those dedicated and heavy users of your product will happily upgrade.