How to Use ‘Free’ to Your Advantage

There’s a huge difference between marketing a service as ‘free’ and marketing it as ‘premium’ with a free incentive. Never underestimate the negative connotations that ‘free’ has on the anticipated quality of service.

As marketers, we tend to assume that free is always a good thing. And so our landing pages are plastered in free registrations, free bonuses and free instant access.

The worst offending affiliates will explain that something is free before explaining what it actually does. They sell the $0 before the product!

Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

A lot of items are free in this world.

I could run outside and steal my neighbour’s garbage. That’s free.

I could spend £20 at Pizza Hut and get some free BBQ wings. But will I? Probably not. I don’t like wings.

Unless you establish a real desire to attain what is being offered for free, free does not sell.

So, why do affiliates continue to worship the supposed ‘benefit’ that X costs $0, when the user could barely give a shite about ‘free’. He doesn’t want free. He wants a good deal.

Note: Hey, at least they’re selling it as a benefit rather than a feature. Otherwise we really would be shooting basic psychology in the balls.

Free only becomes a powerful asset in your sales copy after the user has established “what I think X is worth to me“. And not a moment before.

This is where so many get it wrong. They never allow that worth to be established.

You have to establish value to create desire.

Here’s an example for a dating offer I posted on the Stack That Money Forum last week (sign up!)…

Meet the finest men in New York City for just $37/month*
Sign up in the next 15 minutes for an exclusive FREE peek at our men

*Most of our women only pay $37 once. Don’t be surprised if you find the man of your dreams before your trial membership expires. Yep, it sucks for us, but it’s unmissable value for you. This is your last chance to sign up free, so hurry!

Instead of taking the angle that the offer is free and therefore unmissable, it’s much more powerful to ask probing questions of the user’s own valuation system.

To put it more bluntly, here’s the thought sequence that we’re dictating…

  1. The service is not free.
  2. It must be a quality service.
  3. Women are paying $37 to find love in their first 30 days.
  4. Would I pay $37 if it meant finding love?

Most women are going to answer yes to this dream scenario.

Now that we’ve created an anchor where the possibility of finding love is worth at least $37 (in the user’s own head, where all effective anchors reside), we can drop our bombshell.

Hold on, If I sign up in the ‘next 15 minutes’… I don’t have to pay a penny? But what about all those women paying $37/month?

We’ve already established $37 as a bargain price. Now we’re hitting our target with a simply unmissable deal (free instant access!) compounded by the scarcity of time.

Act in the next 15 minutes or an exclusive peek at a premium service is gone forever.

There are many affiliate offers that use free incentives to attract sign-ups, and we are more than happy to oblige when it comes to making those incentives our number one selling points.

It’s amateur. We should be embarrassed.

The word ‘free’ should never appear in a landing page headline.

Our role is to establish a desire that is worth much more than any free service can provide.

Once we’ve created that desire, ‘free’ is the sucker punch that seals a knife-edge deal. It should never be the primary selling point.

Remember: Marketing always leads back to selling something – it wouldn’t exist if we only dealt in freebies.

Recommended This Week

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About the author

Finch
Finch

Hi, I’m Finch. A 26 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who makes a lot of money from the Internet.

  • http://Twitter.com/vitico46 Vitico

    You my man are a genius!

  • http://www.layeredthoughts.com Darrin

    good shit man! I covered a different angle of this here: http://www.layeredthoughts.com/startups/the-psychological-difference-between-freemium-free-trial-plans

    I definitely feel like people fling around free, freemium, free trial and all the other stuff way too flippantly. Gotta match the proper delivery mechanism to the product

  • Jonas

    Really great post!

  • http://www.realaffiliatereviews.blogspot.com Real affiliate reviews

    This post is awesome dude. I never thought that way.

  • bayu

    damn..your blog is just great ! and i even talk like a comment spammer :)

  • Joe

    Hey Finch. Saw your post on Thai Visa, are you heading back to Bangkok?

  • Finch
  • Pete

    Hi Finch,

    Following on in the theme of writing a completely unrelated – but ‘helpful’ comment:

    Did you know that the top horizontal menu (one with HOME in it) of this blog is virtually invisible in Google Chrome?

    Not sure if it’s just my monitor; the menu bar is visible in IE and FF browsers, but in Chrome is just appears as a creamish coloured blank bar (text is very feint).

  • Max

    Brilliant post man. Keep it up.

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