You’ve probably heard the phrase “moving the free line” over the past few years. This refers to the fact that some things which used to be paid are now free.
For example, Google is one of the kings of this. They provide a dozen plus free applications which you would have had to pay for years ago.
But there is a huge trade off in this. They’re tracking EVERYTHING you do in your Google account. And they’re using all this information to deliver the most profitable ads they can to you.
Because that’s their business…selling advertising.
Why do they offer free Gmail? So they can track email habits and run advertising space relevant to what you’re receiving emails on. Why do they provide their keyword tools? So you can find more keywords to advertise on.
Why do they provide free Analytics for your site? They now have the most detailed research machine at their fingertips from across the entire web.
It’s a little scary when you think about it…how much knowledge and information they have in front of them…all designed to help them sell more ads.
But this concept of offering freebies and moving the free line isn’t new…not in the least.
Claude Hopkins talked about it almost a century ago. I went through his book Scientific Advertising at least a dozen times and even put together a Scientific Internet Advertising ebook at one point sharing how his message applied to the Internet today.
Here’s a quote from his book…
“The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. Often they do not quote a price. They do not say that dealers handle the product. The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information.
They cite advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a sample, or to buy the first package, or to send something on approval, so the customer may prove the claims without any cost or risks.
Some of these ads seem altruistic. But they are based on the knowledge of human nature. The writers know how people are led to buy. Here again is salesmanship. The good salesman does not merely cry a name. He doesn’t say, “Buy my article.”
He pictures the customers side of his service until the natural result is to buy.
A brush maker has some 2,000 canvassers who sells brushes from house to house. He is enormously successful in a line which would seem very difficult. And it would be for his men if they asked the housewives to buy. But they don’t.
They go to the door and say, “I was sent here to give you a brush. I have samples here and I want you to take your choice.” The housewife is all smiles and attention. In picking out one brush she sees several she wants. She is also anxious to reciprocate the gift. So the salesman gets an order.
Another concern sells coffee, etc., by wagons in some 500 cities. The man drops in with a half-pound of coffee and says, “Accept this package and try it. I’ll come back in a few days to ask how you liked it.”
Even when he comes back he doesn’t ask for an order. He explains that he wants the women to have a fine kitchen utensil. It isn’t free, but if she likes the coffee he will credit five cents on each pound she buys until she has paid for the article.”
You can definitely see that text comes from an old book (with the language and the sales examples – especially that price at the end).
But look at how important “free samples” were back then to the selling process.
And that’s a good term for what we do in information marketing. We provide “free samples.” It might be an article. It might be an ebook. It could be a webinar, but it’s a free sample of what we’re offering.
Look at the free samples big companies offer today. Go through some grocery stores and you’ll be offered samples of cereal, meat, desserts, etc. Or you can cut out coupons for product samples.
In all these cases, these are consumable items. You need to keep buying them to get the benefits.
Your free sample should NOT solve your customer’s full problem. Or else they have no reason to buy from you at all…just keep getting the free stuff.
What is the proper balance? That’s one of the items we’ll be covering in this month’s issue of the Monthly Mentor Club. Right now it’s being prepared and will be mailed out to all subscribers on May 10th. If you’re already a member, like many of my readers, you’ll be getting the issue in your mailbox soon.
If you’re not, give it a try today. In addition to this upcoming issue, you’ll receive over a dozen bonuses in all just for giving it a try (some of which are not even mentioned on the site).