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What’s So Special About FREE?

It’s kind of like being on vacation with your wife and stumbling upon a topless beach. Even if you have no interest, you gotta look when you see the word FREE.

Nothing has been more overused in ads than the word FREE. And yes, unscrupulous companies use the word FREE to aid their bait-and-switch schemes.
But if used the right way, the word FREE can make a big difference in your ads. And offering something FREE does not mean your product is low-end or cheap.
Look at the luxury hotels that were built in Beijing, China for the Olympics. There were too many hotels built, and in this economy they have too few overnight stays. So do they lower the $400 room price to attract more customers? Nope. They offer a FREE night when you book two others. 
Why? Because they keep the value of their rooms and the image of their hotel high, and suggest the FREE room is a perk for “special customers.” 
The hotels know that customers won’t be bragging about having spent $400 per night; rather, they’ll brag about having saved $400 on a room there.
Probably not. Overall lower prices are probably better in the long run. But subconsciously, you feel like you’ve won a mini-lottery when you get something FREE.
Consider the lowly cardboard coffee cards at gas stations. Next to the license and pictures of the kids, most men’s wallets contain one. Buy six cups of coffee, and if you haven’t lost your card like I usually do, you get a cup FREE.
Have your birthday dinner at certain restaurants and you can eat FREE. Of course the four people you bring with you pay full price and hopefully like the food and service enough to come back again.
Have you heard of REWARD PROGRAMS? It’s just FREE stuff by another name. Buy 
enough products and earn enough Reward Points so you can get something FREE.
High-end cars like BMWs offer FREE oil changes and even brake pads for as long as you own the car. That helps you ignore the $700 a month car payment.
Buy your windshield wiper blades at AutoZone and they’ll put them on your car FREE. You’d pay a lot less for the same blades at WalMart, but the cashier is too busy waiting on the lady with five crying kids to put your wiper blades on.

Some firms offer something FREE that nobody expects to pay for, and then wonder why they don’t get response to their ads. Is a FREE ESTIMATE really a selling point if everyone offers it?
Take a quick glance at this article — what word stands out? What kept you reading?
It’s not the right offer for everyone, but just like the topless beach, when you see the word FREE, you gotta look.
Stay tuned and stay smart.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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