Giving away free products or services is a classic marketing strategy and a great way to gain attention. Kaufman notes, however, and this has also been true in my experience that you better make sure you’re giving away something of real value. Otherwise, your audience won’t care enough about your give away or they’ll see right away that this is some cheap marketing tactic and it’ll leave a bad taste in their mouth.
When I was building a list of leads for the pre-launch of my subscriptions business, I utilized this very strategy. Subscribers to my email list were given the opportunity to win a lifetime, pipe tobacco subscription. To my potential customers, this was hugely valuable, but the cost to me wasn’t all that high. I think this played a large role in my success at quickly building a large email list.
Kaufman again later warns that you must also be careful not to give too much away. He explains that “Giving Free value attracts attention, but always remember that attention alone doesn’t pay the bills.” Over the past year, I’ve been tempted to run free, promotional offers to get my customers over any initial sticker shock. I realized, however, that this would ultimately undercut my bottom line and that there were plenty of other people willing to pay the price. I think the lesson to be learned here is that giving products away for free is a powerful tool, but it can also act as a double-edged sword.