We had a discussion a few months back, about freebies. It involved an
accounting package that`s purportedly as easy to use as Quickbooks, but
with something useful. The problem for the owner was how come nobody is
buying that package.
In the conversation, it turned out he`s offering a free trial, 30-days,
just like most software and that got us talking about freebies, free
trials, giveaways, and the like.
I`m forming the opinion that maybe 70 years ago, when a "work ethic"
was easier to see, and moral principles were readily apparent, "free"
carried with it one kind of sense. People felt a little badly about
taking something for free. They felt they should do something in return.
Nowadays, so many people believe the world owes them a living,
everything should be free, and they haven`t the slightest interest in
whether or not free implies some sort of return. Look at the growing
generation of Web "kids" who just assume you can get whatever music,
video, art, content, or anything else for free. They`re astonished that
anyone would mention "intellectual property rights."
So too, the discussion included Kregg, who owns a software application.
He tested the idea of the freebies and giveaways and found almost no
noticeable increase in sales. Instead, the secondary headaches of
answering support questions, handling complaints when people couldn`t
get their free copy, and things like that, caused even more problems.
Kathy and I tried offering a free gift with any purchase. It was like
the prize in a CrakerJacks box. We found people mostly wanted the
product, and didn`t much care if it came with a freebie. For a few
people, the word "free" might have been an attraction, but it didn`t
really do all that much.
I`d say that advertising and marketing materials are already "free," in
that they`re giveaways. That would include offers like free shipping, or buy one get one free.
But what really do you gain by giving away the
actual product? I think it`s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other,
where if you offer a limited product, then "If you like this, pay the
money for the remainder," people just get mad. Those you might gain in
the tempting offer would be offset by those you`d anger with the
missing final piece.