Everything must be paid for by someone, somehow.
If nothing else there is always a cost of time, intelligence, privacy, or quality.
There is no doubt that FREE is a powerful word. The word FREE can generate a lot of traffic. The word FREE can get customers off of the fence. The word FREE can even get potential customers to take action purely to get something free that they have absolutely no interest in.
The word FREE has destructive force, because it can create expectation of more free and more free after that, literally downgrading customers to mooches, and creating barriers to you ever (or ever again) selling value and being properly paid for it.
FREE trains customers to not only expect things to be free, but to demand it. To make matters worse, potential customers do not value free.
Giving away something that was once priced at a premium will devalue it and all your other offers. It will erode trust. It will train customers to expect that which is expensive today will be free tomorrow.
Done right it could even lead to more sales of the original product. Giving away a premium offering for free degrades its perceived value. To make matters worse, the more recently it had a premium price, the more likely giving it away for free will compromise the price integrity of the other offerings by the same business.
FREE is a powerful but dangerous weapon that can backfire badly.
There are ways to use it profitably, and times and places where you must use it, but thoughtful concern for the consequences is always required.
FREE used thoughtfully, carefully, and sparingly, or with a standard new customer offer, or in ways that do not degrade product previously sold at full price without a very good reason palatable to all, can be a powerful business-builder.
If you start off FREE and then try to move to paid, at worst you will have an angry list that revolts; at best you will have poor results.
If you have a premium offering then you give it away, you will devalue it and everything else you offer.
There is a time and place for using FREE. You just have to be very careful with it.
That poses the question, how do you use free without destroying your business? The answer to that question tends to be unique to each type of business. If you have something addictive or habit forming you could give away samples. There's also a reciprocity component.
This is something every business can do for FREE, that does little damage.
If you have a prestige offering, do not give it away for FREE. There is nothing prestigious about FREE.
There is no faster way to dilute your ability to charge a high price than by giving it away.
Protect prestige. If you find you need extra "juice" to sell that product, add value to it with stronger or more dramatic warranties, bonuses, and premiums, a special event for all who buy it during the promotional
period, financing. But don't sacrifice its price outright.
If and When You Offer FREE, Get Quid Pro Quo.
FREE is not without cost. Just because there is not a monetary fee does not mean the customers are not paying something.
If you fail to help your potential customers see the "hidden price" of FREE, or cheap, you will always be in a disadvantageous competitive position. There will almost certainly be others willing to sell or work for far less, or even for FREE.
It is a myth that any sale is better than no sale. I know you think you want the broadest market possible. As long as you have that mindset, it will hold you back.
You are not for everyone. It doesn't matter how many prefer free and won't pay, or even how big the majority want free and won't pay. It only matters there are enough who won't want free and will pay to support you as you want to be supported.
The number of non-buyers and won't-buyers doesn't matter.
Potential customers have different needs and desires. They all value different things. You cannot attract or serve them all. The vast majority of potential customers will always have zero interest in whatever it is you sell. Your products may be the center of the universe to you, but it is irrelevant to most potential customers.
Even if you were offering everything FREE, the majority would be disinterested.
Determine who really wants what you offer and is willing to pay for it.
Who within the population of potential customers is the most likely to buy what you offer? Those are your potential customers. Align with them. Give them the things they can't get with the free option. Those things do exist. You have to find them and let it be known that you provide them. Once you do that you can attract plenty of customers who will happily pay a premium for the privilege of doing business with you.
The law of supply and demand still works to your advantage, even though the overwhelming majority of potential customers are not good potential customers for you. Among those who are, who are repelled by the costs of free, and prefer paying for excellence, great demand for your products will develop.
The more demand you create the more scarce your offering will become in relation to demand and the higher your prices can go as a result.
The best price strategy of all is creating visibly excess demand.
Every FREE has concealed costs, and when those costs are revealed to a market, there are many customers unwilling to incur the costs of free and profoundly prefer paying for the goods or services they want.
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