Give It Away Now: Why Giving Away FREE Stuff Makes Sense in the Long Term

So you might think that because the point of a business is to sell something, carried to its natural conclusion this means that you should charge your customers for every single precious minute of your time.
Car dealerships are a perfect example of this strategy. When you’re buying a new car, the dealer charges you for literally every addition (rustproofing charge? new car scent fee?! cup-holder tax?!!) That’s right. You spent $25,000 and they just couldn’t let you slide on that cup-holder tax.
Why do you think car dealers have the reputation of being the most difficult salesmen around? They won’t give anything away for free. But sometimes, giving away free things is exactly what you need to do to skyrocket past the competition, build customer trust, and rise as the undefeated contender in your (business) weight class.
The Draw of “FREE”
There’s no two ways about it. People love getting free stuff. Sometimes, all you need is the power of the word “FREE”. You know all those people that drive ridiculously far to use coupons, even though they end up spending more on gas than what they save? It doesn’t matter. They “gamed” the system; it makes them feel good. There’s nothing quite like the rush of getting something for FREE!
What to Give Away
You can give away samples of your product if your company is product based, or free services if you’re in the service industry. You can give anything away free, really. Check out some more ideas about what to give away.
As of late, giving away free information has become extremely popular with both types of companies. Whether you’re making a product or offering a service, handing out information in the form of a pamphlet or a blog helps your customer become more informed, figure out what he actually needs, and embrace your product’s lifestyle. In a way, that’s exactly what this blog is. (Whoa. Existential moment.)
Free information is also great because you have to do very limited advertising to draw customers to it—if you’re giving away something worthwhile, trust us, they will find you. (While you’re at it, see our post on Letting Them Come to You: The Power of Inbound Marketing.)
Reasons to Embrace “FREE”

  • Getting free stuff makes people more likely to pay you anyway. Since customers received something from you for free, they’re less worried about purchasing something else from you, because they think they’re still at a net gain. (Remember when Radiohead released their album In Rainbows for free? It turned out that people still paid standard album price on average even though they didn’t have to.)
  • Getting free stuff makes people want to share. People want their friends to get in on this “sweet deal, dude”, so they’re way more likely to share it through social media, which (you guessed it) gives you a completely free (and very effective) marketing team.
  • Getting free stuff makes people love your company. This inspires loyalty, which keeps them coming back. Yes, this might be same kind of coerced loyalty that exists on the playground with that kid who always has a giant bag of candy and bribes everybody. But it works. (Seriously, we survived grade school this way.)

So remember. It’s more important to keep your sights on the long term than to profit immediately by nickel-and-diming your customers to death. To get customers to pay and stay, you should give them something FREE.
And now for a shameless plug: As our new website rolls out within the next few weeks, Little Jack is proud to announce a series of guides (a lot like these posts, but longer, thematic, and suped-up) designed to help YOUR small business. The first will be Little Jack’s Guide to Successful Social Media Integration. We know, we’re also excited. Yes, we can’t wait either. Keep checking back here, on Facebook, and on Twitter for more updates!
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