Just because a word seems overused in advertising and promotions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it.
Customers love free offers, and the word “free” helps to get their attention so they will continue to read your ad or sales letter. Just don’t burn them by taking away a perceived benefit or not honoring your free offer or guarantee. With social media and services like Yelp, others will find out very fast.
Why is “free” so attractive?
One reason is people love to get a bargain — “something for nothing.” As a marketer, you are actually seeking something valuable in exchange — usually the customer’s email address or physical mailing address for future marketing communications, and the customer pays nothing out of pocket.
Another reason is the customer perceives there is no risk in accepting a free offer, because nothing has been paid out of pocket (possibly other than a small shipping and handling charge.)
(Some marketers have designed the shipping and handling charge to cover the cost of the fulfillment item plus delivery. Digital fulfillment eliminates this issue. Remember the customer’s physical mailing address is more valuable than an email address. People are much more likely to read something they receive in the mail than in their over-stuffed email box. If you’re like me, you search your email box for people or companies you know or know you want to read and delete the rest.)
“Free” can be used for the up-front investment in the product or service, for a bonus “gift with purchase”, or it can be incorporated in a guarantee. A guarantee example is the classic Domino’s offer – “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free!”
“Free” is often specified as a word to be screened by email ad blockers. Copywriter Joe Vitale uses an extra e, (freee) to avoid this. I don’t know if this works as an “end run” against ad blockers. It might get some readers’ attention as “different.” You could test it to see if you get better response with it.
Since businesses should have many marketing messages over time, “free” should be included in some of them.
If you would like my help crafting an effective marketing message, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial consultation.
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