Why You Should Never Use The Term “Free”

For many it is thought of as one of the most, if not the most, powerful word ever used within marketing history. For others it has been deemed the most overused and unbelievable word in the same breath, nothing more than a way to seduce and often cheat the consumer.

But which one is correct? What does the word “free” actually do to the perception of your business?

Yes, the word “free” may cause a consumer to feel a connection to you and your business, as it creates a view that there is no risk for them in engaging with you and that it doesn’t matter about the quality of the product or service as, even if it is substandard, they haven’t spent any of their money on it.

But it may also offer the opposite – the thought process that there is a catch, something hidden, a risk that may go against them. Yes, it is free now – but what about the future, is there something deep down in the small print?

Worse still, they may equate “free” with “of little or no value.” This in itself is a bigger negative than thinking they may be being conned. The product or service has been devalued.

Consumers are more savvy now than ever before – seeing a free gift with a purchase is understood to actually be that the cost of the “free” gift is in some way being recovered in the cost of the main purchase. Nothing is ever really thought of as “free” – the perception is that the consumer is paying elsewhere or that there is a catch.

In summary, whilst “free” sounds like an easy way to excite a prospect of your product or service, it can drive negative views that don’t match the original objectives. It also restricts your ability to offer other “paid-for” solutions in a value-driven manner, as there is not the base product or service to compare prices with.

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