This past month I got married and went on a honeymoon.
It was great and along the way I had time to relax.
And that allowed me to be observant of all kinds of things that were going on. There were two mornings when we stayed in a cabin in a small cove in the ocean. It was very peaceful and quiet; perfect for thinking.
Along the way I noticed that many of the travel businesses would cleverly use free things to make customers feel like they were getting more value for their purchases.
For example, on one of the day cruises that lasted the entire afternoon, free drinks were included. You could have coffee, hot chocolate, water and I think even fountain soda if you wanted.
Now, we paid over a $100 per ticket for the cruise, but it seemed like we were getting more for our money by having bottomless drinks. And it’s probably not a huge deal for the business to provide free drinks. How much can people really drink in a few hours?
On another jet boat tour we were offered cookies and a drink. The cookie was just a cookie, but it was a nice treat and again it seemed free and increased the perceived value of the trip.
Normally I’m against offering free things to get customers for your business. I think it can bring the wrong type of customer and can be a slippery slope for your pricing structure (see: JC Penney).
But I think these freebies or add-ons can make your business more valuable to your current customers and more appealing to new customers.
Here are a few ideas I have for some types of business. Hopefully they spark a few creative ideas for your organization.
1. Information Download
People are using information downloads for all types of promotions. You get a download when you signup for an email newsletter and things like that, but you can also add this one with purchases of products and services.
This tactic has been around for a long time. I’ve seen it in the golf world where you buy a new club and along with it you get a book, pamphlet or even a video that has a few tips on how to improve your swing.
You can do the same with your business. Find a way to provide information in a format like a .pdf and people will feel like they’re getting even more than they bargained for with their purchase.
2. Software Application
This one is really becoming popular with software and application providers and it’s no surprise when you think about the concept of this post and adding value to users.
I think of HubSpot and the application they have that offers a free analysis of a website or of a blog. They provide actionable steps for companies that want to improve their websites.
This attracts people to HubSpot before they even get interested in the real HubSpot software and product. It shows potential customers a little taste of what HubSpot can provide. People come away thinking, “Man, that was really valuable. I can only imagine what the paid software will provide.”
3. Coffee, Wi-Fi, etc.
Local businesses can offer all the items on this list, but these two things and others like them are great for local businesses. At the doctor’s office you often get free or complimentary coffee and more places are starting to offer Wi-Fi as well. It’s great for people that have to sit and wait for a service like you do at the doctor’s office.
Again, coffee isn’t that big of a deal for most businesses to offer, but to someone that’s waiting it’s a pretty big deal and they feel they get a little something extra for their visit.
4. Leather Coasters
I used to work for a shoe company. At one time they manufactured shoes in Chippewa Falls, WI. When I worked there this practice had been long gone, but on my desk (not sure where I got it) there was a leather coaster. It had the company’s name printed on it. I thought it was really nice. It’s not that often where you find a coaster that is made of leather.
I found out that the company made these coasters from scrap leather in the factory. They would throw it in the boxes when they would send out work boots and nice mens shoes.
I thought that was a great idea. Here is something the company would probably throw away, but instead they made it into something that would add value to the purchase for the customers.
There is a story that I’ll paraphrase about the Daisy BB Gun. The company made windmills or something and with spare materials they would give customers the BB gun. Well, after a while, the company realized that there was more value in the guns than in the windmills. So they started selling the guns. I’m not sure if they then gave away the windmills.
5. Social Media
I follow Hank Haney on Twitter and he’s one of the best people out there on social media. I’m interested in golf and interested in how to get better. Hank, one of the best golf instructors of all-time, often shares tips. He even takes photos of swings from random people on Twitter and provides a few tips for them.
To him, the tips are easy. He’s an expert in the field. He’s not giving away full lessons, but just a quick tip. It still takes time, but it’s unique and other golf instructors aren’t doing it.
It sets Haney apart. He provides the freebie, which too him is some effort, but not a ton. And it’s incredibly valuable to the people he helps and to followers like me.
We’ll end with blogging. I would have put it first on the list, but I didn’t want to come off as biased even though I am when it comes to blogging. Like social media before it, blogging is a great avenue to provide the most powerful freebie of all – information.
The key to blogging is to find the information that is most valuable to your target customer. Start by answering questions that are easy for you, but valuable to your customers. Then move into doing research when you don’t necessarily know the answer.
You earn trust. You earn respect and both grow your profile and your business.
I look at these concepts as being different than giving away your product to start. When you giveaway your product, you’re reducing its value as a way to appeal to customers. If you decrease the value of your own product then how can you expect your new customers to respect it at full price?
Instead of giving away your product or service, give an add-on. It’s not easy to find something that is valuable to your customers and relatively small in expense for you, but hopefully the ideas above can provide some inspiration.