Today’s water cooler ammo brought to my attention a story about people who pursued a free tattoo . The article revealed that 68% of participants would not have gone through with it if they have been asked to pay. The way I see it, ‘free’ falls into three categories: stuff I would do, but I’m too cheap – free from financial obligation; stuff I’d never think or want to do, but will because it’s available and doesn’t cost me anything – opportunistic freedom; and scams – a.k.a. things that aren’t really free.
This reminded me of a well known marketing tactic: “free gift with purchase” clearly falls into the middle category, but where do software promotions call home? We often offer “this for the price of that” or “an add-on for no extra charge,” but are we assuming these items are otherwise coveted and their acquirers simply lack budget or are we inadvertently wooing those who will try anything once?
In my experience, the warning signs appear early on. For instance, I attended a jewelry party where you could get an additional 10 bucks off if you, and I quote, “schedule a time to hear about the opportunity to own your own business.” I like the idea of a free $10, especially after someone leads with a confession about having a 50% margin (but that’s another sapient). I walk up to the lady and say “I should tell you, I’m really good at saying no, but I’d like to hear what I need to do to qualify for the coupon.” Now, I don’t know about you, but if I heard that, I’d ask one, maybe two, questions and probably just concede the discount for the sake of time. But OH NO! This woman went into full on hard sell mode. After twenty minutes of my trademark systematic tear down of her arguments: you’re looking at both my female friends… no, I don’t have an office of women to sell to… nor do my males friends have wives who need cheap jewelry… and I don’t attend a sewing circle either thank-you-very-much! the fun had passed and I bowed out of the conversation by reminding her that I wasn’t really interested.
So this week, don’t mistake interest in a promotion for genuine interest in your solution. Tattoos might last forever, but the return on investment for both vendor and customer compounds year over year, long after the promotion concludes; it’s your responsibility to sell the application’s value, not hawk just an alleged bargain.