Give Them Something for Free

Published on April 8, 2013 by Eric Weld

It’s one of the oldest business concepts there is, and it’s been around for as long as people have been doing business: give a prospective customer something for free, and you will have his or her attention.

Their attention, which you bought with whatever you gave them for free, may not last very long, depending on what the free item or service was. But it at least gives you a chance to move them to the next step—selling them your product or service.

This business practice, of giving something away for free in order to attract prospects’ attention, is nothing new. These days it’s called Inbound Marketing (or sometimes Pull marketing) because its objective is to direct traffic inward, from the prospect to the business.

Get them to come to you, as a business owner, and the potential for sales gets a huge boost. Numerous statistics illustrate the power of Inbound versus Outbound (or Push), in which sales people or other business representatives approach a prospect with a pitch for the product or service.

As I said, Inbound marketing is as old as business itself. This concept has helped build international newspaper and magazine industries, catapulted radio to the top of the media mountain, until television came along and surpassed radio. All these industries give away something for free (or close to it, if you include a subscription fee) in the form of content.

Newspapers, magazines, radio and television thrive on the Inbound Marketing model by providing news and entertainment, for free or very cheaply, so that readers, listeners and watchers will encounter their advertisements.

Now, with the Internet, and mobile networks, Inbound Marketing has become the default strategy for business, and it has leveled the playing field for small businesses, who before couldn’t afford to participate. The costs were prohibitive to create a publication, or a radio or TV station where you could host your inbound content.

Now, all it takes is a web site or a blog. Or an e-newsletter—some type of simple platform for providing Internet readers with helpful content. As you provide content and build an audience of users and fans of your content, a certain percentage may be interested in the products or services you sell.

You’ve given them something for free. Now have their attention. Sell.