To offer a product for free or not to offer a product for free. With all of the articles on the web, people experimenting with free offers, and skeptics, it seems as if this debate could continue until the end of time. I heard both sides of the argument ever since I created my first product, and I continue hearing both sides of the argument to this day.
The argument against temporarily offering paid books and training courses free of charge is that you don’t make money for any of those sales. 2,000 people could get your free book or training course that you normally charge for, but you won’t make as much money compared to if one person bought the paid book or training course.
The supporting argument for temporarily offering paid books and training courses free of charge is that you generate social proof and make your product look more enticing when the free offer expires. Many Udemy instructors offer their courses for free in the beginning to get thousands of students because having thousands of students looks better than only having five students, even if they initially don’t make as much money that way. Some of the people who get your book or training course free of charge may decide to leave reviews that positively impact the way your product looks in the marketplace.
I heard both sides of the argument for so long that I didn’t fully know which side to believe. There are articles on the web from both sides of the argument that present valid case studies and earning reports. Putting my first product on the web meant putting a price tag on it, but as I created more products, I needed to discover whether I would make some of them temporarily free or not even think about doing so. The only way to know whether something works or not is by giving it a try, so for some of my products, I decided to temporarily remove the price tag for one of my products.
Removing the price tag would remove the uncertainty in a matter of days, but making one of my products temporarily free for the first time scared me. People told me not to do it, but the feeling of uncertainty was too overwhelming. I just had to give it a try so I could finally decide once and for all of it even works.
What initially started as a “Let’s try it just for the sake of trying it” plan has now become essential. Offering my product for free allowed it to get more customers than ever before. Making the product free meant no profit, but I didn’t lose anything either. Offering an online product free of charge eliminates the need of shipping and production costs.
When you temporarily offer a product free of charge, you aren’t looking to make money from this promotion. That sounds obvious, but many people forget that for the particular promotion, revenue isn’t the primary objective. The primary objective in your promotional efforts for a temporarily free product is to generate social proof. You want people to leave reviews for your product so that when the price tags return and your product is no longer free, it will look better in the marketplace. The Udemy course with 2,000 students and over 10 reviews looks better than the Udemy course with 10 students and no reviews. Social proof was always important, but now it is more important than ever before.
The idea of getting social proof by temporarily making a product free of charge makes free promotions seem like investments. If you invest money in the stock market, you hope to make a profit in return. Temporarily offering a product for free works in a slightly different manner. For online products, you don’t invest money to make a product free of charge because the act of providing someone with the product does not cost you a penny. You neither lose nor gain a profit by temporarily making a product free of charge.
What you invest in this case is your time. It takes time to promote a product. Some people see finishing a product as completing the entire battle, but that is only half of the battle. Marketing a product to get numerous sales in the marketplace is just as challenging as actually creating the product. Just because you offer a sweet deal and temporarily make one of your products free does not mean people will flock over to your free product. People have to know about the free product first. Once people know about your offer and get your free product, a relationship starts to build.
The relationship you build between you and the customer is essential towards getting good reviews. At the end of my Udemy lectures, I make it a point to encourage interaction. I encourage interaction so people’s questions can get answered and so I can know my audience better. Knowing my audience better allows me to build stronger relationships which lead to reviews, and I get a better idea of what type of products my targeted audiences wants. Knowing what products your targeted audience wants and then creating those products is a great way to generate more sales.
When I temporarily offered my product free of charge, I didn’t make any money for that product for the entire free promotion. For all of my products, once the free promotion ended, I always got a significant increase in sales. Now, when one of my products does not generate as many sales as it did in the past, I sometimes make the product free to get more buzz which helps the product succeed as a whole.
You must avoid making your products free too often because people will then avoid buying your products and simply wait for the free promotions. The phrase “too often” depends on the niche you are in and how many free promotions your competitors do.
If you are eager to temporarily offer your product free of charge, here are some outlets that will help you spread the word about your free product:
- Facebook Groups specialized for free product promotion (many of these exist; join multiple groups)
- Your email list
- Your social networks (constantly tweet, post, and pin about your temporarily free product)
Utilizing these three outlets allowed me to successfully promote my product while it was free. All of the promotion led to thousands of new customers and dozens of reviews in less than a month. What are your thoughts about free product promotions? Did you promote one of your paid products and temporarily make it free? What are your tips for promoting a temporarily free product? Please share your thoughts and advice below.