Free Marketing Ideas Part 12 – Offer Free Trials

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Welcome to the latest edition of my new weekly blog series, “Free Marketing Ideas”. Each week I will identify and explain a simple marketing idea that you can employ at low or no cost. Last week’s topic was Keywords and Copy.

This Week’s Topic = Offer Free Trials

When selling a product or service, the most important thing you must do is alleviate people of their fears. Consumers are afraid of spending money, of getting ripped off or tricked, of not getting their needs met. And marketing is all about getting over those fears.

Few things can work better to alleviate the fears of your consumers than a free trial. Now depending on what you offer, a free trial may cost you a little bit of money, but the payoff is worth it.

When you can offer the ability for your customers to try you out for free, they don’t have to worry about getting ripped off. They can actual use your product, see how it meets their needs, and then make a more informed decision.

Of course the key is that you need a product that will actually work for people the way they need it to. A free trial won’t work if people use it and realize it is worthless.

When you launch your free trial, you can make the announcement on your social media pages you have set up. You can reach out to the people on your press list. And you can promote it heavily to your email database that you’ve set up.

And the secret to any successful free trial offer is the sale at the end of the free trial period. Maybe you have a free offering with limited features and you want people to upgrade to the paid version, like a Pandora or Spotify. Maybe you offer the full product for free for a limited time and then start charging, like a Netflix. Or maybe you offer a limited quantity of items of items with an opportunity to buy more, like the free samples in the supermarket.

Whatever your plan is, you need to encourage the sale. Continue to market to your free trial customers in order to make sure their experience is strong, and make it easy for them to take the next step and become a paying customer. You’ve already gotten their attention, now all that’s left is to close the deal.

Share your thoughts on this idea, and other free marketing ideas in the comments section below and keep the conversation going!

Steal This #7 – Movie Trailers


Welcome to the latest edition of my new weekly blog series, Steal This. Each week I’ll highlight a marketing activity that a company is using and suggest ways that you can model it and make it work for you. Last week’s topic was – Quiznos Lunchtime Email.

Today’s topic is: Movie Trailers

Movie trailers are a unique form of marketing for one specific industry. It’s essentially a sneak preview, where potential customers get to see small pieces of a movie and decide whether or not they think they’d like to see it.

They showcase the characters, important scenes, and key plot lines, without giving it away. It’s a “wet your whistle” type of advertising that is meant to leave you wanting more.

So how can you steal it?

You may not be in the movie business, but you have something that you want people to want. So make your own movie trailer for your product or service.

Figure out how to let people get a sneak preview of your offering. For some companies, this may mean free samples. For others, it might mean a limited access to certain goods or services that expires after a certain amount of time. It could even just be a video showcasing real customers using the product and talking about it.

Anything that let’s potential customers “experience” your offering before they buy it, to get their attention and boost their interest in what you’re selling.

As always, tell me what you think of this week’s idea and suggest other marketing programs to “Steal” in the comments below.


Create Your Showroom

When you think of a showroom, what do you think of?

For me, it’s the showroom at a car dealership. It’s the ultimate selling environment, designed so that potential customers can see, sample, and feel what it would be like to make a purchase. It’s often high pressure, an experience in and of itself, one that can be a bit daunting for first time buyers and more experienced customers alike.

What brought the potential customers there?

Perhaps it was a piece of advertising, TV or otherwise. Maybe it was a recommendation from a friend. Maybe they simply pass by the dealership often and decided to stop. Or maybe they are a brand-loyal buyer returning with a new need. Whatever it was, they come for a reason. To buy.

It’s a lot like your website. And it’s time you start treating your website more like a showroom so that you can increase conversion on all of your marketing efforts.

The 3 elements of a showroom that I think are the most important are: Show Off, Sample, and Sell.


    The car showroom is a controlled environment, often pristine and filled with shiny new vehicles. It puts the best products on display for all to see, making them desirable but not out of reach. Use your website to show your customers what they want. Make products visible, don’t skimp on photo quality or product information. Call attention to the best of the best, and make it easy for visitors to find everything they’re looking for.

    2. SAMPLE

      In a car showroom, a consumer can touch, feel, sit in, and even drive a car before they decide to buy. It’s the ultimate free trial experience. Think about what you can let visitors see and try on your website that might help answer their questions. Can you provide a 360 degree view of a product? Can you let them demo a service? The more a consumer thinks they know exactly what they will get when they buy, the easier the decision to buy will be.

      3. SELL

        A car showroom without the salespeople would not function. The same way that your expectation that a web visitor to find out everything they need to know on the website and go on to purchase with no push from you is a fantasy. Once they are there, you’ve got their attention. Sell to them. Simple calls to action, easy to find FAQs or contact information, someone to answer their calls, emails, or live chats immediately. These are all ways to ensure that you don’t lose people who have further questions.

        Free Sample Marketing

        I’ve noticed a form of marketing that is growing in popularity recently, and that is the free sample. Many of us have been in food stores where they offer free samples of products to shoppers in the hopes that you will buy those products after you try them.

        The free sample is an age old way of getting your product into the hands of the customer at no cost to them. If they like it, they’re more likely to buy it. You are eliminating the risk that they spend their money on something that does not work or they do not like. It’s a simple, and very effective, concept.

        Fast forward to today’s world and many companies are experimenting with new ways of applying this old concept. Facebook and Google are two that have tried this type of marketing on me recently.

        Both companies are reaching out to small businesses and marketers in order to get them to sign up for their ad delivery platforms. They offer $25, $50, or $100 in free advertising for first timers in hopes that the advertising works for you and you will continue to spend long past the “free” money runs out. Simple.

        So how can your company pull that off? How do you let someone try a product, prove its value to themselves, and then pay?

        You could break it down into parts, and offer the first for free to anyone who wants to try it. You could set up a free trial period and only start billing them after that time has expired, giving them ample opportunity to opt out along the way.

        If you have a product or service that you know works, you need to get it into consumers’ hands faster. Giving it away free is the best way that I know how to do that.