If you were to ask most people, other marketing folks included, what they think the most
powerful word in marketing is, almost all of them would say the same thing:
While it’s true that word has been very powerful in the past, and can continue to be in
the right context, it’s becoming less and less so.
Why? For two reasons…
1 Desensitization – I can’t go more than 6 minutes in my day without getting pummeled with
marketing messages from more angles than a protractor can measure. And much of that messaging
uses that word. Free Quotes; free toasters; free tickets to the fair…
I remember when Starbucks first started getting popular – back when they were still using real
coffee mugs and the word «Frappuccino» wasn’t part of the popular vernacular. At the time the
nearest Starbucks was 5 miles away. Now I’ve got 5 stores within 2 minutes of my front door.
On the rare occasion that my travels take me to a town that DOESN’T have a Starbucks, I feel
like something’s missing.
The same is true with that four-letter word. The more you see it, the more you expect it, the
less it stands out.
There’s a saying in the internet marketing world that the «free line» has moved, meaning that
more people expect you to give them more stuff for a lower, if not zero, investment.
People have built up mental callouses to «FREE» so that it no longer has the impact it once had.
2 No Link to Value – Am I saying that you should no longer use it? Absolutely not. What I AM
saying is that you can’t expect your customers to jump out of their seats to buy just because
you said the «magic word.»
Today’s connotations with «FREE» range from «Something I may want, but what’s the catch?» to
«Keep that crap away from me!».
A prime example of the latter is found with your email Inbox’s «best friend»… the SPAM filter.
If I sent this out as and email and didn’t modify the spelling «free» to something like «FREE» or «FREE», the filters might interpret it as SPAM, in which case it would have never been delivered.
If you’re going to offer something for free, you need to link a message to it that conveys
something of HIGH VALUE to your customer. And you can’t assume that they know what that value
is – you’ve got to spell it out for them.
Saying «Get Two Months of My Newsletter for FREE» is quite different from «Please Accept My
Very Best Marketing Training Worth $633. 91 As My Gift To You!»
NOTE: Because I didn’t want to make this post too long, if you want to know what I WOULD say
in answer to the question, keep an eye out for my next post.
Just for fun… take a guess of what I’d say in the comments section below. One of the services
I offer is a 30 minute phone consultation with me to discuss in-depth online marketing
improvements for your business. I’d normally charge $197 for this. If you’re the FIRST one
that replies with the correct word, you’ll get it for, you guessed it, F-R-E-E