How to protect your business from Freebie Seekers

If you use free offers as a way to generate genuine interest from prospective, paying clients, it’s essential that you take freebie seekers into account.

Freebie seekers are those people who grab every free offer in sight, with zero intention of ever becoming a paying client or customer. Their actions can discourage you and cause you to make incorrect assumptions when you check your marketing feedback. Here are a few thoughts on freebie seekers, to help you protect your business from the damage they can cause.

Freebie seekers and free offers

When used correctly, a free offer can be a useful marketing tool. However, it’s extremely important to understand that the second you attach the word free to an offer, you will immediately attract the attention of people, with no interest in ever buying anything from you. Whilst free offers are of some interest to prospective paying customers, they are totally irresistible to freebie seekers. They are mesmerised by the idea of getting anything for nothing.

I was prompted to write this post, after hearing a story that happened in a London supermarket recently. A member of the public had to receive medical attention, after eating half a plate of ‘free cheese samples’. This free cheese was in perfect condition and contained a sign explaining that it contained nuts. The customer had a nut allergy! The store manager waited with the customer until the paramedics arrived and could not believe what he told them. He explained that he felt compelled to risk eating the cheese, knowing it contained nuts, because it was there and it was free. It turned out that the customer wasn’t homeless or broke, he said he saw the FREE sign and couldn’t resist a free lunch, before returning to work!

Whilst an extreme case, it’s a mindset that I see all the time as a marketing professional. As a small business owner, you need to be aware of it so that you can factor freebie seekers into your marketing numbers, get a more realistic picture of your feedback and avoid them wasting your time.

Common freebie seeking behaviours

Freebie seekers are usually the first people to respond to a free offer. Sadly, your highly motivated prospective clients will also often reply quickly, which means the freebie seekers can make conversion rates look far lower than they really are. If you make a free offer in an untargeted way, for example, via messages on a social network – expect a high percentage of freebie seekers. You can reduce the percentage of freebie seekers, by making the free offer in a more targeted way, such as through your blog or newsletter.

On the subject of newsletters, freebie seekers are almost always the first to unsubscribe, when you specifically market your paid services. Just as they are quick to respond to a free offer, they are equally quick to run away, the moment they are asked to pay for anything.

Some small business owners make the mistake of not marketing their products or services often enough in their newsletters or blog posts, because they see people unsubscribe. People seriously interested in what you have to say and what you have to offer, will not unsubscribe just because you mention your products or services. Freebie seekers will. Factor this in, when looking at unsubscribe rates.

Stopping freebie seekers from wasting your time and money

The best way to defend yourself against the problems caused by freebie seekers, is to accept that they exist. The only way to avoid them, is to look at alternatives to ‘free’ offers. There are many ways to attract the attention of genuine prospective clients and customers, other than offering freebies. Any good marketing professional can show you what to do and help you avoid a costly mistake.

Remember -- if you'd like some help with your business or a project, you can Pick My Brain for the answers and ideas you need. This service is [literally] guaranteed to help you. You can find out more here.

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