In March of 2007 I presented a proposal for my services to a local small business. Included in that proposal was a coupon for one month’s free service. Not a free consultation, not a scaled down version of my offering, but one month free of the full meal deal. Crazy, you say? More than a year and a half later, that business is still my client. So far the return on my investment is about 18-1.
There’s nothing wrong with giving away free samples of what you do, no matter what you do. In fact, if you don’t, you are asking customers to take all the risk. Never mind your money back guarantee, that’s too much of a hassle.
What is that sticky stuff?
When a new customer comes knocking at your door, you may notice that they are covered in FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt. Overcoming FUD is the key to new customer acquisition. So businesses trot out customer testimonials and product guarantees in hopes of de-FUDing their customers. Mostly with unfavorable results (what’s your closing ratio?).
Your goal is to make customers so confident in your stuff that they pull out their check card without fear and without hesitation. This is especially important for service businesses because the customer doesn’t actually buy something they can hold in their hands. And yet, businesses find it difficult to give prospective customers free samples.
The thing is, you are removing a barrier to purchase. Customers get to honestly evaluate your stuff without being distracted by fear. That means they get to use your service without worrying that they paid too much or that they bought the wrong thing. At the end of the free trial, they decide, “Can I really live without this now?” If the answer is “no,” you have yourself a new, and grateful customer.
Accept responsibility for the purchase and cut customer risk to zero. The question is: how can you let customers try it before they buy it?