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A ‘When and How’ Guide To Offering Your Product or Service For Free.

When starting out in your new business, you’re eager to make sales and get cash into the business but it’s quite tough when people aren’t familiar with your brand/product/service just yet. I remember this being my dilemma when I first started my professional coaching business and I struggled with giving away my expertise for free but in business, you’ll learn that many times you have to give in order to get.

Of course, you don’t want to be used and abused by people who think you’re desperate or cheap so how can you strike the balance? When is is okay to sell for ‘free’ and what are some of best ways to do this?

  1. As a marketing strategy. As tempting as it is to believe that when you set up a business, customers will just flood in – that’s rarely the case. No customers means no money and more costs. Get yourself in front of your target audience whether online or in-person and present your offering explaining the benefits for the potential customer, asking whether they’d like to give it a try for free. In return, you get a testimonial or feedback that can be used to boost the reputation of your new business. And if you offer quality, you can be sure that ‘Word of Mouth’ will work in your favour.

  2. As a skill swap. As a new business owner, there are many administrative costs you won’t be able to afford initially, especially if cash flow is discouraging. Get together with other business owners who offer a product/service that you need and establish whether your own product/service can be traded in exchange. If it helps, you both can have an agreement of how long the swap relationship will last for and what the conditions are.

  3. As an introductory offer. If adding a new product/service offering to your business, you can provide this to your current customer base at a very low price (or even free if you want) to get their thoughts on it. If they like it, it serves as an indicator that the wider market might just like it too, and also gives insight into how much they might be willing to pay for it.

  4. As a competition giveaway. If you’ve built a decent email list or online community, a giveaway of your product or service is a great way to engage and attract them. If it’s a service, perform with excellence and watch referrals come through. If it’s a product, ensure you give the very best version of it and get great reviews back.

  5. As part of a sponsorship deal. Many up-and-coming businesses sponsor events now by providing their product or services for free in exchange for the exposure. There are many cupcake and haircare brands I came to know about this way because of their freebies at events.

Word of caution: whenever you present your product/service for free, be sure to make clear what the original price for it is. This does something psychologically to potential buyers in terms of communicating the value of it. If you only mention that it’s for free, then there’s no urgency to enjoy it “while offer lasts”.

Stooping to conquer in business is a necessity but it must always be strategic and not seen as a tactic borne out of desperation.

Abuja, Nigeria

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