Digital marketing

Why freebies boost sales

- December 20, 2011 2 MIN READ

When you give away free things to your prospects it activates a social phenomenon known as the norm of reciprocation. Here’s how it can boost sales.

Understanding the norm of reciprocation

The norm of reciprocation dictates that if you give free things to customers or prospects they may feel compelled to do business with you in the future.

That’s not to say that you should only give to receive, but if you’re going to give anyway, then receiving is a wonderful by-product!

Below are some ideas you might like to try for yourself.

Give shoppers a little something to enjoy while they browse

Whenever I walk into a particular gift store, the owner welcomes me warmly and offers me a foil-wrapped chocolate. She does this every single time, to every single person, no matter how busy she is. Her warmth is genuine and her chocolates are mouth-watering. When bought in bulk, the chocolates probably cost her a few cents each, but the joy (and conversation) they generate is priceless.

I find it really hard to walk out of that gift store without buying something. Why? The wonderful smile. Those delicious chocolates. The norm of reciprocation.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

Let customers sample your wares

Have you ever walked into an ice cream shop, tried a few different flavours on those mini paddle-pop sticks, and then walked out cone-less?

I haven’t. Not many people do. The free taste testing creates a kind of dairy-based psychological contract that compels us to make a purchase.

Share your expertise with a blog or free articles

When your website includes articles or a blog, you’re not just creating web content to help increase traffic, you’re offering free and useful information on topics that make your prospects’ lives easier, which creates an enormous amount of goodwill; and that goodwill can boost sales. For example, if you’re a photographer who writes articles about shooting perfect portraits, who will people turn to if they need a professional photographer? Probably you!

Offer free trials

Although free trials are not something that you can keep forever, they are a great way to encourage potential customers to try your product or service. If the product or service meets their needs, then people will probably buy it once the free trial is over.

The norm of reciprocation can be used in any facet of your business, and while it won’t encourage every single person to do business with you, it might just encourage the ones who count. If you give freely, you may just receive warmly.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"