Finding Customers With The Right Marketing Strategies

finding customersAre free and hope your marketing strategies for finding customers?

They go like this:

You give away your time or a free trial of your product.

Then you hope the customer will buy.

You many continue doing this and then after a while realise you have wasted a number of precious hours.

These are not marketing strategies of course.

The concept of providing something for free can be used effectively as a marketing tactic.

This is as long as you understand the purpose and the role it plays supporting your marketing strategy.

Especially when you in the process of finding more customers for your business.

Instead of free and yes this can be just a mind game I call them samples.

The reason is you are giving a sample of what you are offering.  Enough to help customers along the buying decision path.

Larger companies use the sample idea really well, have done for decades and it is used in conjunction with other tactics not just on its own.

They don’t and can’t use hope when marketing their brands as they want to make a profit. If you use samples as a support for your marketing strategy it means you have your product or service as a key focus.

Return on Investment

Companies that sell products work out the cost of the samples to see if they are getting a return. They also track the results so guesswork doesn’t happen.

This way they can see if it is worth repeating, tweaking the sample offer or scraping it.

As the marketer of your brand do you track your results?

For example if you offer a 1 hour free consultation, do you work out if this is cost effective or do you regard it a just a cost, when you are finding customers.

If you can’t see a return on your investment then consider other ways to support the product or service strategy focus. For example you may consider a basic product or service as an entry level for new customers which has a lower price.

Buying Behaviour

With products you know how much you need to give away to get your customers to buy. You understand which products are more likely to lead to a sale if sampled.

Unless you are new to business, you probably have an idea of what your customers buying behaviours are.  As well as you would know what samples of your service, such as a ½ hour phone call move them along the buying chain.

Could these samples be packaged up differently and offered on a more consistent basis or even without your presence?

One key is this is an opportunity to be creative and not follow or copy what your competitors do. The reason for this is it is a chance for your to showcase your difference and stand out from your competitors.

The Offer

Often product companies give away samples and have the offer next to it.

You see this with food all the time, bite size pieces to taste and a short sharp discount on the full size product.

Is there an opportunity for you to have an offer all ready to go, after they have sampled your service?

By having the offer ready it can simplify the process for your customers and for your business.

Now, it should be noted like all things in marketing that this approach may not suit your business or service. However it may be worth at least thinking about because the free and hope approach is tough on the bank balance.

As always, love to hear your thoughts on this.

 Do you want to get new customers? If you do, I can help. To see how Click Here.

This article was published before and has been updated.

30 Responses to Finding Customers With The Right Marketing Strategies

  1. This phrase you use resonate with me: “consider a basic product or service as an entry level for new customers which has a lower price”. Personally think this is a good way forward when you are a start-up. You just have to make sure it’s a one off. Have done so with one customer. Will be interesting to see what the outcome will be:-)

  2. Susan — I also loved your opening line! It really depends on what you’re selling. Product samplings work well — Costco and other big box stores have mastered the art of the free giveaway. I was there last week, sampled brownies, and had to buy a box. It’s a bit more problematic for services. Potential clients don’t often place a value on a free consultation. They don’t see it in terms of the cost to you — one less billable hour. I do think it’s a strategy that can work but, as you point out, can you measure your returns over time?

    • I have done the same thing at my supermarket Jeannette. I am inclined to agree with you re value on a free consultation, especially if there is nothing to tie it in with the full price service.

  3. I love the sample idea. It is something that can be very affective when used appropriately. Tracking the results and it’s affectiveness is so important. It can guide you in your next steps. 🙂

  4. I always grab every opportunity that comes over to me especially if it is FREE, oh! I immediately grab it! That is actually the background of myself when there is FREE, customers are usually attract if there is particular offers that is for FREE. Thanks for the great marketing strategies!

    Keep on sharing!

  5. Hi, Susan. Giving away something for free and hoping that it gets you the customers you want is definitely a funny way to go when it comes to a marketing strategy. 😀 Although I do give away free ebooks on my site at time, I believe giving away added value to my existing customers (like additional concepts) is better because it makes them come back for more of my services. While hope is a nice word, it should not be something business people should bank so much as a marketing tactic. It is better to work for what you want than just to hope for it. 😉

    • Hi Wes,

      Totally agree about giving away some things for free to your current customers. It is a simple way to say thank you.

  6. Hi Tia,he

    Great point and I think many times the latter. If you can share why have you changed from free to introductory offer?

    No, free advice via a blog etc is not what I consider a sample unless it has a purpose otherwise I do think it is part of the Hope situation. If you look at Copyblogger, Brian Clark and his team do this well. There is free information and advice or help etc which leads to credibility and this leads to customers wanting to buy his products in my opinion.

  7. Hi Susan,

    … do you work out if this is cost effective or do you regard it a just a cost …

    That is a really notable distinction. As is your points about sample vs. free.

    It seems in the offline world, I’m more attuned to sample versus free. Now that you point it out, I do realize I’m more likely to request a “sample report” than I am to sign up just to get a “free” report.

    Yes, it is all in the language and in the perceived value!

    • Hi Vernessa,

      Thanks for your comments. As I asked John, do you have any free or samples that works well for your business that you could share with us?

      • Hi Susan,

        Thanks for asking me to share a bit more. A couple of things come to mind in both the “free” and “sample” categories.

        FREE: I work as an internet coach with both offline and online small business owners. After numerous requests for “what’s the best product/service for …” I put together a free ebook with anecdotes and recommendations. Available for immediate download (without even the barrier of opt-in to get it), both clients and prospective clients have a ready resource. I call this guide my Top Secret Personal Swipe File.

        A wonderful by-product of this 60-page PDF was it lent credibility about my breadth of knowledge, and people could see how I used just about everything I recommended to them. (I need to do a 2011 version but it is still downloaded consistently.)

        SAMPLE: In addition to coaching and planning, I’m known to get my hands dirty on the technical side of things. A very recent example of giving away a sample of my technical services can be found in the post I wrote just yesterday. (See my CommentLuv signature below.)

        It was fun, it stretched me a little, and because it was successfully completed, the word-of-mouth benefits are priceless! 🙂

        • Thanks so much for sharing this Vernessa and I will check it out as I am sure will others.

  8. There are definite times when you have to be willing to give some quality stuff away. Especially if you are new to the business, or not extremely well known. Keyuri above gives a great example, with her first session always complimentary. But that session is likely filled with a number of great reasons to become a client. It gives Keyuri an opportunity to prove the value of her service to a new prospective customer. But as you say, this works best when it is a planned part of your marketing, not something you just throw out there for consumption.

    Give away things of great value, to prove that you can deliver what you say. Then let them purchase even more value when they trust you. All the 60-day no questions asked money back guarantees in the world will not make me trust you, or follow your tweets, or anything else. I think that only works for one-off products. If you need to have an ongoing relationship with your prospects, you need to give away some of your knowledge. But, again, give away must be a well planned part of your marketing strategy.

    • Hi John,

      Keyuri does provide a great example. What I also like about her approach is she is giving them an opportunity to experience a session which is very different to just providing information.

      That is an interesting point about the money back guarantee and I can see what you mean. I think like most things in business it does depend on what you are sell, your customers and the market. Do you provide a sample or something free to your potential customers that works well for you?

      Thanks for joining in the discussion.

  9. I love samples! They have turned me on to some of my favorite products and foods. It’s a win for me and the company.

    Every single one of my clients has first done a complimentary session. They get a taste of what coaching can do for them and actually get to “feel” the power. It also benefits me because I get to assess how coachable they are. If a prospect opts not to be a client I don’t regret the hour spent. I “hope” that they will have gained something helpful as they move forward in their goals. Who knows… a memory from our session or something helpful that they apply in their lives could be the tipping point for them to come back at some point or refer someone else.

    You are right that we can’t use “hope” alone as a marketing stragey, but it can help.

    Great post Susan.

    • Hi Keyuri,

      I like samples too. It sounds like you use the sample idea very well and it gives them a real taste of working with you and you with them.

      Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Great post. I think there are two types of customers – those that want it free because they want a bargain, have very limited budgets, can’t afford to pay for it – and frankly if you give it to them for free they will expect that again and you have damaged their perception of your brand (You have told them what your product/service is worth….ZERO). Then there are the client who wants it free because they don’t trust that you are right for them, or that they will get value. For that market I think it is great to have a 100% money back guarantee, no questions asked, etc.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t do free at the start of the relationship but put that time/resource/effort in providing freebies during the relationship to reward them for being our customers – and to keep them rusted on?

    • Hi Bambi,

      I agree with you and often the second lot do not have a frame of reference to compare services. The guarantee is a good one as it does lessen the purchase risk for them to take that step of working with you.

      Yes that would be good and actually would make the relationship a lot better from both sides of the frence.

  11. I too had a chuckle when I read the title and saw the picture. I sell my time and offer a free consultation. I use to give 45 minutes. Now I do 30 or 15 if i can. I am in the process of diversifying my products by offering trainings to go. Free can be an expensive marketing strategy if you don’t know what you are doing. But sometimes you have to fail and test what does and does not work in order to succeed.

    • Hi Angie,

      Good point and test and fail and we all have been there. The key is knowing why it failed. Your training products sound like a good idea and best of luck with it.

  12. Hi Susan

    Its interesting that you raise this point now. I have been struggling with handing out free complimentary passes to our latest training videos. We finally did a comprise and posted free snippets rather than the full course but I am still debating what else can I do to improve my trial rate. Any suggestions or ideas.



    • Hi Jawwad,

      Have you found out from those customers you got the free snippets and converted to the full what it was that motivated them to buy? Without knowing your target market or product I would find out from those customers and just package up those elements. One suggestion is to put a time limit on the trial with a good deal for the full course.

  13. Hi Susan

    I did laugh at your opening lines! But you make some salient point here. Free and hope indeed lol

    I’m still learning heaps about marketing so found some great tips in here. Thanks for sharing with us Susan. appreciated.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Hi Patricia,

      Would you believe I actual read an article where someone called actually called Free a strategy. It is a trap unfortunately especially for those starting up. Glad you found these tips helpful. If you ever have any questions about marketing always feel free to email me.