As one with pretensions of being a creative person, I hate admitting as much. But it’s true.
I also concede that it’s counterintuitive. But in the real, non-hypothetical world, a free offer tends to increase response many times over. Even for big-ticket items. The only time I have seen offers fail is when the primary product is something no one wants in the first place, or when the offer wasn’t really an offer at all. (Like the insurance company that trumpets, “Free meeting with an agent.” Gee. How generous of them.)
The higher your target ranks in income and education, the better free offers work.
A free offer will not compel anyone with no interest in your product in the first place. Unless, that is, the freebie happens to be worth considerably more than the product. If you offer a free, brand-new Mercedes with the purchase of a filet mignon, I dare say you will sell to a few vegans. Offer one with the purchase of a Bible, and your buyers will likely include atheists.
What the right offer does have the power to do is nudge the fence sitter. It gives the shopper a reason to take action now instead of putting it off. That’s one reason that expiration dates are important.
The industry can only guess as to why, but unrelated offers usually work best. That is why Blue Cross Blue Shield in California signed up more employers by offering a free Starbucks latte than a white paper on effective use of health plans.
Speaking of free offers: click here (and then scroll down a tad) to download a FREE copy of The RESPONSE Guide to Direct Mail.