The Best Thing in Marketing is FREE

The Best Thing in Marketing is FREE

Especially in this age of digital marketing, some marketers are somewhat reluctant to use the word “Free” in their marketing. Often flagged by spam filters, they are wary of the potentially negative and “cheap” image they believe it might cast on their business. Or they simply consider it an outdated relic of old-fashioned marketing approaches.

This was certainly the case for a client for whom we regularly ceate and produce a large quantity of direct mail to help them find new customers. We write and design their direct mail and they asked us to avoid using the word Free, preferring other phrases such as “complimentary” and “no-cost”.

Then recently, they asked us to be more liberal with the use of this powerful word in their creative. Why? Because they had done some customer research and discovered that Free had immense appeal and power with their target audience.

Using the word Free is one of those uncompromising “rules” of direct mail. We always counsel our clients to try to find a way to use the word, without being misleading. It has been proven by many direct mailers in test after test, over the last hundred years or so, to be able to produce more response than pretty much any other adjective.

So why is that the case? What makes the word “Free” the apex adjective of direct response?

The concept of getting something for free is irresistible to many people. Whether it’s a free sample at the grocery store or a free ebook download, the word “Free” captures our attention and sparks our interest. This is why it’s no surprise that using the word “Free” in marketing campaigns has proven to be incredibly effective.

There are many reasons why “Free” is the most powerful word in marketing. Here are just a few:

It Captures Attention
The word “free” is hard to ignore. When we see it, our brains automatically perk up and take notice. This is why “Free” is often used in headlines, subject lines, and other attention-grabbing marketing materials.

It Creates a Sense of Value
When something is Free, it feels like we’re getting more than what we’re paying for. Even if the actual value of the Free item is low, the fact that we’re getting something for nothing makes us feel like we’re getting a good deal.

It Lowers the Barrier to Entry
People are often hesitant to try something new, especially if it requires them to spend money. But when something is Free, there’s no risk involved. This makes it easier for people to try something they might not have otherwise.

It Can Lead to Reciprocity
When someone gives us something for Free, we often feel obligated to reciprocate in some way. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer engagement.

Of course, it’s important to note that not all “Free” offers are created equal. If the Free item isn’t relevant or valuable to the target audience, it won’t have the same impact. Additionally, overusing the word “Free” can make it lose its power and impact.

The word “Free” is undoubtedly the most powerful word in marketing. When used strategically, it can capture attention, create a sense of value, lower barriers to entry, and even lead to reciprocity. So, the next time you’re crafting a marketing campaign, consider how you can use the power of “Free” to your advantage.