Freebie seekers are those looking for free stuff. And who doesn’t like getting something for nothing? Everyone has tried at some time or another to enter those sites that offer free samples, free reports or e-books. Who hasn’t put their contact information into some form so they will be entered into a contest to win a free vacation?

Apparently, the term “FREE” sells. People who do marketing know this. They put this word in headers of their site, and in all their ads. This goes to show there are lots of people out there searching for free stuff. I mean, doesn’t it tickle your fancy when you see: “I have something for you that will increase your profits by 500%. And you don’t have to pay a dime! It’s free! Click here!”

But consider this… When freebie seekers come to your site, whether contractors, partners, students, etc. and are looking for something free—it’s rare they do anything profitable for you. Studies show, it’s a sad fact but true, you will find complaints increase. Why do they complain about something they got for free? Who knows, but it happens. Besides, they aren’t motivated to take action.

I feel that those who seek things (like tools, advice, reports, etc) that cost nothing are a different kind of people. They’re a different breed of cat than someone looking for something they need and who are happy to pay money for targeted information and great products or services. I can say that even though I, too, was a freebie seeker myself. :-) But no more! Here’s why…

There are countless Web sites where you can download a “Free Report” for only signing up by entering your e-mail address. You may think, “Oh, I’ll get some emails from them, but what the heck.” Then you find your inbox deluged with junk mail offering a wide variety of products, all of them claiming you requested them. What really happened is that they harvested your email address by offering this report or e-book or whatever, and then they turn around and sell your address to others. Or at least upsell you on their more expensive products or services.

Not only that – but think about it… what happens with that Free Report you downloaded last week or 2 years ago? It’s still sitting there on your computer, taking up hard drive space and unread, isn’t it? That’s the crux… because you didn’t have to pay something for the item, generally you won’t put the tips and strategies revealed in the report(s) to use. You won’t act upon them. It seems as though you don’t feel as if they are truly valuable.

I’m sure people take to heart those things they pay money for. If you pay $30 or $100 or even $1,000 for something, you will have a different mindset. You are much more likely to act upon the information you paid for. You will take the tips and strategies and put them to use.

This is not to say there aren’t some freebies that are completely genuine, filled with great information that you can implement in your business. But the real question is—will you put them to use? Or will you let them sit there with their interesting icons on your desktop?

—Marcus Hochstadt

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36 Responses to Freebie Seekers

  1. Gary Evans says:

    Interesting topic, Marcus! I’m sure lot’s of people will have lot’s of different views on this.

    Personally, I think providing very valuable free content can be great in helping to get yourself known as an expert in your field. If the content is so good that the prospect is so wow’d by it then I believe that some of them will feel inclined to buy your stuff since they believe it will also hold tremendous value and because you are the obvious choice to goto.

    The preconceived idea that if it’s more expensive then it must be better is also very powerful. I, myself get tons more out of a course if it costs several hundred dollars than if I get it for free or for very little investment. I guess that is our conditioning?

    Thanks for sparking the imagination, Marcus.

    Gary

  2. Hi Gary,

    I actually meant products, services and offers rather than regular content on Web sites and blogs.

    And yes, lots of people with different views. You see lots of people using the word “FREE” in their advertisements and offers, although it is proven to attract the wrong kind of people. Even for James Brausch’s Glyphius, the word “FREE” is a negative word (-31); “Complementary” is much better (+103).

    Personally, I also get more out of paid courses. And frankly, my own mindset changes and I put a lot more effort into it when I create a paid course. Maybe it’s because I know I will attract the right kind of people with it.

    James used the right words when I talked about this subject with him, “You don’t wanna have freebie seekers in your business. They do more harm than good.”

    ~Marcus

  3. I read once that the four most powerful words in marketing were:
    New,
    Free,
    Chocolate, and
    Sex.

    I always thought that the person who could think up a New way to include Chocolate in Sex, and then give that away for Free, would have all the business they could handle.

  4. That’s interesting indeed, Chris, as probably most Internet marketers will also tell you that a red headline on sales pages will trigger the highest conversion rate. Look at common sales letters and you’ll see what I mean.

    But did they actually TEST different headline colors? I doubt that. James did (so do I), and he figured out that a dark blue, black, or a dark green headline always wins big time against a red headline.

    Same with many other things that people “have heard” or “read” once (eventually from books that are decates old). We need to test in order to find out if it really DOES prove to be more profitable.

    In other words, when you read that the word “Free” would be a powerful or even a profitable word, I would simply go ahead and TEST that against another word, such as “Complementary”.

    However, I would not test it in terms of conversion rate (that *might* be higher towards the word ‘Free’), but against which kind of people you’ll attract and how fast your Internet business grows with these kind of people.

    I confess we might not get results that fast as we’ll also have to use “taking action” as a measurement.

    And it’s certainly not only about sales, it’s about how many people you can get to take action based upon the material you’re selling, and how many people you can help set themselves free.

    THAT is something that keeps me up at night.

    ~Marcus

  5. Samsara says:

    Accurate article Marcus. Paying for something reminds us that we exchanged something of value [money] for something of value [product]. I am *spending* my time here commenting because you *gave me* good information in this article.

    When I get something free I honestly pay no attention to it. I have already pre-judged it to be of no benefit for me so that impulse decision to *get something for free* was a waste and I end up deciding to not throw away my time [which is of value] on it. But, as you point out, the marketer still has my email address that he will sell to companies or use to spam me with, or attempt an upsell doesn’t he?

    Cost-Benefit analysis. Free is perceived as no benefit. On the whole.
    Good article. Thanks Marcus.

    Another reformed freebie seeker after way too much cost for benefit,
    Samsara

  6. I think you’re absolutely right that people value something much more when they pay for it. To me that’s a big reason you have to pay to adopt a pet: you’ll care for it better, because you have an investment in it.

    I wonder if people have tested charging very small amounts for a report ($5) instead of giving it away for free. That would probably result in fewer downloads, but theoretically more purchasers would come back to buy other services in the future.

  7. @ Samsara – Thanks for stepping by and taking the time to expand my blog with your valuable content, which I couldn’t have written any better.

    And I love your byline “Another reformed freebie seeker” since I am one myself. :-)

    @ Andrew – Charging $5 instead of nada is a very good idea. That way, you get rid of the freebie seekers. In fact, they will complain that it’s not freely available and therefore not take appropriate action towards their own personal success.

    Sad but true.

    ~Marcus

  8. I like this take on Free by direct marketing ‘legend’ Jim Straw of BusinessLyceum.com so hope it’s okay to quote Jim in full…

    “One of my all-time “big” response ads was:

    FREE BOOK — “Offshore Banking Is Not Evil.”

    Over 50,000 people requested that “freebie” from 1986 to 1988. — Every “Free” booklet I sent out cost me nearly $3 … plus the cost of the ads. Instead of the usual 15% to 20% conversion rate (paying customers) I usually got from “inquiry” ads, the rate was a low 2% to 3%. — That promotion ate my lunch.

    In 1988, I changed the ad to read:

    OFFSHORE BANKING is not evil. Free.

    Each inquirer received a one-page flyer … which cost me about 20¢ to send to them … offering the book for $10. — The response to the ad was much, much smaller but the $10 price tag on the book paid for my ads and my conversion rate went up to 30%, producing a significant profit on the very first mailing.”

    Lots of takeaway messages from Jim’s example but I’ll highlight one.

    Catch the attention of the ideal prospect FIRST, then ‘Free’ can be used to help tip this targeted group from a “No.” to an “Okay. What the heck, yes.”

  9. I admire Jim Straw, am subscribed to his newsletter.

    Am wondering how this works 20 years later, in 2008, and in comparison with other words than “Free”.

    ~Marcus

  10. Ben Barden says:

    Hey Marcus, I agree with you to a point. I have had freebies pushed on me by various people and I might download them, but probably won’t read them. However, if I go looking for something, that’s when I’ll read or use it. Depends what your needs are. :)

  11. That makes sense, Ben. Another saying goes like, “You don’t need to know everything; you just need to know where to find the information once you need it.”

    That makes me remember an ex-girlfriend of mine. She’s an NLP professional and used to occasionally hire her trainer for a coaching session. His rate (in 2001) was 160 EUR per hour ($250).

    He always insisted to offer his coaching session to her for free because of all the good things she did for him and his company. But my ex insisted to pay 160 EUR per hour because she knew she would take that session more seriously only when she pays the full fee.

    When looking back I know why…

    ~Marcus

  12. terlan says:

    I’d have to agree with you on this one marcus. Especially the complaints part.

    I run or maintain several websites offering completely free services and they generally have mostly passing traffic. Theres a few solid repeat visitors for every couple of thousand. But in general they arrive expect free stuff and the feedback is mostly positive.

    However in contrast another site of a client offers free products when you purchase a main product. This produces a wealth of problems, from customer complaints that the free products are wrong in some way or other, or if they return the main product they should be able to keep the “FREE” products. We tried various connotations of the word and eventually had to settle on complimentary and outline in the terms and conditions various limitations to the word complimentary.
    But when using PPC using free is very powerful, as long as its made blatantly clear that its buy this, get this free. That way peopel are clear that they are going to buy to get the freebie.

  13. Carnival of the Entrepreneur – July 7th, 2008…

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  14. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  15. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  16. PlugIM.com says:

    Freebie Seekers…

    How freebie seekers and freebie seeking can ruin your business. You can change that……

  17. Marcus, I’ve seen many Realtors employ the “Free Report” bait and obtain many leads however, the quality and cost of those leads may not be the best way to start a relationship. I am however, more than happy to provide complementary items of value to those who are clients or subscribers to our services. The complementary items provide an important element of our “touch” program.

  18. Email Marketing Tips – Edition 4…

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    Actually I know we are one day late, but lets pretend we were on time.

    I want to start and say a big
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  19. See? That’s exactly what I mean… One may get a flood of subscribers by using the word FREE but what about their quality? That can be quite another story…

    ~Marcus

  20. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  21. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  22. Cindy King says:

    Just a note that I have posted a link to this post in this weeks Saturday Blog Carnival.

  23. Internet Business Blog Carnival - Edition 21 | Internet Business Opportunities | oibo dot org says:

    […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  24. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  25. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  26. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  27. earn online says:

    You can talk another view on this though. You can capture those people then convince them they need a paid product more. Free sells and always does, but it works well when you’re using it as an incentive (aka bundling one thing with another).

  28. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  29. […] Hochstadt presents Freebie Seekers posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “Freebie seekers are everywhere. But did you know that […]

  30. I agree.

    I get a load of people to my images web site (looking for free images).

    It is impossible to monetize this traffic with CPA stuff.

    If a CPA offer requires my visitors to pay more than $0.00 then they are not interested.

    (CPC Adsense ads work well though!)

  31. “You can talk another view on this though. You can capture those people then convince them they need a paid product more. Free sells and always does, but it works well when you’re using it as an incentive (aka bundling one thing with another”

    Agreed, because not all free offers are inferior, its the manufacturers best way to publicize their product. If people likes the product they consume it or else they can skip it. Simple deal and no risk involved.

  32. NickD says:

    Interesting article, I recently started offering a free months trial of my services on my website, although after reading this I have to confess I am considering changing this to a reduced rate trial as many other companies in my sector seem to also do.

  33. Jenn says:

    Wow! I had never thought about it this way before. Maybe I should start charging and I’d have more visitors? hmm

  34. […] are lots of freebie seekers out there looking only for free stuff, so to avoid getting clicks from people who don’t […]

  35. […] that can make money for you, you must remember that you have to protect your blog from all those freebie seekers because it will not do you any […]

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