If you’ve ever experienced a Costco or Sam’s Club at noon on a Saturday afternoon, you understand the pull of “free.” From chicken to pasta to cookies — and often even wine and beer — people line up 10 deep for the samples meant to encourage them to buy the actual product.
But how many of them heft that 27-pound package of mozzarella sticks into their cart and pay for it at the register? Some say it’s at least 25%.
That’s all fine and well in the profitable, big box food warehouse industry, but for most small business owners, the stats aren’t so good. Free trials may snare people, but does the hook ever set? In many cases, no.
If you’re tired of feeling the pull but never landing the fish, here’s what you need to do.
Create a “Fear of Loss”
As a small business owner, you can’t afford to give your product or service away for free — but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to do. The trick is to keep it manageable on your end and create a fear of loss on theirs.
- Step one: Make sure your product or service is fantastic.
- Step two: Satisfy your customer.
- Step three: Create a sense of urgency. “Your trial will end in one week! Act now!”
Your product or service is on point. Your customer is satisfied. Now, you’re creating a fear of loss that they can’t ignore. Hello, new subscriber!
Offer a Discount
Up until this point, your trial customer has already gotten something for nothing. Your bottom line cannot sustain that for much longer — but what if you could each absorb some of the cost?
Let’s say your price point for this product or service is generally $45 a month. If you offer your would-be customer a $10/month discount, you’re still $35 to the good. If you don’t offer that discount and the customer cancels, you’re out $45.
(Simple formula for the mathematically challenged: $35 > $0.)
Be Upfront About What Happens Next
If you require a credit card to sign up for the free trial, be a decent human being and email them a day or two before their card is about to be charged. (Let’s be honest — we’ve all forgotten to cancel a trial once or twice.)
If you don’t require a credit card, get in contact a day or two before, anyway. Let them know how to convert their free membership to a paid membership, and make it as easy as possible. No one wants to have to tell their life story in order to sign up for a service.
Be Consistent (Even After the Trial)
Your product or service needs to be so awesome, so ah-maz-ing, that people don’t want to lose it. This means during the free trial period, you need to go over the top to please.
Are you a pet groomer offering a free nail trim? That dog (or cat, or guinea pig) needs to come out with a bow in her hair or a bow tie around his neck while chewing happily on a species-appropriate treat.
But what happens when you have hooked said dog/cat/guinea pig owner, and they’ve decided to pay for your service? Your level of care cannot change! If their precious pooch/kitty/piggy comes out sans bow and treat, they’re going to feel cheated.
Whatever you do to attract your customer, you need to do to keep your customer. Anything less feels like a “bait and switch” tactic.
The Bottom Line
Many small business owners offer a free trial, assuming their product or service is so fantastic that people will have no choice but to continue. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. However, when you can create a fear of loss, offer a discount, lay out the details in advance, and stay consistent, your chances of converting skyrocket!
Looking for some expert help? Mischa Communications is in your corner! Call or email today and let us guide your customers from “free” to “I absolutely want to pay for this!”