The Truth about FREE


The word triggers the lizard brain.

It reaches into the impulsive section of your reader’s brain—bypassing rational thought.

It makes them read on.
It makes them sign up.
It even makes them buy.

But do you wanna know the truth about free?

It’s been abused.

So now it makes people skeptical.


It makes them ask what’s the catch?

And why shouldn’t they? There is always a catch. An ulterior motive. Companies don’t just give stuff away for the fun of it. They want something from me.

So how do you use FREE effectively?

Tell them.

Let them in on the catch. Be open and honest. Your readers will appreciate it.

They’ll respect it.

Don’t just give them a free eBook and sneak their name on your email list. They’ll resent you for tricking them.

Let them know it’s an exchange.
Let them know what to expect.

Ask them to sign up for your email list to get their free gift. Let them know you’ll be sending them weekly/monthly/random deals that you know they’ll love.

When you invite prospects down for a free tax consultation, let them know you are going to give them a no pressure sales pitch of some of the more advanced services you offer.

Whatever business you’re in, when you give away free stuff, address the skepticism. Be open and honest with your customers.

Great marketing doesn’t trick people—it persuades them.

Paul Keep

Posted in copywriting, Power Words
6 comments on “The Truth about FREE
  1. Great post Paul. We all want things for free but we know there’s a catch…

    • Paul Keep says:

      Thanks Marian! We all just want a little honesty too. Give both and you can convert a lot more readers to customers or subscribers.

  2. Bill Davis says:

    Milton Friedman, Nobel-winning economist, famously said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” and he’s right!

    You ALWAYS must give up something (if only time or an email address). There’s opportunity cost associated with everything. But that said, you must persuade people that what you’re going to give them in return for their email address, for example, far outweighs the costs they incur.

    That’s why it’s important to not “churn and burn” email subscribers–when you do, you tip the scales toward “this ain’t free,” and subscribers leave.

    • Paul Keep says:

      Very true Bill. Thanks for commenting. I think most people subscribe to the philosophy that “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” and they just want to know what the cost actually is. And when it’s unclear people get skeptical.

  3. Henneke says:

    Yes, totally agree. Good point, Paul. I love your last sentence: “Great marketing doesn’t trick people—it persuades them.” Despite being a marketer, I hate marketing trickery!

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Paul B. Keep

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