One of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook is to give away free stuff. We do this at trade shows, conferences and whenever we test the market for new products.

When customers take our free stuff it proves they want what we give. This is good. We run back to the office and start with sales projections and growth curves. We must validate customer appetite. ‘Do they want our product?’ It’s only half of the equation.

We should also validate customer commitment. ‘Will they pay for it?’

When we give away free stuff we remove the barrier to entry. We take away the opportunity cost that our customers consider when they play limited budgets out in their heads. You have competitor products in your analysis. In the mind of your customer, you also compete with everything else that is more important in their budget.

You cannot test this with free stuff. You cannot test this by interviewing your customer either. You can only test this when you force your customer to make the financial decision.

Customers take free stuff. They pay for value.

Train like you race.


Will H McMahan

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