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Monday, July 8, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Why We Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Free Offers

*Photo by Kevin Dooley on

Thought for the Day: Everyone loves a bargain. I must admit I am a yard sale addict. I cherish all the bargains I have found & recycled over the years. My finds become like family treasures. Last week we celebrated our nation's independence. The posts on the blog focused on freedom & independence: Saturday's Songs for the Soul American Pie, Don McLean & George M. Cohan, #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds on Independence & Veterans, Wednesday's Words of Wisdom:Khalil Gibran & Dr. Lavi on Freedom, & Throwback Tuesday Thank Someone Who Helped You Become Independent & Motivational Mondays Modern Parenting Parable. America is known as the "Land of the Fre," but it might also be called: The Land of the Free Offer! We seem to have a love/hate affair with free offers. In the new age of self-publishing, I have resisted giving free offers of my book, since I dedicate half of my profits to the nonprofit organizations featured in my book However, it appears to be an effective way to get the word out & may help the nonprofits as well. Therefore, I decided to consider breaking down & having a free offer. I asked one of my interns to research how to go about setting up a free campaign on

I also tried to see what other psychologists have to say about freebies. I found very little research but a slew of free offers for courses in psychology. It seems that psychologists simply believes that free offers work & have been using them in the field.

I did find an interesting article by an publisher, : Using the Psychology of Free. Slocum says that, "A free product comes with low expectations (“hey, it’s free!”) & neutral perceptions (“what’s the worst that can happen?”). If that product proves useful, expectations are exceeded & perception elevates from neutral to positive (“it’s free and it’s cool/useful/interesting, etc.”)." I actually think that free products sometimes carry negative expectation ("It's too good to be true, so I won't even take a look.") When offers are over sold, they tend to turn me off & I simply don't bother or assume they are scams. So a free offer needs to move some people from negative expectations, not just neutral ones, to a positive perceptions.

Recently, I received an e-mail from my nephew, a talented musician, with a clever use of a free offer. It went like this:
    "What if I told you there was a pill? A pill that would make all your troubles go away. A pill that would give you the intelligence of Albert Einstein, the athleticism of Michael Jordan, the charisma of Don Draper, & the ability to recall humorous quotes from popular movies. A pill that would bring you eternal youth, wealth & happiness. Would you believe me?
     Now imagine I told you that pill was FREE. And that it wasn't even a pill, at all, but a   Plushgun (My nephew is the drummer) show!
     Well, believe it, because it's happening, and it's happening this weekend:
        FREE Plushgun Summer Kickoff Show
        Saturday, June 29th at 10pm Spike Hill - 184 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY
       Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, if you don't leave the show feeling like a cross between Superman and Abraham Lincoln, I'll give you your money back, no questions asked.
       Also: SAVE THE DATE - Saturday, July 13th. Sneak preview of PREP - an indierock tragicomedy. Details forthcoming."

I loved the e-mail announcement & know the band is great (they have over 12,000 fans on Facebook who agree with me, since you may think I'm prejudiced (which I am as Matt's aunt), so I turned it into ta double tweet & sent it out for Matt:
                           from @WakeUpDreamNow
     1)WhatIfAPillEndedTroubles GaveUEinstein's IQ DonDraper's Charm &Was FREE?    
        @Plushgun Sat 6/29 10PM Spike Hill 184 Bedford Ave Brooklyn NY
      2)Sounds2Good2BTrue? If U don't LeaveFeelingLikeACrossBtween Superman & AbeLincoln, @Plushgun will give U ur money back, no questions asked.

Matt's e-mail captured both the skepticism & the love we have for free offers. With humor he encouraged people to come & have fun at the concert.

The fact that the Psychology of Free is not fully understood did not escape Mac Slocum, either. Slocum concluded that, "the equation of free + good enough = improved chance of success is often obscured by concerns over reliable revenue streams & clear business models (which is understandable since both are in short supply in the free universe)."

Although I still have a bit of atrepidation about setting up a free offer, I will be preparing one soon for you. So stay tuned if you have not purchased my book yet & would like to grab an e-book copy. How do you feel about free offers? Would you be more likely to recommend something to someone if you tried it for free or purchased it?

*Photo Credit:

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