Christmas and New Year are holidays when gifts are given. Gifts are by definition something we get for free.
Giving free content and products – gifts – is a competitive business strategy. Free products and content should be perceived as offering of free values to customers. Customers get an opportunity to experience and accept the values without the pressure of the purchase decision. This results in more customers accepting the values and makes the brand more competitive.
However, this is not as simple as just deleting the price.
Free content (content marketing)
Most companies are based on a specific know-how which they capitalize on by selling the products. They can also offer this know-how for free via content. Customers then accept the value of the know-how via content and proceed to the purchase. This is the essential definition of content marketing but through the perspective of values.
Challenge with content marketing is that it has to be aligned with the values of the brand. A connection between the content, products, company core know-how, and brand values must be clear. This is not easy to achieve in higher frequency. If content offers separate values it can perform well but the products and company won’t.
Free product strategy
If a company has multiple products some of them can be offered for free. Also new products can be added only to be offered for free. Microsoft Explorer and Google Maps are good examples of this free product strategy.
This strategy is most efficient if free products are independently accepted by the customer, and not bundled with other products. If they are bundled then customers might not give them the full attention. For example, Google Maps is not given for free as an add-on to another Google product, but it is a standalone service which offers its own value. It connects well to other Google products and the Google brand. The free product works best if it really is used as a real product, just without a price.
Motivating customers by giving them something free existed ever since commerce started but often it is not used well. The success factor is that the brand, products, and content all offer the same values to the customer. The best way to offer free values – gifts – in alignment with the all other brands in the portfolio.