What FREE will get you

There’s a school of thought out there that we’re seeing more and more these days: free.

I’ve talked about it before. (In fact, almost exactly a year a ago.)

If you’ve been living in a hole somewhere, IHOP I mean, Denny’s has given away breakfast a couple of times this year already. And yesterday, KFC gave away grilled chicken sandwiches in hopes that people would realize that there is, in fact, something inside their doors that’s not fried.

I won’t argue that free gets “butts in seats.” Because it does. But free doesn’t keep them there. Free used like IHOP and KFC used it is a short-term tactic that wreaks of desperation. They got a spike in mentions and sales, and then the freeloaders are out the door and on their way, looking for the next sucker who might be giving a handout.

You know, the most respected brands out there don’t do FREE. Because they don’t need to. They value their brand and value their product and have some freakin’ respect for who they are and what they deliver. When you offer free, you are automatically devaluing yourself. When you give away 1.5 million products, are you really building a relationship? Are you really connecting with your customers? Free holds no value – literally.

So leave free alone. Use it as a surprise and delight to those customers who are your brand’s friends. Create value WITH free, not throw it away because of free. Because free can be your friend, but it can also send you to the depths.

*Image credit to anika, via Flickr.

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