Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you… You’re checking out a product or service and are loving everything about it until the word FREE! is added and you immediately start to doubt it. Then the questions set in: How can they be giving something away for free? Is it a bad product? Are they going to swindle me down the line? What’s in it for them?
The problem is not that something is free. The problem is that many companies have overused this word and it’s now a red flag for many consumers. But there still companies and services out there that are offering something for free because they truly want the best for their clients. So how can we, as consumers, know the difference between the well-meaning companies that want to gain your trust by offering something for free vs those companies who are hiding something by offering it for free?
When Free Is Good
A new business will often give away high-quality products for free because they want to establish themselves as a trustworthy service for your future needs. Any time you enter your email address to get something for free, you are joining a mailing list. And that’s not really a bad thing, if it’s a service that you like and are open to hearing more from down the line. You get a free product now in exchange for a couple extra emails each month. Not a bad price to pay if what you’re getting is truly improving your quality of life. As for quality, a good company knows that handing out a shoddy product for free now, will shoot them in the foot when asking for sales later on. So most of the free stuff out there is actually pretty good quality, such as everything coming from HubSpot.com.
When Free Is Bad
How do you know when you are getting something high-quality for free versus getting some low-quality filler? The short answer is… you don’t. And you won’t know until you go through the process of signing up and downloading the product. The good news is, you can unsubscribe from the service at any time. So if you look over the product they have to offer, and feel like it’s kind of shady or didn’t meet your expectations, then it’s a click of a button to unsubscribe and forget that ever happened. And usually you shouldn’t let it stop there. If they gave away a free product that didn’t meet it’s price value (remember: if it was free and didn’t meet your expectations, then that is BAD), they’re probably not going to blow you away when you go to pay for something, either. So unsubscribe, forget they existed, and find another option.
When Free Is Free (but shouldn’t be assumed to be free)
Sometimes free comes up between two friends or two acquaintances. It can be as a friendly favor or a professional courtesy. Either way, if you are the person initiating the request for the free service, never assume that it’s free. It’s all in the delivery. For instance, never ask, “Hey can you give me some free tickets for your project?” You can be more eloquent and professional in your approach by asking, “I would really love to go to the event. Do you have any way to offer discounted tickets? Thank you for looking into it for me!” This way if your acquaintance can offer free tickets, then they probably will. But you have not gone into it assuming that they are going to offer them for free.
The difference here is that your acquaintance, unlike these businesses, does not gain anything for these transactions other than offering a professional courtesy. So, as a consumer and friend, do not go into anything assuming that you’re going to get something for free. This person is dedicating their time (and remember, time=money) to helping you so even when something is free, don’t assume it’s free and remember the old adage… Beggars Can’t Be Choosers.