How can I use the word “free” in my advertising effectively?


Of all the common terms, phrases and vocabulary in marketing, the word “free” ranks toward the top. “Free” generates interest, and automatically triggers people into believing they’ve received something of value with no investment. The way we use the word free and effectively provide anything for free is subject to discussion.

For example, I have a website that sells apparel for dart players. In search of methods to attract qualified consumers to that site, I decided to offer free downloads including darts-related desktop and mobile wallpapers, tournament brackets, and other things I thought dart players might be searching for online. The results have been great, and the efforts have resulted in many likes and shares over social networks, more followers on those networks, and the generated sales that have come from those actions.

Consider the impact of “free.” Buy one, get one free. Eat at a pizza place nine times with your punch card and your 10th visit is free. Order today and receive a free gift. These are proven methods of reaching an audience and closing sales.

However use the word free with caution. Consider what the word is being attached to and how it might impact its perceived value. For example, imagine arriving here to find a download link. Which link would you click on and what does it say to you about its value?

  • “Free White Paper: Internet marketing tips and tricks. Click here to download.”
  • “Internet Marketing White Paper: Tips and tricks for success. Click here to download.”

While the free white paper sounds compelling, it has degraded the perceived value of its content due to being free, while leaving the word free out of the second link gives it more credibility. “Free” is powerful, but without focus it can have a negative effect on your goals. Be sure to apply it accordingly.

Rags to Stitches Productions