Yesterday, Katie Couric featured Denny’s on the evening news. Denny’s is more Main Street than Wall Street and the CEO wasn’t showcased for multi-million dollar bonuses but for giving away breakfasts. It made a great “feel good” story.
Denny’s CEO plainly stated that the free breakfasts were a promotion to get more business.”It was just a couple of pancakes, eggs and bacon,” he said.
But amidst the nightly gloom-cast of unemployment and Wall Street bailouts, Denny’s was portrayed as humanitarian for giving back to the unfortunate in their communities. The reality was that it was a successful campaign that has since brought in more than enough customers to cover the costs of the free breakfasts because the promotion expanded it client base.
Free is good. It makes good press and helps develop a client base. It’s one of the building blocks of tremendously successful online and traditional businesses. Google was a free search engine long before it began collecting revenue. Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter are all examples of websites whose successes are not yet matched by revenue.
It may seem counterproductive to give something away–possibly even before you’ve established a steady stream of revenue. But any business owner who is trying to attract new business should consider offering something free.
What can you offer? Three simple ideas:
- Information. It may be the most cherished and sought after commodity on the web. Give it freely — on your website, through social media, blogs, etc., and you will develop your market. Develop your market and you will sell products and services.
- Free shipping. If you’ve got the goods use free shipping will help close the deal.
- Free samples. Turn prospects into customers by letting them try a free sample.
Give freely. It pays.