How do you sell something that is free?
It has confounded me with a deeply researched value proposition that we are finding it difficult to impact our target audience with our offering. We did a remarkable amount of research prior to launching and found that in the industry we are targeting we needed a low to zero barrier to entry. I struggled with the concept of offering for free as often times if something is free, limited/zero value is placed in it.
It needs to be tied to an up-sell or side sell. Free on its own has no bearing. Attracting a whole lot of random free loaders is when it starts actually costing you more than if you had a ticket price to start with.
Hi Michael, as Lisa says, Ripe Near Me appears to have somewhat stolen your thunder. Also, I can’t see anywhere in your model where revenue is going to come from. I have assumed there is an up-sell planned in the future. To answer your question, I took a look over the Fresh Near You site, searching for reasons your uptake is failing. I have drawn just one conclusion. It is this: despite your research and admirable endeavour, the value proposition is not powerful enough. Here’s why. The single most important reason a vendor will sign up is if you show or prove she will enjoy an increase in traffic to the farm gate. Not just any old increase mind, but ten fold. Anything less and natural human apathy kicks in. It’s not enough to promise a doubling of traffic. If she currently has one walk-in a week, two is not going to rock her boat. Ten just might. So what you’ve got to do is get them over their (quite reasonable) ‘can’t be bothered/where’s the benefit?’ attitude. In other words – show me the money. The way to do that is to work really, really hard on developing your end-user base. You must create demand amongst your secondary target audience of food buyers, in order to on-sell the benefit to your primary target audience of vendors. So the question now becomes: is there a big enough market to support the business model/service? And only more market research will answer that. But not the kind of research that has you asking people whether they would buy the service if provided. Because of course, people will say yes. They just won’t actually do it. You’ve got to find a way to test people on their behaviour, not their intention. The reason most people (and I’m grossly generalising here) will say they want the service but fail to act, is that there are already enough low-effort alternatives available. With the best will in the world, why would I trek miles out of my way to buy 2 x kilos of organic potatoes when I already shop at the local farmers market, or can buy them at the supermarket? You have to overcome the convenience factor. And to do that, you must demonstrate to the end-user (again, as a ten-fold increase) the compelling benefit of making the journey. In your case, a tough ask. Clearly, there will be a die-hard core of anti-supermarket, support-the-farmer, dedicated organic produce buyers. But your competitor is wherever they are currently buying the same service from. It will take a gargantuan effort to change that behaviour. I ask again: is the audience big enough to support the model? In my view, for this model to work I think you need to forget the minority targets. They are buying the products anyway. Just not from you. Find a way to tap into the mass market. Your audience is the cashed-up, Masterchef obsessed, full-blown foodie. There are a lot more of them about than the organics-only crowd. And what you’re selling is: exclusivity. The rationale is: superior taste. Translated into marketing as: to put real love into your cooking, you must use authentic flavours. Authentic flavour comes from the freshest ingredients. And they are only available from authentic growers. In summary – unless there is sufficient demand from end-users, vendors will continue to ignore you. Create demand in the biggest sector you can find. Give end-users a compelling reason to use the service. When demand has risen to a sufficient level, convert your free subscription vendors to a paid version of the model. And there is the revenue stream. Now the question becomes: is it worth it? I hope you'll forgive my long-winded answer and find this (extremely condensed) marketing strategy of some use.
Hi Michael, I love the concept of fresh near me - have you seen ripenear.me? I think it is very similar.
I'm wondering what your business model is though do you take a percentage of sales, or are you building a user list / community that then you can market other products and services to as Steven has suggested?
Gursimar shah ,
at Webpro India
I feel keeping the things free for some time to promote your product or services is good practice. But i believe that if you offer 100% refund policy for services / product if unsatisfied will be even better than offfering it absolutely free.
We applied same for our Seo services and Web design services and if was more effective than giving it 100% free.
For promoting your products for free and engaging more and more people to your services or products . You can use different modes of platforms being available on Internet .
Your presentation , product quality and unique services holds the Key .
Its true that offering free sometimes doubts the credibility and that's where you have to create right perception four your services or products to target clients. Always use right platforms to advertise , also offer free services or products for limited times frames.And if possible within free services try offering limited services and for rest full product/service you can always invite them for paid services or products.
Being local Web designers from India we normally offers free services around festival seasons . Only motto being to make people aware more and more about our products and services.
Julie alexis ,
at web development New York
If you want to sell your product free then compare it with other products which is similar to your item and used by users. You can convince customer by telling about the difference and qualities of product. Hope it really works in business marketing. Most of the offshore web designers also use this trick to give some services in low cost to their clients.