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We all want something for nothing. The word “free” is one of the most powerful words in the English language. Millions of us scarf up free rulers, caps, t-shirts, cups, and samples of every kind every day. We don’t even have to be hungry, but pass out free food in bite-size samples and we’ll stand in line! You can use this powerful sales tool in your online business in a number of ways.

First, realize the tremendous power offering something, anything, for free has. Offer me something for free and if I like it, I’m likely to buy the next one and I’m likely to buy it from you! Even when we do pay for something, we like to get something for free along with it. How many times have you taken advantage of the buy-one-get-one free (BOGO) offer? We do it when we order take-out food and when we buy household cleaners. It’s fun to get something for nothing!

This can be an especially useful sales tool if you’re just beginning your online business and haven’t built up a customer base yet. It can also work as a powerful teaser and it is a fair practice as long as you deliver what you promise. For example, don’t offer me “Ten Ways to Discover the Moon” absolutely free and then only give me five and tell me I’ll have to purchase the other five. That’s not fair and you’ll lose customers before you get them by doing this.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly acceptable to offer me “Ten Ways to Discover the Moon” absolutely free and then offer to sell me five more. Of course, the trick is to make sure I enjoy those ten ways so much that I’ll be begging for five more ? at my own expense! The bonus offer is another popular “gimme” in both on and off-line marketing. Buy this and I’ll give you that for free. It’s similar to a BOGO offer, but the products are different. Infomercials use this bonus all the time. As soon as they reveal the price, you’ll hear, “but wait! Order right now and you’ll get the whatever absolutely free!”

Don’t forget the “try before you buy” offers. These are especially popular with software and subscriptions. Give me something totally free for 30 days and if I like it, I’ll pay for it after the 30 days is up. Free trials are popular because, as consumers, we’ll get to see exactly what we’ll be paying for before we pony up a dime. This is a great way to build trust.

Some Internet marketers that offer free trials require billing information before the free trial can start so that they can bill customers once the free trial expires. Others require no billing information up front; the customer must re-register after the trial period with billing information at that time. Whichever way you decide to operate your free trial, state the requirements of the offer before your customer fills out a long form, only to be disappointed because he or she doesn’t have a credit card. Remember, free means free and sales mean money, so use this Internet marketing tactic to your advantage; just be honest and fair to your customers. They’ll be back.