I often get asked by clients and others, “Isn’t the word ‘FREE’ overused in advertising and isn’t there a better word, and doesn’t it attract the ‘wrong’ type of patient?”
Wow… That was a mouthful.
I can attest to the word FREE being the most powerful word in the English language when it comes to advertising.
Why? I use it ALL THE TIME and I find, when it’s left out, results drop.
Listen, anytime you can offer something of value for free to get more people reading your ad, do it!
But, as you might imagine, there are some RULES to follow. Here are a few for you to keep in mind:
1.) Message to Market Match – Free “Thing” has to be relevant to the prospects receiving it. Often best if they’ve (prospect) has requested it. (Lead Generation Advertising – getting prospects to raise their hand and then delivering a laser-focused sales message)
2.) Message to Media Match – Free “Thing” has to be advertised in media choice (mail, radio, TV, etc.) that is relevant to targeted prospective patients.
3.) “Thing” being offered is of value
4.) Tight deadline to respond
5.) Preponderance of proof (i.e. Testimonials)
There are other rules, but this is the starting point. Usually, a FREE offer will outpull an offer associated with a cost of some kind. However, if service or product being delivered is of high perceived value, prospect generally suspects there’ll be a hook of some kind in order to get FREE thing advertised.
I like using FREE in situations like this: Buy 1 Get 1 FREE! Or, I also like: “FREE Exam and X-rays with simple cleaning.”
So, in short, no, it’s not overused. Prudent use generally leads to profitable use. No, there certainly, in my book isn’t a better word, unless it’s the prospect’s first name (e.g. Bob, Call Today for a FREE _____.).
Does it attract the “wrong” type of patient? Heavens NO!
We attract new clients to our advertising practice every single day of the week utilizing, and I believe prudently and smartly so, the word FREE. In fact, could very well be that you were originally attracted to this advertising practice in much the same manner. YOU, if you’re getting this, are EXACTLY the type of client we like…So, in my world FREE is a very good word and it attracts the type of clients we want…based on demographics, need, and location.
Human nature has been coded to respond to FREE. I’m not sure why, but it just has been. Even smarty pants MBA-types who’ve had it drilled into their heads, and who supposedly know better (there’s never a free lunch, right?) respond.
My conclusion: Use it smartly and as often as you can.