Generally speaking, there’s no better way to get someone’s attention than to offer them something FOR FREE.
(I said generally … if you want to get specific, okay, sure you can probably get a lot of attention running naked down the freeway or wearing flaming pantyhose on your head or both, but let’s not go there, k, thanks. And yes, I know what you’re thinking smarty, if you have flaming pantyhose on your head you can’t also be naked unless you’ve got some kind of quantum clothing arrangement going on; you’re very clever. But we already knew that because you’re visiting my site which is, as clearly stated, a place where everyone who visits is clever and attractive, so, you know, well done.)
It’s easy to think that there’s no risk to giving somebody something for free. If they like it, great, they’ll probably be back for more. And if not, no harm done, right?
Actually, it turns out that by mishandling a freebie, you can turn someone who didn’t know about you (or even worse, someone who had a neutral-leaning-positive attitude about you) into a RABID HATE FURNACE OF RAGE. Hate furnaces are bad enough, but come on people, RABID.
There are lots of ways to screw up the “Here take this free thing” interaction, but a way to guarantee you’ll make enemies? Give people something they think is worth less than the effort it took to get it. The critical qualification there is that they just have to think it wasn’t worth the cost. Sometimes factors beyond your control can turn what should’ve been a low-risk interaction into a PERSONAL INSULT AND INJURY.
That free chicken sandwich? TOO MUCH MAYONNAISE, NOT WORTH THE 20-MINUTE DRIVE AND 15-MINUTES IN LINE. That app? I HAD TO FACTORY RESET MY PHONE TO UNINSTALL IT. The meeting where they promised pizza? THEY ORDERED TWO MEDIUMS AND 36 PEOPLE SHOWED UP. This blargh post? TOO MANY ALL CAPS.
There are many more ways to measure cost than just money. Time, effort, opportunity, expectation. When you’re offering something “free”, it’s important to consider exactly how “free” it is. If your first “no-risk” interaction with someone turns them into a RABID HATE FURNACE OF RAGE against you, it’ll be nearly impossible to win them back.