digital marketing: coupons

One of the most impressive things I experienced on my first visit to the US (I was thirteen) were the free samples at the supermarket. My cousin and I would go along with his parents grocery shopping for the sole reason to enjoy the free seafood samples. It was something I had never seen in Germany before.

Free samples are a pretty simple and straightforward marketing strategy. Offer something for free, get a potential customer hooked, then charge money.

This already worked pretty good in the past. But with digital goods it will become even better. The limiting factor in the past was that the samples had to be produced and that cost money. Therefore they were limited. The costs for copying digital goods however are next to nil. Therefore its easy to shell out free digital samples.

One thing with giving things away for free however is that a customer may not value them as much as if he had to pay for them. Its hard to explain to a customer why he should pay for something that he used to get for free before. Think of email services for example. We expect them to be free.

A way to get around this problem is to put a price tag on a product and then to give it anyway away for free to a limited group of people who will (hopefully) act as multipliers. Smashwords, the ebook platform does exactly that in the form of coupons. The books have a price but the author can chose to give out coupons and set a discount from a couple of cents to completely for free.

That is exactly what we are doing with our new book. If you are interested in traveling, you can get a free coupon of my second book (written together with Sherrie) here.


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