The Hidden Power of “FREE”

By: Selena McIntyre

Normally when I hear that something is free, I just think “yeah right” or “what’s the catch” because things that sound too good to be true usually are. But I want to talk about a different approach to giving things away that will actually help increase your business and not create any doubt. I’m not talking about flyer’s, coupons or any type of advertising either. I’m going to tell you about a small “free” item and small gesture of kindness has turned into a very powerful word of mouth and referral campaign.

El Cazador's billboard in Tifton Georgia

El Cazador's Billboard

A few years ago I was designing an billboard ad for a local Mexican Restaurant that had just changed owners and wasn’t doing very well. I didn’t do anything any different for this restaurant & had never even been there before. The owner loved my work so much that he wanted me to make matching business cards for him, which is something we normally don’t do, but for some reason we did this time. The owner came by to see a proof & loved it & his billboards that I did for him so much. He was thrilled that we were willing to do something out of the ordinary to help him out and was so happy with the artwork I did for him, that he told me to come by his restaurant & he’d buy my lunch. So my husband and I went by there & loved the food & the atmosphere. They bought both of our lunches that day and he didn’t have to. We were happy because we just had a really good lunch and didn’t even pay for any of it.

We came back shortly after that and still go there at least once a week. We started bringing friends, family and co-workers with us. Now everyone we brought are bringing people here and those people are bringing more people. Two years later, the place is always packed and it all started from one “free lunch” (and a few billboards.)

I’m definitely not saying to start giving things away to everyone, but small things do matter & can make a huge difference. Never underestimate the power of kindness. Treat everyone special even if they aren’t current customers. Talk to people you see on a regular basis (dentist, teacher, vendor, neighbor, etc.) about your business and give them coupons , discounts or even freebies occasionally. You never know how things will turn out. The best type and most powerful type of advertising is Free.

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