It’s not unusual for companies to decide to invest in marketing by subsidising their promotional material, but this can be counterproductive if you’re not careful. It’s all about perceived value. For example, suppose you’ve written a really good technical guide as a means to grow your prospect mailing list. The obvious thing to do would be to advertise your free technical guide, request contact details in order to get it, and then to add the names of those people to your mailing list (with their agreement, I hope).
But nobody’s going to have high expectations of the quality and usefulness of the technical guide, if you’re just saying “come and get it”. I’m not suggesting that you stick a £10 price tag on it, but prospects would at least understand the value if you did so. We expect to jump through hoops to get the good things in life. If an exchange isn’t equitable (even if it’s our favour), we’re suspicious.
Many people drop out when they come across something free, thinking that if it’s just a click away, it must be relatively worthless (when in fact it cost a lot to put together). Companies are often devastated at what a low takeup they get for an offer of a lovingly-crafted, big-budget, authority-establishing guide to their technology. They often – mistakenly – start blaming it on the quality of the advertising.
So is there a compromise? I think there is, and it’s to live up to people’s expectations. They want the end product to be good. And they expect to have to “pay” for a good product. So why not make them “pay”, by turning the offer around? Why not say: “join our mailing list today, and in exchange we’ll send you this amazing guide, free of charge”?
To me, as a prospect, that’s actually a more comfortable deal.