By Thomas Benton
I was in Sam's Club last weekend. Everywhere I turned someone was offering me a "taste" of one concoction or another. I was given the opportunity to taste appetizers, casseroles, meats and desserts. It's really difficult to stay on a diet in these places!
I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Guess what ... more product demonstrators wanting me to sample their wares. Then I went to the mall that afternoon. You guessed it. Every business in the food court was offering a free taste of their menu items.
Then it occurred to me. I've been getting free "tastes" on the web for years! So have you. If you've ever downloaded a demo or evaluation copy of software, that is. What happened? If you learned to use the software and liked it, you ordered when the trial period expired. Right?
Which do you like best? Reading a huge "scroll" of sales copy that convinces you to make a "risk free" purchase? You've got to buy first and return it for a refund if you don't want to keep it.
Or, reading a few short paragraphs that describe the benefits of a product and then invites you to try it before you buy it? You download it and don't spend any money unless you want to keep using it.
I must confess, I prefer the try-before-you-buy approach.
This is a proven way to get someone to try your software. But, does the try-before-you-buy technique work well with other products?
It isn't a good idea to ship a book or some other tangible product without being paid first. You're sure to get ripped off numerous times.
How about eBooks and eCourses? Depends. Can you present partial content that will be tantalizing enough to persuade the reader to purchase? You allow the reader to taste your product by unlocking the first few chapters. (The remaining content is locked and requires a password). You can also limit the evaluation period so that it expires after a predetermined time. Your customer must purchase a password or registration code online to unlock the remaining content and deactivate the expiration date.
You can turn your eBook into a viral marketing piece if you use software that allows rebranding. Your affiliates can offer free download of your eBook from their sites. Through the rebranding, they get credit for the sales made through their downloads. Clickbank's affiliate program works well with this plan.
Include links to other products, both your own and those you're offering through an associate relationship. You never know. They might decide against buying your eBook, but decide to buy something else that captured their interest.
If you want to take a look at a working example that includes password protected pages, expiration date, and a resources page with affiliate links, visit http://www.webdesignwisdom.com/magsite. Download my eCourse, "How to Build a Magnetic Web Site: Accelerated Basic Training for the Internet Entrepreneur". You'll also see instructions for downloading a rebrandable version that you can offer at your web site.
How about private sites? Depends. If your private site offers constantly changing and updated material, a free trial period might work for you. You'd need to assign temporary passwords with an automatic expiration in a few days. You might also password protect certain directories that wouldn't be available to the free trial users.
Give your customers a "free taste" if you can. So what if they don't buy after trying? More than likely they wouldn't have bought anyway. And, besides, they might just pass it on to a friend who'll make the purchase.
Thomas Benton is the author of "How to Build a Magnetic Web Site: Accelerated Basic Training for the Internet Entrepreneur". Learn more about Tom's unique web design strategies at http://www.webdesignwisdom.com