Mike Essex is the author of Free Stuff Everyday, a guide on how customers can get free stuff, and a search specialist at Digital Marketing Agency, Impact Media. In the following guest post, he talks about how brands can improve their customer satisfaction simply by giving their products away.
Whether you are working on a new product, or have been in the market for years, it’s possible get a real insight in to the mindset of customers simply by giving away free stuff. They can help build new customer relationships via brand advocates, or repair broken relationships. This article examines how you can integrate freebies throughout the product life cycle and the improved customer satisfaction that will occur as a result.
To ensure your customers are happy with your product when it is released it’s important to start at the very beginning of the new product process. Gather together a collection of your target audience and invite them in for focus groups on your new product. Involve everyone from bloggers in your niche, to past customers of your other products. Make sure everyone signs an NDA, and you’ll ensure all ideas discussed are protected. In return offer them an exclusive preview, and the final product for free.
By doing this you’ll understand product flaws early on, and will have an idea of whether the final product will satisfy customers. Better yet, when you give the product away at the end of the process you’ll have a group of customers who can help spread the word on your product. If you’ve been able to integrate their ideas in to the finished product, then you will have a good set of satisfied customers and brand advocates.
We’re not ready to launch just yet and as with the initial research it’s just as important to test the finished product on another sample group. The same process applies, promise an exclusive look, and let them keep the product when they’re finished.
In addition ask everyone to provide you with a quote on their experience with the product. Gather these quotes in multiple formats (audio, video, text) and when you come to market the product you have a set of satisfied customer opinions that can be used to encourage people to make a purchase. For new customers, seeing other satisfied customers leads to improved sales, and psychologically improves the likelihood the purchaser will be satisfied as they have seen other people who enjoyed the product.
When you are ready to launch in addition to using the previous quotes, you should then provide free
products to key customers in your niche. This includes:
- People using similar products on video sites
- Industry Experts
- Your most vocal social media fans
- Writers in your niche
This is very much a numbers game. If your product is expensive then you won’t be able to hit every possible source, so choose the customers who are most likely to be satisfied by your product. If your product is very expensive then offer a 30 day free trial, or a product loan as a freebie alternate. Should your product be digital, or have low creation costs, then you should still hold back slightly – as you don’t want you entire customer base to be given a free product.
When products have been sent out, ask for reviews or coverage in return. The more satisfied these customers are the better coverage you will get. Likewise the better a freebie you can provide will help this satisfaction grow.
Follow the product launch by searching across social media to find people who have said positive things about your product. Visit review websites, search Twitter and Google for your product name to seek out these positive customer experiences. Each time you find one, add this customer to a spreadsheet and then try to find their email contact details and other contact methods they have listed online.
You can then encourage further loyalty by giving them something for free. As they already own the product this could be – another sample for a friend, merchandise you have, random things from the office or a visit to your office/factory. Even spending time to follow these customers on social media and engage with them can help grow the relationship. You can even use these customers in helping plan your next product, repeating the process again.
Negative Customer Feedback
If a customer simply isn’t satisfied there’s no reason to ignore them, and free stuff can be used as a means of getting them back on your side. If a customer had a bad experience with your product, then offer them a replacement or similar goods. A refund is a great way to apologise, and can lead to their original bad comments being removed, as their satisfaction and trust in your brand is restored.
By giving something away in return you can get vital customer feedback throughout your entire product process. Customers know what they want, and the more opinions you can gather on your product the better. A stronger overall product will lead to improved satisfaction. From positive customers, to negative experiences there are very few scenarios that can’t be improved with a freebie.