Ask The Mompreneur: Free Trial Offers Can Bring In Business

By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.

One of the best parts of going for ice cream is getting the chance to taste a few flavors before you fork over your money for a full scoop. And for many businesses, a free trial of your product or service can be beneficial in the same way.

When you offer a "taste" of your business at no charge, both you and the customer can benefit. The customer gets to reduce their risk of an unsatisfactory purchase and ideally your business gets the chance to engage, educate and qualify your prospect.

Here's how to create the right offer, deliver real value and get the most from your free trials.

THE RIGHT OFFER The best free offers are both generous and bounded. You want to find the sweet spot for giving something away without giving away the store.

Deanna Arnold is the owner of Employers Advantage, a company that provides outsourced human resources services.

"We get a lot of 'Can I just ask you something real quick?'" Arnold said. "But it typically isn't that easy when it comes to employment situations and regulations. My advice is to know what your limits are and don't devalue your service/product by overextending your kindness."

Her solution was to set clear boundaries: "I created 'Free HR Advice Fridays' for small-business owners, so people who aren't currently clients can reach out to us."

DELIVER REAL VALUE Once someone takes you up on your free trial, be sure to provide something of real value. After all, the whole point of free trials is to create trust and goodwill, which won't happen if you spend the whole time trying to sell.

In my coaching practice, I offer a free session to people referred by my current clients. Even though these trial sessions are delivered at no charge, the prospect is still giving me something of value, namely, 90 minutes of their time. To show respect for this significant piece of their workday, I let them know up front that they will get a 30-minute orientation (where I'm able to educate them as to what coaching is and is not), followed by a 60-minute working session that's all about them. At the end, regardless whether they convert to a paying client, I want them to walk away happy with what they received.

GET THE MOST FROM YOUR FREE TRIALS In order to get the most from your offer, make sure you follow up with the leads generated by your free trial. Depending on your business, this could mean sending a monthly newsletter, asking for referrals, or requesting an online review. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.

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