Exploiting Free

I'm always getting gifts in the mail. Maybe you get them too. I get pens, key chains, maps, and thousands of stickers printed with my return mailing address. The organizations that send me the gifts are relying upon an old sales and marketing tactic that is called The Law of Psychological Reciprocity. Basically, it means that if I give you something or do something for you, you are motivated to do something for me in return.

If you've ever responded to an offer for a "Free Gift" in exchange for you donating or purchasing something in return, then you are an example of how reciprocity works. Has anyone on Facebook ever asked you to accept a gift? In return, you have to agree to give up some information to the company who created the game, survey, or gift. That is a use of the law of reciprocity.

Now comes the sticky part? Is it okay to use tactics like this in sales and marketing? I bet if we took a survey it would come down to "it depends on what you're using it for." If I'm using it to help provide clean drinking water in third-world countries is it a good tactic?

Many home security companies give away fire extinguishers or entire systems in exchange for an appointment in your home. After a sales presentation, you discover that free will cost you $500 in monthly monitoring fees. How do you feel about that?

For me it comes down to applying The Rule of Exploitation. It's my rule but it works this way for me. If I feel by giving a gift I am trying to take advantage or exploit someone, I don't do it. If I can truly give something away with no strings attached, then it truly is free.

For example, you can go to Listen First – Sell Later and download a free PDF copy of my book. No strings attached. I don't even add you to my email list. I hope by reading the free copy that you'll like it and we'll build a relationship. (There is a code to enter when you download which is there to allow me to personally thank you. It is LFSL2009, by the way.)

But, if after you downloaded the copy, you started getting emails from me offering other products for sale, I think you would rightly feel taken advantage of.

Reciprocity is a powerful tool that marketers, sales people, copywriters – all of us – use in our daily lives.

Please don't use it to take advantage of others.

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Selling To The Four Personality Types

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