We prefer to pay for things. Or why your freebie may be seen as a lie.

The first time I was in Mexico, I was just out of college, and 3 of my friends and I decided to go to a New Year’s Eve festival near Cancun. I managed to book a hotel room in town, away from hotel row for a few days but took a “We’ll Do it when we get there” approach on the car rental.
Big mistake. Every single car-rental place we called was renting cars at 3 times the normal rate, because we were so late in organizing it, because it was the holidays, etc.

Except this one guy, with a very flashy stand in town, stickers all over it of happy, smiling white folk, who had a guaranteed car rental with 1 free day plus a great rate per day if… we went to a time-share presentation on hotel row.

Too good to be true?

We gave it a shot. As we had very little money, we took a bus and walked a other mile to the hotel. We wore the tanks and flip flops and whatever seemed permissible to us in those days, not looking like we could afford our flights to Mexico let alone a time share.

The reps looked grossly disappointed, as they offered us coffee and cakes they had to offer and laser-pointed through their presentation. We listened respectfully. At the end – an hour later – Jenny asked about the car. “So we were told you guys had car rentals where one day is free plus great rates thereafter.”

“Oh no. No cars left. It’s busy season.”

“But we were told it was a guarantee, that if we came here, listened to this presentation and cared, we would get a car.”

And that’s when it started. The woman who hated us most, the one who eyed us angrily from the moment we walked in, the one with incredibly shiny, hot-iron straightened hair and a three-piece suit that looked hauntingly stuffy, the one who had the most to prove – we guessed – began to call us names.

“You want something for nothing, you American bitches from shit town?”

“Um what? We’re from New York. And we spent bus fare and an hour of our time -”

“You look like hookers! You come here like this!” Pointing to her closed-toe shoes in contrast to our summer fare. “And ‘specting free free free! Go home! Get fuck outa here.”

“What kind of racket are you running?” We pressed. “We just spent bus money and wasted 2 hours of our day to get nothing. Your rep told us it was guaranteed!”

“I fire him! Get fuck outa here.”

We left, yelling profanities back at the scoundrel team, realizing it was all a scam.

Now on to your online messaging and marketing.

I see this a lot:

You have some offering. It’s mediocre at best. (spend a bit more time on these normally) It MAY or MAY NOT actually do what you hope it does, but you get a shiny stand in town and put a guy on it who over promises, wastes my time, and leaves me angry.

Don’t do this!

We are trained to want to buy stuff.

Think about it. You’re probably also just a bit tired of free shit. Because how good can it really be?

You ask yourself if it’s any good, if it carries the weight, if it can do what they promise it does. And if it seems too valuable to be free, it smells scummy.

I learned the hard way by offering something TOO valuable for free for a time.

30 minutes – to anyone who wanted it.

People didn’t take it. Why? Because it was weird. Why would I – someone who has all this experience – offer a free 30 minute session to EVERYONE who wanted it?
Sounds like bullshit, doesn’t it?

Something had to be wrong. That’s how our brains work: Either the 30 minutes would be a sales call or I was full of it and didn’t have the experience I was purporting to have.

It was neither; I really wanted to help people. But it just didn’t translate.

What is your freebie, if you have one?

What are you promising?

I know that sometimes it may seem that you are just like the other guy, and you feel compelled to oversell your stuff, by using crazy extravagant words to describe what you do, and overpromise.

Don’t. People will either not sign up or sign up and then go away. I’ve seen it lots.

How do you know if it’s any good? If it deserves the praise?

It’s hard to tell in sometime because people don’t always let you know. Actually, they rarely do. Sometimes people email you and tell you it’s great. Sometimes they leave a comment when you ask them to. Sometimes they share in on social media.

And often they don’t.

That might be a sign in and of itself. But not always. Some people are painfully shy. Some don;’t think you like/read praise email. Some just don’t care enough to find your email address.

So sometimes the only thing you may know is that you got the marketing message of the freebie copy right (because people sign up). You just have to sit with the content of your giveaway in your own gut.

It’s been over ten years since I got jacked by hotel row in Mexico, but I never want to go to another timeshare meeting again, whether it’s legit or not. It just makes me feel like a chump.

The good ending to the story was that we had a blast at the festival and spent an amazing month traveling in the Yucatan and in Palenque, meeting amazing Mayans who took us to secret places that cars didn’t go to.

(We never did rent that car.)
(And we didn’t dress like prostitutes.)

So what is your freebie language? Is something questionable to you about it?
Let me know below, and I’ll see how I can help.

You are loved.

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