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“Stuff their mouths with gold”: the value of freebie marketing

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Drayton Bird lauds the value of offering a good freebie to entice people to your product. He explains why it works and offers a prime example courtesy of successful magazine The Oldie.
“Stuff their mouths with gold”: the value of freebie marketing

What it takes to get people to do what you want.

Years ago, I lived in a penthouse in Harley Street under a false name – part of the rich panoply of disaster that constitutes my life

Harley Street is a street of expensive doctors. I was friends – and still am – with my eminent divorce lawyer, Jeffrey Freeman, who lived nearby.

We used to go shopping together in Soho each Saturday, exchanging notes about our businesses. “Bankruptcy staved off for another week” he replied to my enquiry on one occasion.

Eventually he became senior partner at one of London’s largest firms and I survived too. Despite my slipshod approach to business.

Back then – 50 years ago – I recall him saying doctors were more interested in money than medicine. I responded that doctors say the same thing about lawyers.

* * *

This brings me to the quotation I began with.

There’s been a lot of talk recently because of COVID about how the NHS, compares to the rather more larcenous approach to medicine in the U.S. .

The man who launched the NHS was a Labour minister, Aneurin Bevan. He said the only way he got the doctors to agree to his scheme was indeed to stuff their mouths with gold. [Ed. this applied to private consultants rather than doctors per se.]

That approach doesn’t only work with doctors. If you want to sell anything the key is usually generosity to likely buyers. Generosity so liberal it borders on insanity.

A perfect demonstration is a magazine described as the best in the world by Graydon Carter, the eminent American journalist and publisher.

The magazine in question is The Oldie, directed, as you may guess, at old people. It’s incredibly successful and was started by Richard Ingrams who also launched – when still at school another successful magazine, Private Eye.

If you want to know how The Oldie has been successful, it is an object lesson in how to recruit people. They drown prospects with freebies.

Here’s an email I got from them today, and as you see they are experts at titillating prospects by offering glimpses of what the magazine offers. A sort of literary skirt-lifting.

“Be as generous with your offers as you possibly can” said one of my mentors, Graeme McCorkell. The Oldie deluges prospects with free offers of snippets to read – and people can’t resist.

Years ago Richard Ingrams had offices opposite mine in Newman Street, Soho – a nest of whores in the 18th century, which somehow seemed appropriate to a piece like this about seducing likely customers.

Have a look at a recent email from The Oldie.

oldie drayton bird

It works like a charm if you have the slightest curiosity.

You can see entire extracts from the magazine or snippets from extracts from the magazine. All to get your mouth watering.

You surely already know your best bet is often to give people a free offer or even many. But I have found that attaching a small price and a money-back guarantee works even better.

That’s why Ask Drayton is only $1 for the first month, and I even refund that $1 if you don’t think it was worth every one of those 100 cents.

>> For more Drayton and other leading marketing perspectives, subscribe to the GMA Insights newsletter. <<

Photo by DS stories from Pexels

Drayton Bird
Author: Drayton Bird

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

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