Free Comic Book Day – How to Make Money From ‘Free’

  • The public, for probably the only time of the year, get their hands on some free comics.
  • The strategy attracts people into comic stores who may never have set foot there before. The retailer then has the chance to turn them into regular customers, by offering goods at special offer, by prominently displaying their most popular titles, and by helpfully answering any questions they may have, or offering recommendations based on their preferences.
  • The publishers get a greater exposure for the titles being offered for free, which should then increase ongoing sales.

Here are some other strategies where the concept of ‘free’ is being used to sell goods:

  1. Watch a TV series for free – buy the DVD box set.
  2. Listen to music on the radio or a music TV channel – purchase the CD or download.
  3. Limited 14-day or 30-day ‘free trial’ to online gaming platforms – pay for access after this date (or forget to cancel after the trial offer ends).
  4. Download a free phone app/game with limited features – upgrade to the premium version to access additional features or levels.
  5. Access certain titles for free from a digital comic store (often the first part of a saga). Pay to download the rest of the story.

There are also ‘Buy one get one free’ offers, but this is just another way of saying ‘Buy two items and get them for half-price’ so is not strictly a ‘free’ offer like the ones above, even though it is presented as such. In the numbered examples above you are truly getting ‘something for nothing’.

How ‘Free’ Can Sell

These are often known as ‘taster’ offers. How many times have you tasted one spoon of ice-cream, or one chocolate from a box, but then wanted more? Sometimes it’s almost impossible NOT to have more after that initial taste.

This is the emotion that ‘free’ offers are trying to generate in the customer, and this is an especially powerful tool when the retailer is trying to sell a brand new product or technology.

The ‘free’ offer is a great way of introducing potential customers to that new product, and gives the retailer a chance to teach them about the benefits of it. If the freebie is good enough (and by ‘good’, I mean that it generates emotions such as excitement, trust or temporary satisfaction in the customer), they won’t even need to be persuaded to pay for the product.

Of course, the strategy of ‘free’ is never 100% effective. A large proportion of the people who take away free comics today will not return to their local comic stores until 365 days time.


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