Customer development · Customer engagement

Is is valuable to give product free of cost for the first time ?

Mayur Dusane Founder, Forserene Technologies Private Limited

October 23rd, 2018

We have product related to Real Estate Business Marketing. People suggest me that give product free for the first time. Is it really valuable to give product for free ?

Alexandre Azevedo Founder of The Traction Stage Blog & Podcast

October 23rd, 2018

Hi, Mayur! Nice to e-meet you.

Before doing that, I would recommend you to further analyze the reasons behind your customers' unwillingness to pay. You may find that:

  • You were not able to properly communicate your product's value to your customers;
  • Your product's price is too high for the value it brings to your customers, when compared with alternatives in the market (that are cheaper or even free);

With a better notion on that, you might be more confident on which strategy you should use to reduce FRICTION in customer activation process. Some strategies might include:

  • Set a free version (with limited features or limited usage of your product) and then charge for additional features, capacity, usage, etc (FREEMIUM)
  • Set a trial period (as previously mentioned by @Kingsley). After this period, people would decide buying it or not.
  • Set the product as Free (by redesigning your monetization strategy (e.g., money coming from advertisers)

I wish success!


Simon Burfield Father, CTO, Head of Mobile and robotics builder

October 23rd, 2018

I listen to a startup podcast and one thing they say is if you give away your product, people won’t value it as they invested nothing in to it. If someone buys it, they usually will action that buy

Kingsley Asifor Software Engineer - Product Developer, Coach, Speaker, Writer, Project manager.

October 23rd, 2018

Not necessarily, but you could give a 3 - 20 days trail to the user. Then at the end of trail period, user will make payment if satisfied with the service/product. I've done this for a client before. It's sure one of the best ways to make the users stay, you let them in for free, then make them pay to continue.

Matthew Mansour Technical CoFounder

Last updated on October 23rd, 2018

It depends on the business model. One business model is to use your product as a method to build an audience - an email list, a facebook group, chatbot subscribers, push notification subscribers, etc...

Now you have an audience to sell other products to, either as an affiliate, or as a producer of new products.

A free product can be valuable for the end user and for your business.

Matthew Maier, personal & community health experiments

October 25th, 2018

Well, anything can work if you get lucky, and nearly anything can work if you have unique insight into your particular situation.

The standard guidance is that you should charge for your first version because otherwise you don't know if people are willing to pay for a solution to this problem.

A common failure mode is to build what you want to build, or what you THINK people want to buy, and then take it to the market and eventually find out that you can't sell it for enough money to make the venture profitable. Giving the functionality away for free is postponing that day of reckoning.

The particulars can change the standard guidance. For example, if you legitimately have a new market and a fast growing user base you might pour money into user acquisition and plan to monetize after you've blown any possible competition out of the market. But, even in that case, you probably aren't literally giving everything away for free. You might be working with advertisers behind the scenes to confirm that they will pay to access your audience.

You can adjust what you mean by "free product". Like you can offer a free trial, or a 100% money back guarantee, to help customers get started.

The bigger picture is that if you find yourself in this situation you probably don't understand your situation or aren't acting on that understanding. For example, if you are selling an expensive product to rich people or businesses they are going to want to see evidence of your own skin in the game and follow through. How much time, energy, and money have you already invested? What have you gotten for that investment? If you can't show them much because you don't believe in your own idea, why should they? If you can't show them much because you haven't achieved much, why would that change after you have their money? If you can't show them much because you don't have much so you haven't been able to get started, how are you going to handle the business if things get tight?

Consumers don't tend to ask those questions, but they also don't spend as much money.

If your "customers" are saying they'll try your product, but only if they get if for free, they aren't the sort of customers you want to have.

Wes Zimmerman Our Experience helps you reach your goals.

October 28th, 2018

It depends, I usually say NO, You need trusted trial users, that you actually listen to when they are not impressed. too often we hear what we want to hear, this is not the time.