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Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising

Published by
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriting

May 2007
Volume: 22 Number: 5

This "magic word" still has its power

I was walking through our local shopping center and noticed that something out of the ordinary
seemed to be going on at the Ben & Jerry's store.

Instead of the usual handful of customers inside, a long line of customers of all ages snaked out
the door for about thirty yards! What the heck was going on?

I asked a woman what the long line was all about and she answered, "free ice cream."

Sure enough, on the store's window, a big sign announced "Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Cones Between 1-4 pm."

Here's what instantly struck me about the scene . . .

The shopping center is in an affluent area. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that any
of the people on line could have easily afforded an ice cream cone. After all, we're talking
about small change. Yet, here were men, women, and teenagers lining up to get something
they could easily afford, merely because it was free. They simply couldn't resist the offer.
(And the ice cream.)

As a direct response copywriter, I have long known that "FREE" was one of those magic
words that can boost response. I routinely encourage clients who want to generate leads to
make a "free offer," and I use the word in my copywriting work just about every day.

Yet here, right in front of my eyes, was living proof of the awesome power of the free offer.

Why would people pass Ben & Jerry's by on a Wednesday, when they could easily pay for a
cone, but line up for thirty minutes in the hot California sun for a free cone on a Thursday?

The answer is hard to come by. Were those people waiting on line all involved in some kind of
mass regressive return to the maternal breast, where they could be fed, symbolically by an
indulgent, loving mother? Or were they just a bunch of cheap skates?

Hey. I don't have a clue. But I DO know what I saw, and what I saw says that "FREE" still has
the ability to get people moving. Or standing in line.

The takeaway message this month? When you're creating an offer for lead generation, don't
reject the power of offering somebody something for nothing.

"Free" is one four-letter word you can use ANY time!

How To Get In Touch

Ivan Levison
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904

Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Web Site: http://www.levison.com

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