Don't underestimate the power of "free." Because "free" can kill your business if you do it wrong.
True story: (Long - if you want to skip the story and read the point, skip down to where you see BOLD TEXT)
Last month, my wife and I stayed for five days at an expensive resort. Our package included complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres in the resort's exclusive restaurant. We also booked dinner reservations there for two nights.
For perspective: Dinner was $30-$40 per entree, With appetizers, cocktails etc. we'd easily drop over $300 there. More if we decided to book a third evening.
On our first day, we headed to the restaurant for the wine and hors d'oeuvres. We didn't have a dinner reservation that night, but figured we'd sample the goods. The place was beautiful, but practically empty.
Soon we found out why.
The free wine was ok. The complimentary "hors d'oeuvres" on the other hand...oh my. We received a sad-looking platter consisting of:
--two small slices of limp, room temperature "gourmet pizza"
--six pretzel rods.
--a teacup-sized bowl of plain potato chips.
Nothing to dip the pretzels in. No bleu cheese crumbled over the chips. Not even a fruit garnish. At a sports bar I'd be ok with it. But here??? Unacceptable.
(Side note: If the hotel had called them "free bar snacks" instead of "complimentary hors d'oeuvres" we probably would have gone in with lower expectations and been less disappointed. There's a copywriting lesson in there if you look for it.)
When the server was gone we just started laughing. We drank our wine and left. I promptly cancelled both dinner reservations we'd made: No way I was going to pay $40 for a steak when they couldn't even get hors d'oevres right. Another restaurant got my money.
So, for your business...
If your list isn't converting, think about the quality of your freebie. Do you think potential customers won't expect much when they get something for free? Or that they'll overlook low quality just because they didn't pay for it?
What you give people for free becomes the standard they use to predict the quality and value of your paid offerings.
Don't slap together a "report" that's really just fluff written at a 4th grade level. Don't give a "consultation" that is vague, provides nothing actionable and is not delivered with professionalism. If you do, it will be the most expensive "freebie" you ever gave.