When I charge a purchase, I usually pull out my American Express card ratherthan one of the other credit cards in my wallet. That's because I get afrequent-flier mile for every dollar I charge on Amex, and I don't have this onany of my other cards. I've read that a frequent-flier mile is worth less thantwo cents in terms of what it will actually buy. I already have more than250,000 miles unspent, and it gets harder all the time to cash in miles. So whydoes receiving more of them still motivate me to pull out one card instead ofanother? Because it's free.

I also received a free bag of potato chips this week at my regular gasstation because I spent more than $20.00 filling up on $1.39 regular gas. If thegas price had been reduced to $1.34, I wouldn't even have noticed, but the freebag of chips made an impression.

I should also point out that not all free things have as much impact on me. Iseldom value anything that has a company name printed on it - I'm not likely towalk around with a hat or shirt displaying somebody's logo unless it's a companyI have some relationship with. Nor do I drink my coffee from a mug that remindsme to buy something. The freebies that make me feel good are personal thingsthat I can enjoy right now or look forward to enjoying.

Another type of freebie that has high impact on me and most other people iscurrency, or its equivalent. I got an enormous response from a letter campaignin which I included a crisp, new $1 bill in each letter as an advance thanks forresponding to a short questionnaire. A similar technique is to include afirst-class stamp clipped (not glued) to your return envelope so people can justkeep it for their personal use if they want to.

Look for opportunities in your business to give customers and prospectssomething that is totally free - something that is fun, personal, tastes good,or something that has nothing to do with what you sell but which just says,"Thanks for your business," or "Thanks for your time."

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