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Using a Free Product To Get Paying Customers


Several years ago we were fortunate enough to work on the fledgling version of Hubspot’s website and the user interface for their now ubiquitous Website Grader (see the original redesign below). As is now obvious in hindsight, the idea of creating a free product that was very useful to all Hubspot’s clients, was pure genius. At the time it was an experiment. Like so many other “calculators” and similar free widgets, these devices collect emails and data on prospects. These lead generation mechanisms are extremely useful customer development tool. If you have a high volume consumer or business acquisition requirement we would highly recommend you consider creating something like this.

When we launched Web-o-Matic a few months ago we asked ourselves what our “free lead generating machine” would be. It wasn’t until we hosted our first website makeover event at along with the MIT Enterprise Forum that we realized just how valuable the makeovers would be for us.

Using the knowledge we gained from that event, and the smaller events that followed over the summer, we created the Web-o-Matic Makeover Machine (see the mock-up below). The Makeover Machine encourages businesses to submit their old dusty websites for a quick makeover. Our expert crowd-based design team selects a handful of those submitted websites and gives them a complete redesign. The Makeover Machine generates lots of leads and provides lots of value. Not only do the businesses that submit their websites for a makeover get added to the pool of possible free makeovers but they get to see the other before-and-after examples which helps them see the value of a redesign.

Here are some advantages we have identified in creating our own lead generating machine”

  • Free “website makeover” events and the “deluxe makeover machine” are free ways for our customers to get value from participating. Because of the intrinsic value, bloggers will recommend the events and tool and users will tweet about it, spreading the word. This is a high value and zero cost option for them.
  • It requires a no private information to get going (just a web site URL), and gives back an entertaining and valuable result.
  • It offers an almost immediate way to see improvements that will help their websites and businesses, which leverages customer’s instinct to look good.
  • It builds trust between the customer and Web-o-Matic, by creating a value for the customer. Giver’s gain.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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