Orangeville, ON (James Doan) I have an enduring peeve. Online services or apps that offer a minimal description of the tool and no price information. Instead, you’re invited to download something or sign up and try it for 10 days or a month. You then decide whether you want to keep it.

But I’m cautious, protective of my energy and time. I don’t want to download or try something without an obvious idea of what it can do. I need to know how it works and what it will cost after the trial. This marketing strategy always fails with me.

The “What do they have to lose when it costs them nothing?” rationale fails in other cases, too. A free trial may involve user effort, a risk of wasted time and a possibility of disappointment. If you regard such an offer as a “fool proof,” you are fooling yourself.

You may need to work as hard to sell a no-cost item as something costing lots. Be ultra-clear about the benefits of a free offer. Explain who it’s for and why the user will be happy for having chosen it.

People planning their information empire should avoid a poor choice of giveaway item. They can’t build their list with something aimed at the wrong audience or failing to highlight a motivating theme.