Today I was driving to lunch and saw a ton of commotion outside of a small office building on a main drag through town. At first I thought it was a fire drill but as I rubbernecked I realized it was a dental office offering free dental exams and cleanings for the first 200 people. The banner said, "Huckabee Dental has Heart." The line was out the door and into the parking lot.
Another friend of mine owns a dance studio/gymnasium and offers a Parents Night Out on Valentines Day. She calls it "Bring a Friend Night" and it's 2 kids for the price of one. Couples can drop of the kids, catch dinner and a movie and pick up tired kids who have had a blast.
Offering something for free is a great way to get prospects in the door. I recommend it when you are growing your business. The free offering doesn't necessarily have to be a product - it can just be your knowledge.
And notice how both businesses above had an excuse for the free offering. The excuse being Valentines Day. You wouldn't normally think of going to the dentist on Valentines Day - but it worked for the dental office. For more ideas, see another blog posting I wrote last year on creative sales excuses.