Friday 29 July 2011

Not all the best things in life are free

The explosion that is social media has led to many believing in the old adage, the best things in life are free. I don’t buy it for a second, if you will pardon my pun!

People will always pay for what they perceive is valuable.

Most things that are free on the internet are a marketing strategy to get us to buy something, eventually. Nothing wrong with this. I think it is a good thing to have to demonstrate value before expecting people to pay.

The challenge is, many folk expect everything for free.

Sure some great things in life are free. Most things of value however require an investment of time, energy, or money, and often all three.

The next time you take advantage of something for free on the internet give some thought to how much it cost the providers.

I am finding myself downloading less and less stuff because firstly I don’t really need it, and secondly I am wanting to do my bit to support people who are providing their hard earned, valuable stuff for free, and so I generally only take free if I think I can spread the word for folk, or I think that at some time in the future I will pay for future value.

I think the whole world of free has a rude awakening coming. I am not saying free doesn’t have its place, it does. I am saying that many of the good things in life require an investment of some kind to be made.

I would be very interested in your thoughts. Please email me at

If what you sell in your business is a commodity someone will eventually sell it at a cheaper price. I’d suggest changing your business. The next time you purchase something from a supermarket, give some thought to the people in the supply chain getting screwed to provide what they do for almost free. This will eventually happen to you.

The future of business has much to do with providing what people in a niche market want and that they are prepared to pay for.

What niche market/s are you serving? You may have to provide something for free to people in your niche/s to attract them. Don’t fall for the trap of giving away too much, rather give what you need to do to demonstrate value.

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Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

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Roberta KISTS said...

And today even clean water and air are no longer free.
The other day I read that Spam filters have changed the way they view free. For a while if you had free in your subject line, it went straight to the Spam filter. Now free can get through the filters.
People want a bargain but when you devalue yourself, then so will others.

Liz Blake said...

I totally agree, Ian. 'Free' is an attention getter so you can demonstrate value - which has a valid place (our discussion here with its inherent value is free).

My success in my sales business was based on working with people's motivation and performance, and I quicky learned free was not valued and often counter-productive. And the times I let people get away with getting things for free, it cost me in other ways that I would not repeat.

Having said that, I download a few free items and participate in a few free events I really like with the intention of sharing, as I also like to support those who've done the hard lessons and put in the investment, worth promoting to others. Which makes it more a value-exchange. Gihan's internet webinars are one of those - he is the best I've heard in that field.

I am glad to hear you comment on this. I have also been thinking about the tsunami web marketing building. Look at the discount market: "How much and how far can you discount? Can you out-discount China?"...which brings the question how much are we prepared to de-value humans or not support Australian business, so we can discount deeper?"

Tools are wonderful but beware of the vicious circle of easy, cheap shortcuts.