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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Everybody Wants Something for Free

Is it human nature to want stuff for free, or is this something new that’s developed in the last several decades, as we have grown more and more lazy? Bartering used to be common place and rarely did someone expect something for nothing. That’s not to say that there were no “favors” performed for friends or family, but I think the expectation was that every person must earn their keep.

Today, we often find people wanting all kinds of things for free. Free advice, free information, free refills, etc. “Free” can be a great marketing strategy. I enjoy getting free food samples as I roam the isles at Costco. Most of the time I don’t buy what I sample, but in some cases I have. Before downloading music from iTunes, I like to get a free preview of the song before I buy.

On the other hand, sometimes free creates unwarranted expectations. If someone gets something for free often enough they will soon always expect it to be free. Remember when you had to pay for a soda refill at fast food restaurants? Today it’s rare to find a restaurant that won’t give you free soda refills, and if you did find one, chances are you’d probably not go back. That’s just good old fashion greed there! Or is it just the endless pursuit of a good bargain?

This week I found that giving stuff away for free can create less work for myself and eliminate a growing problem.

The first thing we just gave a way was a 3-year old Chow. Great dog, but he started getting aggressive and picking fights with our other dog. The last time it happened my one-year old son was in the back yard and came dangerously close to the mayhem. Like I said, that was the LAST time it happened. We put an ad in the paper a few days later and the dog was given to a good home the very next day.

We also just gave away a bunch of river rock. We are re-landscaping our back yard and had about three yards of rock that we no longer wanted. Shoveling river rock is not real fun (just ask my older kids!) so we decided to put up signs on our street for free rock. That same day, all our rock was removed by a few weary souls willing to shovel rock in the heat of the day and haul it away. All that just to get the rock for free.

So are we lazy, greedy, or just bargain savvy? Whether business or personal, I think “free” can work to everybody’s advantage. Giving stuff away for free can definitely be used to your advantage generating interest, buzz or clicks to your website. It can also serve as a means to provide a “sampler” of your other services, in hopes to entice a future purchase. Used wisely, “free” can be a great source of revenue or increased personal comfort.

That’s your free tip for the day.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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