When Free Isn’t Always Free

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 03-06-2007

Get it free, try it free, free seminar, free assessment, free workshop, is all that stuff really free? If it is then why doesn’t everyone take the free stuff? Even though you may think that it’s a great deal, corporate decision makers don’t. They’re not stupid. They know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Anything that is free usually requires one of two things; an investment in time, or a decision that ultimately requires time.

That’s why free isn’t selling these days. People don’t have extra time to waste. Either something is worth doing or it’s not. Free is entirely irrelevant. It is easy to say “get this widget free if you buy so-and-so” but consumers are smart enough to know that the cost of this so called free product is being paid for by someone, somewhere and somehow. The cost is included either in the cost of goods sold or is added back into the cost of the product(s) they are buying. Your parents were wise when they told you early on that there is no free lunch. They knew without a doubt that nothing comes without a cost and time is the one constant we can not put a price on. If you are purchasing products from a company that makes bold claims about all the free stuff you get just for doing business with them ask yourself, how are they paying for this? Also, what is the true value of the free product? If their prices and service are so great then why should they need to give away free products? Giving away free product samples in order to get you to buy the product is one thing but giving away, let’s say a food item, as a freebie for making a purchase seems a little peculiar. Bottom line is where’s the catch? When you stay at a motel and they advertise free internet access is it really free? Of course not! It is included in the price of your room rate so whether you use the internet or not you are forced to pay for it in the cost of your room.

Consider also the quality of the services and support you get from the company. Great customer service carries a much higher value just like relationships. You should focus on the business value. Decision makers know that unless it will reduce costs, increase productivity, shorten time-to-revenue or such, the product isn’t really free. Experienced business people also know that the free products cost is hidden either in the true value of the free product or in the price they pay for other products. They understand the business value of the relationship they have with companies and how that value supersedes a can of pretzels or some other gimmick.

Great service, knowledgeable staff, extensive product and/or service offerings is what defines the real value of doing business with a company, not the pretzels.

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