Free Is Bad
Two Examples of When Free Is Bad
1. Pandora. When Peggy works in our home office, Pandora music plays softly over the speakers. Pandora is free if you listen to it with ads (though there is a paid option—ad free—which is available).
How is free Pandora screwing the songwriters whose works are being broadcast?
In 2012, for example, when Pandora's former chief executive testified at a congressional hearing on music licensing, songwriters protested on Capitol Hill. Five writers of hits by stars like Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera showed that 33 million plays on their songs on Pandora yielded just $587.39 in royalties for them. —Ben Sisario, The New York Times
This is the equivalent of government-approved theft of intellectual property. Songwriters—and all the rest of us should be fairly paid.
2. Chris Christie's Bio. A highly-publicized backgrounder by Alec MacGillis on the delicious George Washington Bridge scandal appeared in The New Republic under the title, Chris Christie's Entire Career Reeks.
I downloaded this massive 8,200-word masterpiece of dogged research and writing into my private archive.
I am not a subscriber to The New Republic.
As a writer, I find this appalling—a spike in the eye to author Alec MacGillis and self-immolation by the magazine's owners.
It is also an insult to the magazine's subscribers who had to pay for this story while the rest of the world gets it free.
In bygone times, the author and magazine would be paid additional money for all distribution of the material beyond these first serial rights.
Quite simply, free is bad.
Takeaways to Consider
- "People love to be sold stuff." —Franklin Watts
- If you have a database of folks who know you and like you, make an offer and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- "It's the offer, stupid." —Bob Hacker
- "If results are flagging, check your offer first." —Bob Hacker
- "If you want to dramatically increase your results, dramatically improve your offer." —Axel Andersson
- Study great e-commerce marketers—e.g., Amazon, Dell, Netflix—and then steal smart.
- "Steal Smart" does not mean be an imitator. It means come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and use the best techniques of these masters to exploit it.
- "Imitation is the sincerest form of collective stupidity." —W. Carroll (Bill) Munro
- Use "FREE!" to show a little cleavage. For example:
-Take the first issue FREE.
-Take Volume I FREE.
-Try it for 6 weeks FREE.
-Stop by and take a FREE test drive.
-Take a FREE book for every 4 you buy.
-Buy just $29 worth of wrinkle cream and take this traveling designer bag of perfumes and lipsticks—worth $77.20—as your FREE GIFT.
-Lose the first 5 pounds FREE.
- Charge for the full Monty.
- Always test first.
- "Two rules and two rules only exist in direct marketing. Rule No. 1: Test everything. Rule No. 2: See Rule No. 1." —Malcolm Decker