Everyone loves free. Free beer, free love, free samples; it gets our attention and it appeals to our desire to nab a bargain and be a winner. Then there’s the “I deserve this!” inner voice that says that while you may not need what’s being given away, you want it because it’s FREE!!!! If you’re in Asia, go to the food section of an up-market department store around lunchtime and feast on the endless array of free samples. I challenge you to walk out of there hungry.
But there’s always a price to pay. Someone, somewhere has you in their sights to convert to you to becoming a paying customer. It’s fair and equitable when you think about it: I give you something; you give me something else in return. As long as everyone is happy enough to accept that, all is fine and dandy.
Free everything has been the cornerstone of the internet’s appeal since its inception. Back in the good old days, or at least the old days, there were finite TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines. The owners of those mainly local mastheads were invariably rich and powerful and had built up their titles over several decades or even centuries.
Today, anyone with an idea and a half decent smartphone can create a massive global audience within six months by pumping out free content.
So what’s the price to be paid due to the relentless consumption of this readily available digital content? For a start traditional content creators like journalists, cameramen and radio announcers have been confronted with diminishing audiences – and jobs – for years.
The other rather subjective price to pay is the quality of the content that’s being produced. While there are 4 billion videos streamed on YouTube PER DAY, approximately 152 million blogs and 75 million monthly podcast listeners, quantity does not necessarily equal quality. With so much ‘noise’ it has never been harder to work out what’s good and what’s not.
This has created an enormous conundrum for those of us looking to promote and differentiate any type of premium/paid product or service: how can we create enough value that people will be willing to pay for it?The answer is simple. It all comes down to a marketing fundamental: identify a market need and fill it. If you fill that need uniquely and in a compelling way, you get rich. Fail to do that and the best you can hope to achieve is to excite people by what they don’t have to pay you for.
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Images: http://www.ethoseducation.com.au/free-ielts-workshops.html; http://nintendo-okie.com/2011/06/22/should-more-companies-use-flexible-pricing/