Friday, September 08, 2006

Hey, Did You Hear? It's Free

I’d like to talk about the word, “Free” for a little bit.  This is one of those words that has a powerful, magnetic property.  The attraction of the word, “Free” crosses all sorts of age and cultural barriers.  For the one thing it means free to do as you please.  In countries where personal freedom is limited or not encouraged the worth of the word, “Free” is great.  How much is it worth to you to be able to speak your mind?  In some countries you can’t do that.  And, if you do speak your mind you’ve just endangered yourself,  your family and your associates.  So, being free to speak your mind is real important.

Another meaning of the word, “Free” is free of charge.  No cost to you.  Even people who have a lot of money like the word free.  Face it, they got a lot of money probably by thinking about it a lot.  And, people on a budget like the word free because they didn’t have to save for whatever they got for free.  So, free in this instance is also important.  And, it’s important for two groups of people.  It’s important to the people who are receiving the free-of-charge product or service and it’s important to the people who are providing the free-of-charge product or service.  Now, it’s interesting, too, to compare something for free to something that cost something.  With the free thing no money exchanged hands.  No barter.  No strings.  No obligations.  No nothing.  It was free.  For the thing that cost something money exchanged hands.  Or there was barter involved, or an obligation incurred.  Something exchanged hands.

What I am proposing is that in both the free and the cost-you-something version there was something of value that exchanged hands.  

In the exchange that involved money, currency exchanged hands.  It was worth it to the person buying the thing or service to shell out money for it.  They got that money by going to work every day.  They earned that money by having the responsibility to hold a job.  They had it as extra income or they’d saved it and the money they paid for the service was a form of energy that went to the person selling the thing.  That person might not have gotten rich from the transaction, but the exchange keeps the ball rolling.  Enough of it and we can meet the payroll or buy the supplies necessary to make some more product…whatever.

In the instance where, “Free” was the operative word the energy exchanged was just as important as that of money exchanging hands.  I believe the word, “Free” has just as much power as, “Money”.  People remember, “Free”.  People will talk about the experience they had where they got something of value for nothing.  That’s the energy.  That’s the exchange.  That they talk about it later on to other people.  And, they spread the word about your company or your services.  Word of mouth is how many people end up getting jobs.  Also, the person getting the free thing is likely to return to your business again to see if you aren’t offering more free things.  Maybe later on you are, but you are also offering something for sale.  Because you didn’t trick them the first time and the free thing you offered was really something of value and not something to embarrass them or make them feel foolish they are likely to feel that they would be in a good position to spend money on your thing that you now have for sale.

It’s just a theory.  Something I was thinking about this morning.

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