Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Value of Free Goods

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free."
Ronald Reagan
Today I came across several instances of the value of "Free" at Techdirt.com,  a website offering "insight into news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies ability to innovate and grow."  The site itself is an example of what it preaches. The blog is free, with no registration required, and an interesting daily read. The owner of the site hopes that you'll recognize his analytic skills and hire his company for personalized news and advice.

Google is another example of free (but with a twist). Originally Google hoped you'd be impressed by their free search engine and hire them to provide searches on your company documents and email. Now I wonder if they don't make more money from the ads shown while you google. Also Google's algorithms watch what you search for and what you pick from the list and they use this to improve future searches. So in essence you're doing work for google for free.

Anyhow, the first Techdirt story was about the TED Conference. The annual meetings on Technology, Entertainment and Design used to be by invite only and very secretive with non-disclosures signed by attendees. Only the rich and famous and powerful knew about it. Now you can watch past presentations for free at Ted.com. Instead of weakening the product this has created a HUGE surge in attendance, higher prices for seats, and sister conferences around the world.

The second story is about a Swedish truck company that discovered knock-offs of their trucks being made in China. They knew a lawsuit would be pointless so instead they worked with the Chinese company to help it find a truck design of their own that would sell and not be a knock-off. This is a classic Covey Win-Win story where free advice helped everyone.

Bottom Line

Free samples at stores. A free test drive of a car. A free download of trial software. A small free giveaway can lead to read dollar purchases of something larger.

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