What can you give away?

This is the most powerful question in this book. You can approach this question in two ways: What is the closest you can come to making something free, without actually pricing it at zero? Or, in a true gesture of enlightened generosity, you can figure out how to part with something very valuable for no monetary return at all. If either strategy is pursued with intelligence, the result will be the same. The network will magnify the value of the gift. But giving something away is not usually easy. It must be the right gift, given in the proper context. To figure out what to give away, consider these questions:

  • Is the freebie more than a silly premium, like the toy in a cereal box? There is no power in the gift unless it is crucial to your business.
  • What virtuous circle will this freebie circulate in? Is it the loop you most need to amplify?
  • In the long run, the unbounded support of a customer is more valuable than a fixed amount of their money. How will you eventually capture the support of customers if there is initially no flow of money?

Every organization harbors at least one creation--or potential creation--that can be liberated into "freedom." This is often an idea with problems, particularly with its price: Should it be $69.50 per minute or $6.50 per box? The answer sometimes is: It should be free. Even if the idea is never actualized, my experience is that the very act of contemplating the free will inevitably illuminate all kinds of beneficial attributes that were never visible before. "Free" has long been a taboo price point. Perhaps because it has been forbidden, many low-hanging fruit are waiting to be plucked by giving the free serious consideration.



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK