Monday, 10 August 2009

I Want to be Free!!!

Everything everywhere is FREE! Is this just a marketing gimmick?

As my father would say:
“Free but who pays?”

In the old world of physical product, if something is free then someone will pay in the end. Most FREE offers are actually the old ‘bait and switch’ strategy.

One way or another it is you that will pay for the free product.

In the new world there is a real free – the marginal cost of storing and distributing digital 'product' is negligible so it can be given away for free with no-one paying for it.

My kids can use computers given to them with a phone contract… they use free mobiles (so the operator makes money on minutes sold) and use Google (free) and Skype (free), Wikipedia (free), Flicker (free) and FaceBook (free) to find out about everything they need.

There is an unwritten assumption that you should give things away for free (
"because the competition do..."). Is that right for you? A free healthcheck... a free test drive... a free audit...

For some businesses the "giving it away for free" approach may send out the wrong message.

On the other hand the consumer loves the TBYB (Try Before You Buy) philosophy. Some consumers will feel more likely to buy because of the moral contract created. Some will be free-loaders. It all depends on what you think is the best way to capture the best clients for your business.

Should you be giving anything away at all?

Or should you be giving more away than you are doing at the moment?

Are you clear about what you should be giving away and why?

They just didn't get it

A brief story.

Two delegates approach the presenter and say:

"We've now seen you four times over the past year or so. Each time you've done a different topic (More Profit, Bright Marketing, Credit Crunch, a keynote) but really you keep covering the same kind of topics. And you always end up saying 'take action'.

We hear what you are saying and its all good stuff.

When we're ready we'll start to apply it all but meanwhile we're still looking for something new and different instead of listening to you banging on about the same old stuff... taking action, asking for the business, being able to demonstrate how and why you are different, getting closer to the customer blah, blah. And all the books and magazines are no better.

It is time you came up with something new or else we will stop coming to these workshops."

I think they missed the point.

Or rather they forgot where the exit was; you don't have to stay to the end.

1) My 'job' is not to be a presenter/entertainer. (I use whatever methods necessary to get my message across - one method is that I present so that others can listen and take action. Other methods include writing articles/books/blogs, recording webinars/interviews, working one-to-one, doing masterclasses/workshops - any method that seems appropriate to help people to run better businesses.)

2) It was time for them to actually listen to the message and get on and do it. Instead of attending another course they should apply what they have learnt. They just don't need to attend another workshop.

'Training junkies'!!!

It reminds of the Woody Allen story from the Annie Hall movie:
Patient's Brother: "Doctor, Doctor, my brother thinks he is a chicken."

Doctor: "Well, let's get him to a psychiatrist."

Patient's Brother: "No, we can't do that!"

Doctor: "Why not?"

Patient's Brother: "Because we need the eggs!"

Thought Bubble
Are you avoiding taking action over something because you are too committed to maintaining the status quo and are frightened of what the new world might look like?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Business Link, business support and passion

At a recent presentation I was asked, "Have you got it in for the Business Link?".

Actually the answer is "No I have not got it in for the BLs - I want them to do really well, to blow people away with legendary value-adding service".

In principle I think that anything that helps people run better businesses is a good thing.

My concern is that
1) no-one seems to care and
2) there are numerous examples of BL under-delivering in the customer's eyes (and if you even have to think about who the customer is then 'I rest my case'!)

So a quick visit on my recent postings on the subject:

My Solution for Business Support

Business Support - The BS/BIS Industry
Simplifying Business Support - a humbug/cynic's view
Doug Richards Rips into Business Link
The Truth Is... No-One Seems To Care About Business Link

I admit to playing Devil's Advocate and no, this is not BL-bashing, but actually quite the reverse. I have recently been involved in some really first-class and excellent BL projects so I know that BLs can deliver in every sense of the word.

Our businesses deserve the best, most appropriate, most relevant business support that is available ('free' or 'subsidised' or' paid for' is not the point).

Tax payers' money is used to deliver a service that should be blisteringly powerful for individual businesses and the business community. It is a great challenge.