sly : marketing

Free vs Paid

Free is great. But, if you really want someone to stay focused, you’ll want them to pay.

Ask yourself, why do you want to give away something? I can think of several reasons:

– You are generous
– You want someone specific to have it
– You want it to be available for everyone (equality)

On the other hand, if you give it away, people might not think of it as valuable. They’ll want it because it’s free, not for the value it represents.

Focus is attached to money (and/or energy). When the transaction of money is finished, the person will be more interested in what he just bought. It’s not necessary true that the more money he spend, the more focus he’ll have on the new “thing”. It’s not always like this, but more often than not. But, there has to be some cost involved for the person to want it and stay focused.

I enjoy free; both my books Lizarraga and Fuzzy are free (and they still are). But, even though free is great, many times the paid option is better.

The best alternative might be either selling it for $1, giving it for free for a limited time, or giving a specific amount away for free. This way, some people will get it for free, but not all. They’ll understand that it’s valuable (and that it has a price, but that they’ll get it for free because they are early adapters). Paying $1 will force them to think before they act, even though it’s still a small amount.

9 responses to “Free vs Paid”

  1. tom&jerry says:

    Paid means need money, Free means no need money.

  2. Well. the free vs paid argument depends on your goals. I have a permafreebook on Amazon and the primary goal of it is to drive subscribers to my email list. I use a type a content upgrade throughout the book and have a dedicated landing page for it. It works like a charm.

    • Yes, you’re right Daniel. It depends on your goals. If you’re looking for a subscriber, then free works great. It’s not always like this, I want to point this out, but when we pay for something we’re usually more dedicated (because of the transaction cost).

  3. Arsh says:

    Hi Jens,

    Interesting but I think it really depends on circumstances, context, what you want to achieve, if your end goal is money then surely you don’t need to give things for free but if your end goal is not money but something else like brand awareness, customer satisfaction, driving more traffic etc then in that case you need to give it for free.

    For instance I have been making high quality pictures, pictures Business Marketing bloggers might use in their articles and so I made like 200 plus pictures on keywords like innovation, marketing, small business etc and gave them for free…

    My end goal is more traffic plus some healthy backlinks and I am seeing results now… so I think it really depends on the immediate end goal … not the long term end which is obviously money in majority cases!

    • Hi Arshad

      I agree. And you have some really good examples.

      What I was thinking about when I wrote this article was more about the customer. And that as people we are usually more dedicated if there are (high) transaction costs involved in getting what we want. This means that we are more likely to think about «the buying decision» before we actually buy, and that since we’ve used our money we’ll be spending more time on what we bought as well.

      What’s your thought on this? Are we more likely be interested as a customer if we spend money?

      • Arshad says:

        Hi Jens, Money is something that we all hold dear and so when it comes to spending, we most of the time really consider esp. if the cost involves are High like buying a house or a car, in that case customer would be more involved then buying a pair of shoes or an ice cream.

        So customer involvement differs in terms of cost involve, other thing that increases customer involvement is buying something that completely fulfills the purpose but customer doesn’t have much idea about the brand aka the perceived brand value is low or non existent or the knowledge about brand is little to none.

        Third example of customer involvement could be making your customer feel special, that makes them take more interest in your offer because they feel that it won’t be good if they just skip on you after you made them feel special…you getting that one right ?

        Fourth situation of increase involvement could be when customer have high perceived risks, so he/she takes a lot of information before going for purchase, this one in my opinion the second biggest reason of high involvement after high involvement due to cost.

        These are few reasons for high involvement, there could be more, if you really want to know more about it, you should do search on my weblog, I have put a nice article on it, just type “Involvement” there in search box.

        Any questions, suggestions, thoughts on this, are welcome!

        Have a nice day! 🙂 lastly sorry for any typo’s in advance!

  4. Peter says:

    People always go for free even if they have knowledge that they have to pay in future :p

  5. Alvin Wolff says:

    Short, sweet and to the point. Love it! If you offer a valuable service you will always get paid, in some way, in the long run.


  6. Interesting questions.

    I read in one of those popular economics of everyday life type books, that social duty is a stronger motivator than money. And this can certainly work in some situations.

    But on the other hand, as you say, there can be benefits to selling something instead of giving it away for free. I tried giving away some internet-marketing guides, but I found that the relationships with readers were much better when I sold the same content at a very reasonable price, and I got more readers too (as well as some profit).

    So, as with many things, different approaches can work, in different situations, and sometimes even in similar ones 🙂

    thanks for a thought-provoking post !


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter | +