The bad news about free…


I’ve been wondering if I should charge for my blog posts. Up to know they’ve been free for anyone to come and read them. But the bad news about ‘free’ is that people may not take you seriously.


I’ve paid so I want the value

When people pay for something, they expect – no demand – value for money. And they will consume because they have paid.

“I’ve paid £10 for this buffet, I’m gonna eat my £10’s worth”

The difference in attendance levels between people booking on a paid event verses a free event is huge. Eventbrite ran a test putting on the same webinar once as a free event, the second time charging $5. Attendance rates were 38% and 69% respectively. Almost double despite the content being the same.


The two key factors

There are two key factors in play here.

The first is the loss of money. If you pay for something but don’t then consume it, you’ve wasted or lost that money. In the Eventbrite situation the potential ‘loss’ of $5 induced 31% more people to attend. They didn’t want to ‘lose’ the $5.

31% still didn’t. Attend despite paying $5. The reason for that was probably the real cost of attending – the opportunity cost. I doubt anyone attending the webinar charges or values their time at $5 or even $10 per hour. So the real decision was between what value would be obtained from attending verses what else you could be doing with that time.

The second factor is perceived value. There are lots of free webinars. Most have a sales pitch at the end. Some are pretty much sales pitches throughout. So there is a perception that a free webinar may have one or two interesting nuggets before they pitch to you.

A lot of people will sign up with the intention of getting the nuggets but then not bother because something better came up. The content just wasn’t compelling enough.

But when you charge $5 you must be delivering something of value. That is what goes through the mind of the attendee. You can even pitch the webinar as delivering value. For example, you might say:

“We are going to be showing you 5 key strategies on the webinar. To make sure You can book a place we are charging $5 to put off the freebie hunters and tyre kickers”

You’re not a freebie hunter or tyre kicker, are you? So you’ll pay $5 and be 31% more likely to turn up.


Free giveaways

A similar situation occurs with the free stuff on your website. These are the lead magnets you offer to entice people to sign up to your list. A lot of people will sign up, download the content then do one of two things:

  1. Unsubscribe immediately.
  2. Save it to a folder somewhere never to be seen or read.

Few will actually read it or use it as you intended.

Much of this is driven by FOMO – fear of missing out. I must get that download in case there is something I should know about in there. The intentions are good, but the implementation is poor.

One way to counter this is to ensure you have a follow-up sequence to engage the people that download your free stuff. Ask them about – have they used it. Did they follow the advice? Did they implement? It’s a great way to identify those that are engaged rather than the information accumulators.


Is cheap or any better?

So free doesn’t work too well. How about cheap? As we saw with the webinar example, 31% who paid still failed to turn up. That occurs when people don’t understand the value of what you are offering. And if you price something too cheaply, there is a danger people will think there isn’t enough value in the product. If it’s so cheap it can’t really be worth anything.



The way to overcome this is by positioning the product or service properly. That entails demonstrating the real, tangible benefits that the customer will receive. Testimonials and recommendations are crucial here. They add that third party endorsement which is a hundred times more powerful than anything you can say about your products.

Of course, you could always just put the price up. Now there’s a novel idea.

3 big myths about the internet

DILBERT © 2016 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights
reserved.” Below the image for me to comply with my usage rights.


The internet is a fantastic resource. But as with any fantastic resource, you have to know how to use it properly – and I don’t mean which buttons to click or how to use Boolean logic in search terms. I mean how to treat everything you read and find on the internet with a degree of caution.

You see there are 3 big myths about the internet that everyone forgets at least once in a while. And these myths can be very expensive. Expensive in terms of the amount of time wasted (just look at the Dilbert cartoon in the feature image), penalties, fines and law suits, and in poor decision making.


Myth no.1

If it’s on the internet it must be true – so said American president Abraham Lincoln in a Facebook post.

Yeah, right! Too many people would believe it though. I don’t mean the obviously stupid “truths” like the won I just “quoted”, but many millions of little and not so little things, and often because they’ve seen it repeated a few times. Well, sorry to burst you bubble, that isn’t true. And just because 10 or 100 or even 1000 people on the internet say something is true, that doesn’t mean it is. Marketers often talk about getting social proof like getting your tweets retweeted or you Facebook posts like. That doesn’t make them any more true than when they were written. 100 people believing a lie does not make it true.

So do your due diligence. Check that your “facts” really are facts. Look for authoritative sources to validate your findings.


Myth no.2

If it’s on the internet it’s free. Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t;’t mean it is yours to use freely. And the internet is public domain. The number of people that copy images from the internet to use in their bl;of posts, in their presentations, in their brochures, is huge. The risks that they run in doing so are huge.

All images are owned by the person or company that created them and you can only use the image with their permission. And that often comes with a cost. It’s usually a small cost – often just $1. There are some places which offer use of images a genuinely zero cost. But if there is a cost, be sure to pay it because if you use an image without permission then it could cost you a whole lot more. At least one image supplier regularly monitors the use of its images on the internet and if the appropriate licence fee has not been paid the offending company or individual will get a demand from the image owner’s lawyer demanding the image is taken down and no longer used and a large penalty paid (several thousands of pounds) or else court proceedings will be started.

If you have I used an image illegally you will lose. The fine/penalty imposed by the court may be less than that demanded in the lawyers letter but don’t forget to factor in the amount of your time and that of your team, not mention legal fees etc etc and you can see how the costs will mount up.

Play by the rule – saying sorry after the event just doesn’t cut in this situation.


Myth no.3

Free training on the internet can save you money on paid training. This is the example in the Dilbert cartoon featured image (which I have paid a licence fee to use by the way).

This myth isn’t as clear cut as the first two as in the longer term, if you find a really good source of high quality free training in the area you need it, then you can save money. The problem comes about from trawling through all the dud courses before you find the gems. You might get lucky and find the gem quickly, but then again, you might not. You might use the gem supplier many times so, on average, the wasted time is relatively low. But most training in small to medium size businesses is specialist in nature and used for only a few people at most so this is unlikely to be the case.

At the end of the day, what else could you be spending your time on to drive your business forward than wasting it trying hard to find free training to save a few pounds. Implementing the lessons from a quality paid course will generate more savings or revenue increases than the cost of the course so spending time to avoid the cost of the course is just a waste.

How do you avoid wasting time finding a good quality course though? Couldn’t that be as wasteful and looking for the free ones? Yes it could and that leads nicely into how to overcome these myths.


Myth busting

Before the internet we used to use recommendations to find potential suppliers. We’d go to trusted and renowned publications and books for information. We’d meet people and get to know, like and trust them – before we bought.

Well today, we do the same thing but faster – because everything is faster with the internet – right? Well, perhaps not. We are always being pushed to be faster but maybe

We should just slow down a little and be a little more discerning about the sources we use and who we trust. Yes the internet has extended our reach but we still need to do the appropriate due diligence.

We need to build trusted networks of contacts and advisers that we can rely on to sort out the wheat from the chaff. To find those gems without the painstaking and time consuming trawling through the search engines. Where is the best place to start for businesses?



Yes, LinkedIn is the trusted source that can overcome many of the myths of the internet. Providing you do your due diligence on your network and recognise who you can rely on, it can help with identifying the right sources of information, the right suppliers, the right training courses.

Why is LinkedIn so good for this? Because the best people engage poactively on LinkedIn sharing their knowledge and experience freely. If they are wrong or are trying to scam people, the collective community challenge them, out them and they go quiet or get removed.

Recommendations on LinkedIn provide a strong guide to the quality, reliability and efficacy of the people you engage with. These recommendations cannot be faked – they have to be written by other LinkedIn members. And if you see recommendations for someone from people you know like and trust, they carry a huge weight.

So LinkedIn is the place to find those trustworthy resources. And by extension, if you want to be seen as a trustworthy source, whether of knowledge, advice, services or products, you need to have a powerful personal profile. That’s what I help my clients achieve – just check out my recommendations and then check out my LinkedIn Business Advantage Programme. Take your credibility to a higher level today. Click the link or the image below.




Tiny Noticeable Things

TNT – Tiny Noticeable Things

Have you noticed that when you experience good service it’s often the little things that you remember? The chocolate on the pillow, the bottle of water by the bed, fresh milk in a flask instead of those irritating little UHT pots. Little things that don’t cost a lot but make all the difference.

That’s not to say that a few little extras can compensate for poor quality or bad service. You must absolutely deliver fantastic products and services because that is what your clients expect from you. But to keep them coming back rather than trying somebody else’s products or services that might be just that little bit cheaper is where those Tiny Noticeable Things come in.

A friend had to get his Mercedes serviced. It was outside of the warranty period so he wasn’t bound to use Mercedes and he could probably have shaved a few pounds off the bill. But the Mercedes garage always greeted him by name, had the paperwork all ready for his arrival, provided a courtesy car or lift to the station, returned the car fully valeted and provided telephone updates throughout the day.Tiny Noticeable Things that made the whole experience much less painful when it was time to get the credit card out.

That whole experience started with the booking in. Will it be you bringing the car to the garage sir? That’s the booking clerk checking who the security guard at the gate would welcome when the car arrives. So when’s the security guard checks the registration number of the car approaching the gate he knows it’s almost certainly Mr Smith behind the wheel. And if it turns out not to be Mr Smith, there’s an opportunity to ask if Mr Smith is ok and whether they should still contact him with updates during the day.

It’s all about creating that first impression. I’ve heard it suggested you should rename your receptionist or whoever has the first contact with clients to the Director of First Impressions – it can make that much of a difference. How much nicer is it to be warmly welcomed as an expected and valued client than with a polite can I take your name and who are you seeing? The effort required – minimal. Effect – priceless.

When was the last time you looked at all those little details in your business? I’ll bet there are lots of Tiny Noticeable Things you could do to wow your clients. It may be a little thank you card for their recent order. Perhaps a little box of chocolates to go with the course materials you sent out. Any number of little differentiators that your competitors just can’t be bothered with.

Putting some TNT into your business could have explosive results. Let me know what ideas you come up with and which ones have the biggest impact. You’ll soon know because your clients will start telling you about them.

The art of making the selling easy

Here’s the scenario:

You’ve been invited along to present to a room packed with your ideal clients. You spend 45 mins wowing them and at the end, they rush to the back of the room forming a slightly disorderly queue as your team takes their orders.

Wouldn’t that be great? But how do you achieve it? How do you get the invite in the first place? And then what do you have to do to get that reaction? How do you go about making the selling easy?

It all starts long before the meeting. There are two pre-requisites and one key skill.

The pre-requisites

First and foremost you must have an MVP. Without an MVP you have nothing.

What is an MVP?

At its most basic level, an MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. You have to have something worthwhile to sell. But to really make the selling easy your MVP needs to be that Most Valuable Product – the product that everyone needs and wants. The product that is going to address the second pre-requisite.

The second pre-requisite is your customers need or want. Your product or service has to take away their pain, fix their burning problem or satiate their deepest desire. In other words, they’ve really got to want it.

So you have a great product or service that addresses a real need or desire.

That’s game over surely?

I’m afraid not. The need or the desire will be very real, but how does the customer know your product or service is the answer. How do they know you’re up to the job?

That’s where the skill comes in

The skill

The skill comes into play from the outset. Right from the start when you are designing your product or service. From how you let your prospective customers know about your product or service. Let’s consider the Dilbert cartoon below for a moment.

Dilbert positioning

Wally has spent years being useless. He is well practiced and proficient at it. So when he replaces himself with a useless ‘chatbot’ nobody can be sure whether it’s him or the ‘chatbot’ sending the email replies. You see, Wally has positioned himself in such a way that the alternative is extremely credible. It even wins grudging admiration from the evil head of Human Resources.

Positioning is the all-important skill.

You need to create your products and services with a clear understanding of how you are going to position them in the market. You also have to plan how you are going to position yourself and your business. You need to build your credibility in your marketplace. You need to become the ‘go to’ for whatever it is you do or sell.

You need that excellent product or service. But then you need to create an army of raving fans. People that love what you do or make. People that are prepared to sing your praises, because one word from them is worth a thousand from you.

How do you do that? With the world’s largest professional networking platform that also happens to be the most underutilised marketing tool available to every business – LinkedIn

The LinkedIn difference.

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a hugely powerful tool for you to demonstrate your credibility and that of your company. LinkedIn’s recommendations amplify that credibility many times over. Remember – one word from a customer is worth a thousand from you.

So LinkedIn should be a part of every businesses strategy whether you sell B2C or B2B. It should be a place where you deliver value to prospects and have that backed up by the recommendations of your clients. And if you are selling to other businesses, really smart companies leverage LinkedIn to find connect and engage with the ideal target customers.

If you want to leverage LinkedIn to position your business, you need the LinkedIn Business Advantage programme. Click on the link or the image to find out more.