Saturday, February 6, 2010
WHEN IS FREE NOT FREE?
In the olden days if one mentioned FREE in a classified ad, or in a magazine, and so on, the response was often large and somewhat predictable. This isn't, in my experience, true anymore. Yes, it may be true for neophytes, but not in general.
Yesterday I sent out an offer for a FREE mini-subscription (3 issues) to 350 people on my cultivated email list about The Chess Reports. All you had to do was tell me you wanted it and provide your name (in general I already have your name when I send the announcement, but occasionally I get queries with no name--and they want me to respond??) (Plug: If you are new to me, send me a request and I will send you three free copies as they are issued.)
There is no money expenditure, no first born child wanted, no ransom note... just 30 seconds of your time. So far I've gotten 13 responses within a 18 hour period. I'll add a few more between now and Valentine's Day (the cut off). Let's say, and be generous, 7 more. That's 20, or a little over a half-percent return... and this message went to CHESS people!! This was a free offer. I made nothing from this with but one exception.
Gary Barker subscribed at the $19.95 rate for the whole semester (which usually costs $50). Thanks Gary. Gary is one of those valuable customers who comes to my Chess Clinics.
Sure, I am trying to get new subscribers and therefore, in the end, some buyers for my wares, but this really was a free offer, no "strings attached" (that brought some out as they duly mentioned that message when replying).
To me that means one of two things:
1) Some people are afraid they might get hooked and actually spend money.
2) They already have no time in their life as it is and this would be one more thing to take away what little time they do have.
The problem is: waste. We all waste time somewhere. To wit: last night I had a dinner engagement with an acquaintance at 6 p.m. He never showed though he left a message which did not show on my phone. What happened? My guess is that when he made this dinner offer he thought there would be no "problems." Rather than crying in the beer I do not drink, I ordered lemon-peppered catfish, ate it, paid for it, and went home. Did I waste two hours? In terms of my original goal I did. In terms of having the time back to work on some cash-raising projects I also did. In terms of doing something for myself and finding out about a new, and great, restaurant, I didn't. Find the silver-lining.
I'm still learning and I'm still not standing still.
Sometimes FREE really is free. Don't be afraid to get your feet wet; where else are your surprises going to come from?