The power of free

dan-snapshotDan Ariely wrote about the power of the free:

The results indicate that the power of “free” is surprisingly influential.  When we face a decision about a tattoo, one would hope that the long term permanency of the decision, coupled with the risks of getting different types of infections would cause people to pay little attention to price, and certainly not to be swayed one way or another by the power of free.  But sadly, the reality (at list in the nightclub scene in New York) suggests that the power of free can get us to make many foolish decisions. (source)

So, for one, the free makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. But, after you get something which has some value to you for free, you may also get another feeling – grateful, thankful, obliged even. I want to talk about this matter.

Let’s say you have a commercial-intent web site. You sell some products, you deliver stuff for which you get paid (online store).

A typical idea would be to make the web site as professional, get-to-the-point, let’s-get-to-business as you can do. Visit the web site, see the products, order, pay, get them, provide support if necessary. That’s it. Make this process as smooth and as pleasant as possible.

SethGodinSeth Godin says it differently:

What industrialists do: They dehumanize what they make, so it is the brand and the organization and the factory that is known and trusted, not the person on the line.
The only alternative is to humanize our work. To create something that only you could have made, or said, or conceived of.  (source)

What are my suggestions?

  • Be human. Don’t be a company, be that company, with that owner, and that team. Humanize it, as Seth puts it. How to do so?
    • Put emphasis on the about us page. Personalize things.
    • Be social. Use social networks. Connect with people. Don’t be a stranger.
    • When you make the product page, you can consider having different descriptions than the competition has. Make them more personal, make them live.
  • Offer things for free, in addition to the products you sell:
    • A blog on which people can get more information.
    • A newsletter with additional details.
    • Offer more information about the products you sell, than the customer usually expects. Put online videos (you don’t have to create them, just use other people’s videos, if they are available on YouTube, for example), put links, put information which generally isn’t there in the product page.

Both of the above main categories are free. It’s free to speak of yourself, it’s free to offer extra things. But:

  • It takes courage to let yourself out, to allow others to see the true you, to put yourself out there. Courage gets appreciated, generally.
  • It’s a cost for you to write things – being part of social network, blogging, writing newsletters, providing extra information aobut the product – they all take time.

Why do so? For two reasons:

  • Most of the things listed above are natural things to do. They help you grow organically, they put you as a part of a community, they help you do good in this world. It’s natural and it’s fine.
  • Clients will feel as part of something, and they will probably buy more & more often from you. With you they have a relationship. They are thankful to you for providing them with something free which actually has a value.
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