The Cost of Free

Free lunch, Free E-Book, Free Iphone game, Free Healthcare, Free, Free. With a show of hands out there. How many of us like Free Stuff? Of course. Why not? It’s free. But is it really Free? As a business owner I struggle with Free. There are two sides to things that are free. There’s the consumer side – those that receive the free item. Then there’s the business side – the person or business providing the free item. Let’s look at each one. Consider the Free E-book Download. You’re surfing the web for information on using social media for your business when you come to a site. When on the home page a pop up appears that offers you a free e-book download of the top 25 Social Media Secrets for growing your business. You’ve hit the jack pot! The information you wanted all right there for free in an easy book. All you have to do is type in your e-mail address. Is it still free? No. It’s costing you something. Your e-mail address and after that space in your e-mail in box and time for you to read their messages. Next let’s look at free breakfast. I have an employee that just moved to Arizona and opened our 2nd Office Squad location in Meza. She’s a very qualified bookkeeper but she is just starting to learn about marketing for that business. I received a text message from her yesterday. She was excited to share with me that she was invited to a BNI breakfast and the gentleman was even going to buy her breakfast. Now, I’ve been in BNI and LeTip. They are networking or leads groups and they recruit members by inviting them to the weekly meeting and the first time the meal is free. I was also the treasurer at my LeTip group and wrote the check for those “free” meals. Is the meal free? One more example. Free games on your phone. Anybody into those? I am currently hooked on an Iphone game called Bake Escape. You have to match colored cupcakes and when you get three in a row they disappear. There are many different levels and I’m on like level 89. If you’re into these kinds of games, they get a little addicting and that’s exactly what the creators want. Once you’ve mastered a few levels and you’re really doing well in the Bake Escape thing, they have a road block. You can either wait for a certain amount of time, usually a day or so; for the road block to clear OR you can pay .99c and clear it immediately to continue playing? How many of us are going to just pay the 99 cents and continue. We are not the world that waits, right? In this case, the game is free – until it not. Until that suck you in and you’ll gladly pay a little here and there to continue with this game that you’re not addicted to. Is it really free? Don’t even get me started on free healthcare. Let’s just say. Someone, somewhere is paying for it. The lollipop at the doctor’s office, the new toothbrush at the dentist, pens, coffee cups and note pads. What most have in common is a logo and the giver is providing the swag or “loot” in the hope that you’ll remember them when you need their product or service. I think we all love to receive free stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. All I ask is that we remember that it’s really not free. Someone somewhere paid for it and it’s more like a gift.