This is Part 2 in a series. In the last post we discussed a woman who wanted to provide a collection of free information. She had the option of giving or selling the information to active companies in her market who would provide both content and service. She refused because she was adamant that it should be given away rather than sold.
Readers Weigh In
Brad Shorr noted: “One of the beauties of the free market system is that people are free – free to give things away or charge for them, if they can. What is wrong is to condemn the whole idea of profits.” Meryl K. Evans agreed and pointed out that giving it away for free “could lead to an unfair situation if someone else takes advantage.” Sherwood MacRae cut to the heart of it asking, “Could it be that the attitude she appears to have is the reason she has not accomplished her objective?”
Capitalism – economic system in which individuals and firms are relatively free to compete with others for their own economic gain
Free is a Price
As many of you noted the beauty of a free market system is we are free to set a price, even if that price is zero. As much as Mrs. Teague protested capitalism she was an active participant. She was not running a business and had no desire to profit from her offering. There is nothing wrong with that at all. She was however, wrong in her judgment of other businesses that chose to exchange similar information for fee.
Putting economic theories aside I focused on helping Mrs. Teague achieve her objective. The price point did not change the need to cover the basics of service, sales, and marketing. We had a product and a price and now had to work within her defined budget to get it to market.
An early idea was to give the content to the local library. The library was honored but could not accept it as they did not have the staff or resources to manage the information. Determined to move forward, Mrs. Teague decided to create her own website to host and distribute the information to visitors.
With a limited budget, the next step was determining the best and highest use of her dollars. It was essential that site visitors had the ability to search by term or alphabetically. The search results would link them to the appropriate PDF which they could then download immediately. Usability was essential, and therefore the highest budget priority was the site and site functionality.
She wanted to hire a copywriter to write the site content. However, I advised her to write it on her own. She would only need a short intro text instructing users how to search and what was available. There would be no call to action, contact forms, opt-ins or need to develop an ongoing relationship with the visitor. She could gain inspiration from similar sites.
As of this writing, Mrs. Teague is working with a highly experienced web design company to get her new site up and running.
Free is a choice but one that comes with the same responsibilities of a higher price point. In other words, whether fee or free, it’s still business as usual.
Once we stripped away the emotion around fee or free, we were able to focus on executing on Mrs. Teague’s vision. Her problem was easily solved, but it’s not so easy for other business owners. Tune in for the last installment in this series as we take a look at the emotion of money.
Are you surprised that Mrs. Teague proceeded with her plan? What advice do you have for others considering if and what to charge? Please share your thoughts in the comments.