Free is one of the words to use if you want to stop people in their tracks. It’s attention-grabbing. Who wouldn’t want something for "FREE"? Especially when money is so short & tight.
I remember reading somewhere that there were 5 or 7 words you should use to capture an audience. FREE is the one I remember. As a commercial writer, I need to know the tricks. I can’t afford to be out-flanked by the competition. If Free makes me sharp, I better use it.
Why highlight Free now?
It was Third Tribe what done it. I heard Chris Brogan and his mates had set up a Tribe and you had to pay to join. That turned me on. Any group that includes Chris has me eavesdropping, hoping I’ll hear something to challenge and develop me. I’d say the same about Seth Godin [who’s coming to Brussels soon].
Here in Ireland…
we don’t get to meet these thinkheads over coffee. I use Twitter to listen to a gang of people I’ve come to respect and admire. But don’t we live in a FREE world, where ideas are being freely distributed over the internet? Isn’t it time to walk the talk and give everything away for free?
At about the same time as I was so brooding, my friend Roger Overall, fabulous photographer with a documentary approach, was bothered by a like issue. He was being asked to give away photographs to members of BNI at a business networking event in Cork. Roger was grumpy and said so. He didn’t see why he should give people his work for nothing. He blogged about it.
I have first-hand experience of what it’s like to get something for free.
For a long time I’ve had vulnerable mental health. Ages ago I had psychoanalysis, five days a week for five years. At the Institute of Psychoanalysis, I got free psychoanalysis for a while. I had little money and much distress. I got funding which paid for me to start an analysis. I could write a book about what it was like to meet my psychoanalysist each weekday, before or after work. The experience was multi-layered, but I want to focus on what it was like to get the service for FREE.
You all know psychoanalysis is a premium service.
It did me no good to get it without having to pay for it. It took me a long time to realise that. It meant I didn’t have sufficient respect for the commitment I was making to myself, my wellbeing and the wellbeing of others with whom I had relationships. I sort of took it forgranted. Of course, I didn’t see this at the beginning. My eyes were on other aspects of the analysis. The funding ran out. My analyst began to charge me. She ratcheted up the fees, until I had to pay a fee that hurt sufficiently to make me feel I was really investing in something vital. I found out a lot about the value of a price that’s pitched just right. It’s that experience of moving from FREE to paying the fee that floods back to me this week.
These days I want to pay.
I don’t want anything for nothing. Third Tribe will be a better place for me now that I have to go out to work to afford it. Every client that pays me will be paying Third Tribe. There will be a joined-up paying experience.
Roger Overall has figured it out for himself.
He’s clear that he won’t give away his work for nothing to business people who simply say "give us a photograph". I was corrupted by my taking the services of my analyst without experiencing what it was like to pay my way. What I learned back then has stood me in good stead.
I love Free. It’s like fresh air. But do I respect it?
Does Free not collude with my weak side? I think so. Better to pay a fair price for the special value I’m after.