FREE from Chris Anderson

 
Your Time Is Important To Us

I find Chris Anderson often has very thought-provoking ideas. He is the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. That Long Tail concept helps explain why so many surprising Internet businesses work. He honed the ideas for many months before the book came out through his Long Tail blog.

He now is following the same path for his next book which will be FREE. You can learn more about it in an ITConversation on FREE: The Economics of Abundance and the Price of Zero. Here is some of the introductory text:

From free scoops of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to the business model where razors are given away to sell the blades, there’s a whole gift economy at work that competes with the commercial economy. We think of free as scary and radical but this economy has always existed. Previously not dignified as an economy, its currency is not money: It is reputation, attention, respect, fame, fun or money from a superior service after giving away something inferior for free.

You can build whole businesses around giving stuff away for free. He puts his money where his mouth is. He’s giving away the audio version of his upcoming book, “Free: the Economics of Giving Stuff Away”.

He homes in on an important piece of the puzzle in a recent post on The big lie about free. The key is towards the end:

In a recent post, we listed dozens of business model built on free. All of them are based on the notion that free stuff does have value and the way we measure that is in the time people spend with them. Do I actually need to remind Wall Street analysts that time is money?

Time is an important currency. If we give someone minutes of our time, we give them something of great value. We only have each minute once. If an advertiser tries to grab that minute, then we may well be offended. If on the other hand we are so intrigued by that advertiser’s YouTube video, that we watch from start to finish, then we freely give those minutes. The advertiser has earned those minutes and had a real opportunity to communicate with us. I think once more Chris Anderson is on to a winner.

Related: Time is Critical

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8 thoughts on “FREE from Chris Anderson

  1. Indeed good thoughts to try to implement in any online (or offline) business. I think Eben Pagan said it very well that we should give away your BEST content/knowledge…Having done that, people will sense something genuine in the fact that you are actually giving away good stuff, and will subconsciously be drawn to you from that point on in order to get more of what you have to say/give (you made a good first impression), and also they are more likely to buy your stuff and support you in the future due to the law of reciprocity whether they are aware of it or not!

  2. I think Chris Anderson is brilliant, and once again he’s presented an excellent synopsis of a complex marketing concept.

    Of course, not every business can give away product for free; but almost any business can nurture customer loyalty by giving away support, service, and advice as part of an after-sales package. Honda’s not about to give me a free car … but free support and services after the purchase will greatly increase the chance that I’ll be a repeat customer.

  3. I read the Long Tail (book – I believe he wrote an article by the same name as well) no doubt the idea was inspirational for me. I’ve passed the book round a few friends as well.

    But the idea that people can be “[getting something] from a superior service after giving away something inferior for free” worries me. If I understand what he’s getting at properly then it all sounds like a pyramid scheme to me which is a model I have seen with frightening regularity online.

  4. I think you're missing the point. It's not like a pyramid scheme at all. Basically you give something for free because you know people will use it (and use it out) and then buy replacement parts from you.

    It's a bit like selling printers for dirt cheap but charging £££ for ink cartridges.

  5. I’m not sure, cuz I’m just in high school (one year to go!), but isn’t also like giving software away free, like Linux, but the end user pays for support? My Dad used to be with a software company that specialized in membership software for health clubs, gyms, etc. They gave the health club the software for free but charged them for ongoing support, development, and so on. Also, I read a little bit of Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” book and liked it.

  6. You don’t necessarily have to give away cheap stuff. I have built quite an extensive email list through fine jewelry sweepstakes. It has been much more effective than PPC or traditional advertising.

  7. Free and cheap is the big lure. In many cases people looking for this stuff do not find what they are looking for. When they are ready to spend, it sure helps if your relationship with them is developed even if just by a newsletter subscription.

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