Seth Godin writes on his blog that he is in disagreement with Malcolm Gladwell over the concept of “free” in the market place. Here’s an interesting comment:
In an attention economy (like this one), marketers struggle for attention and if you don’t have it, you lose. Free is a relatively cheap way to get attention (both at the start and then through viral techniques).
I agree with Godin. In the business world, free opens the doors for many other items that you may wish to purchase. Each month, “Christian Audio” gives away a free audiobook for you to listen to. There are no strings attached and the quality is outstanding. Why do this? To get you to come back and purchase other books. I have. Once I experienced the quality and got hooked on listening to their books, I wanted more.
A lot of online writers are offering up small pieces of work for free so that you can “try” their product. Leo Babauta at “Zen Habits” did this when he offered up a shortened ebook to promote his first published one. It was a great idea. It opened up vistas for new readers, created some needed viral marketing, and if had value! It wasn’t just a cheap download that only had value if you bought the book. It stood on its own.
As print media vanishes it will be imperative for writers to find ways to communicate with their fans and potential fans. The concept of “free” has merit. What do you think?