Is this really free?


Lately I’ve become very irritated with the word free.  Download your FREE ebook here! Why didn’t we have anyone attend our FREE event? Everywhere I look I see “free” offers for products, services, and resources.  Additionally, I hear people get frustrated because they cannot fathom why their free event didn’t reach capacity.  My answer is….because it’s not really free.

Just because there is not a monetary cost, does not mean something is free.  If a company asks for my email address or any type of information, what I am downloading is no longer free.  My email address is very important to me, giving it away is not free.  If the resource were actually free, the company wouldn’t be collecting information and the download would be immediate.  For something that is “free,” why am I giving you my personal information and spending time filling out your forms and before downloading the resource?

From an event perspective, it is important to realize that if people are attending your event they’re not doing something else.  It may sound simple, but attending a free event means they are not spending time with friends/family or attending another event.  In my case, if people are attending free events at the university they’re not working on homework, relaxing, or working.  So, attending an hour long event means that they’re not working for an hour- which means the event is not free.

A while back, I signed up for a free resource of some kind and the next thing I knew, I was on an email list that I couldn’t unsubscribe from.  One day, I got so frustrated that I sent (a bit of a sarcastic) tweet.  The photo below was a job description that was included in the email.  I was so frustrated by their continued emails that I tweeted the the photo and asked it this was their actual position description.  I was sad to find out that the reason that position description was included in the email (that they sent to me) was that they didn’t think anyone would read the email. (Please, as marketers, don’t send emails you don’t think people will or want to read.)  The gentleman that tweeted me back also did not understand that I was trying to unsubscribe from the emails and was disappointed that I was still receiving them.Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 8.41.01 PM

Next time you ask, or are asked, to exchange your personal information for a “free” resource, ask yourself, is it worth it?

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2 Responses to “Is this really free?”

  1. Mike Says:

    Great post. I often click on a link for a “free” download and quickly close the web page when I am presented with a long form to fill out to receive the free ebook. Often, I have found the free ebook is worth what I paid for it – or less when considering opportunity cost of time lost downloading and reading it.

    • KatShanahan Says:

      Thanks Mike! I agree, sometimes trying to download something “free” is very frustrating. The material could be great, but getting it is so problematic that I give up!

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