We all like free stuff. If something is available for free, we don’t pay for it. Usually, free stuff isn’t very good, though, unless it’s
stolen or being given away in a desperate attempt to draw in customers who will pay later.
Maybe it’s the availability of illegal downloads that has made people feel the Communistic sense of entitlement-that everyone should share
everything and everything should be free. This social welfare concept has forced struggling artists and entrepreneurs to generate a bunch of freebies
just so people will try the fruits of their hard labor.
Yesterday’s consumers wanted free product samples, attractive packaging, endorsements and commercials. Today they want a fully-interactive website
with games, quizzes, downloadables, graphics and dozens and dozens of pages of content discussing your product from every conceivable angle. They want
a sales pitch they’ve never seen. Funny YouTube videos. A blog or web comic dating back years that gives away most of your ideas. And they want it
all for FREE. A marketing package that takes corporations a team of people months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and if you do all of
that by yourself, out of your own pocket, maybe
they’ll consider buying your thing, if they’re not busy or distracted by all of the other
free crap they’re getting from everyone else.
Presentation is everything. Style over substance. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Most of what’s being passed off as steak in art & business is
crappy donkey meat, which is sold as prime rib, because the snake-oil hucksters out there run a good PR show. They are fabulists who can spin a few
threads into a flashy-looking tapestry. They are graphomaniacs who don’t mind vomiting out volumes of superficial content, and the public laps it up
because they don’t know any better and because it’s FREE.
Want to sell a product you made? In addition to creating the thing, you’ve got to come up with the label, do the graphic design and take it around
to the shops by hand and get people to try it. They might even like your product, but then-what’s that you say? No free T-shirts? No website with
flash games? Sorry, you’re not professional. Hit the bricks, pal.
Want to publish a book? Keep dreaming. Show up to a publishing agent with 250,000 fans from your website and maybe they’ll give you the time of day.
That’s right, they want YOU to do the leg work of building your audience so they can take 15% of your signing cash just for picking up the phone to
the publisher. Where will you get 250,000 fans? Not their problem, man. Maybe you can give away some free crap and generate word-of-mouth.
The pinnacle of the “something for nothing” mentality is Kickstarter. Crowd source funding is brilliant in theory-if you’ve got a product that
people want, they’ll give you money to support it. It’s a direct supplier-to customer chain that avoids the middlemen, builds your fan base and
distribution network and generates some capital to help you get over some of the barriers for a typical start-up. It’s completely market-driven.
BUT…then at every level, you’re expected to do what…give away free crap
! I’ve seen people put as much work into their Kickstarter
giveaways as in the original product. Maybe the swag is some kind of “guarantee” that the Kickstarter person won’t just abscond with your pledge
money, although that sometimes happens anyway.
If you want to make it out there, you’ve got to start with enough capital to give away five dollars’ worth of stuff for every dollar you earn or
you’ve got to have a product that’s so amazing that people will just volunteer their time to help you get it out there-and you’ve just got to
hope that no one steals it.
edit on 1-4-2014 by Snsoc because: typo