All-Caps Shouting FREE! Is So Last Millennium.

It’s not that I’m against free webinars. Just cool it with the shouting, all-caps, annoying FREE!. It’s not a differentiator. It’s not unusual. Lead with something else.

You’re not Oprah giving every member of your audience a new car. You’re not giving away free meals, or even free coffee. You’re doing a webinar. They’re almost all free. My email collects 5-10 webinar invitations every day, all of them free. Get over yourself.

I’ve got nothing against free webinars, I present free webinars too. I really like the technology. It’s a great medium. I just really don’t like marketing as if FREE! is something that matters in a webinar.

And, come to think of it, have we not come to an age in which free is so frequently assumed with so many content and expertise offerings that it’s become odd, a bit jarring, to make such a point of it? Free webinars, free blogs, free movies, free radio … all I get when you shout out FREE! is that you’re a bit out of touch.

And, wait a minute … maybe your webinar, or whatever, would be more successful if you gave it a value. Is it worth it?

(Photo credit: Viviamo/Shutterstock)

4 thoughts on “All-Caps Shouting FREE! Is So Last Millennium.

  1. Hi Tim,
    I hope you are doing outstanding each and every day! What a pleasure it was to meet you in person at the SmartUps event in Eugene on October 1st. I took to heart the practical advice from yourself and the other Angel Investor panelists. I learned there’s so much I have to learn about the business of business.

    Like everything else in life, it’s about constant and never-ending improvement. I am determined no matter what it takes to close the gap on my nascent business learning curve and develop my own business acuity. In the process, if I’m going to learn I want to learn from the best.

    Travelling down to Eugene was a positive experience. The people in the SmartUps event were very kind. I may have been a “duck out of water” so to speak and total stranger to the group. At the end of the evening I left feeling more informed and just as important made to feel very welcome.

    I found your commentary on this subject of free webinars intriguing. It prompted me to pause and consider the word “free” and it’s implications.

    1. Depending on the context used, there’s really no such thing as anything being free. Whether we’re advertising a “free webinar”, offering “free advice”, or giving away “free samples” at the end of the food aisle in Costco, there are always indirect costs embedded in any “free” proposition. On the other side of the coin, not every use of the word “free” should necessarily imply negative motives, disingenous intent, or an attempt at a misleading short-term gain marketing tactic.

    The use of the word “free” requires examination. I feel what defines the use of the word “free” is the integrity, honesty, and transparency of the source making a “free” proposition.

    For example, if Tim Berry is offering Joe Guerra “free advice” with the sole intent of making a quick buck by baiting Joe Guerra to buy questionable software, that is dishonest. In this context “free” clearly lacks integrity. In contrast, a Mr. Berry may offer an aspiring entreprenuer like Joe Guerra a free something with motives of integrity.

    That “free” something could take the form of advice, software, or a consultation. If the intent of this transaction results in both parties gaining honest economic advantage and gain, “free” is appropriately applied in this circumstance. The pot is sweetened even further if the need to serve the greater good of society is met.

    “Free” is a very good thing if it is conditionally prefaced if, at the end of the transaction, the intent is defined with the embedded traits of honesty, integrity, and transparency. As a reminder of the importance of these values, a good friend once gave me one of the most important bits of “free” advice. In hindsight, I have learned that his advice was not only sage, it had even more value because it came from the heart.

    Whether I’m pursuing an end goal of advocating for social justice, pursuing economic advantage, or response to conditions of adversity, my friend freely shared the following three words that have to this day served to become my personal cornerstone: “Right is right”. Now that’s free advice that trascends all circumstances no matter the context of life it is being applied.

    Your commentary on “FREE” webinars prompted me to expand my own thinking of the word free. Your commentary is of value because, from a business perspective, it fundamentally refines and defines the manner in which I market my startup. Even more important, your commentary served to reaffirm the value of integrity and the continuing role it plays in how I conduct my personal affairs and define my life.

    Thank you,
    Joe Guerra – Incident Management Consultant and founder of Entropia Disaster Planning Services.
    Beaverton OR.

  2. Hey, Tim. Thanks for the insight.

    I guess if you offer a more intelligent, as well as innovative, information then why not give your ideas — generated into web seminars or whatever — value?

    However, in my own point of view, there is so much information in the Internet that it is very common these days that what you find unique and smart from another website can be a dime a dozen in another.

  3. Hi Tim,

    I am an aspiring business planning coach. I think your business planning applications are fantastic. A lot of thought and research as clearly gone into them and I’d love to join the team of coaches and resellers advocating your hard work. (:-)

    Now, as far as ‘free’ offerings of webminars, advice or any other services is concerned, I think Joe has a point there. If there is “genuine intent” behind the free offer and both parties stand to gain economically then ‘free’ is used appropriately.

    Unfortunately, it can be misused so yes, it all boils down to the context you see it being applied.

    Another thing is that some companies, still charge for webminars so to encourage visitors who might not otherwise attend, business owners need to put up the FREE red flag on their sites.

    I’d love to offer ‘free’ consultation as a precursor to selling your products because I genuinely believe in the benefit my clients will get from them. In this case ‘free’ will be used to get the attention of my audience and the rest will flow naturally.

  4. Tim, you’re right. Free is overused. I have stopped attending seminars that promote great speakers, but those who end up only giving attendees a tiny bit of info. They then spend a great deal of time trying to sell you a “program.” I would rather pay a higher price and get good content.
    Thanks, Suzanne

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