In many formats price is just used to filter out some of the noise, and an item is priced so low remind people it has some value, but allow it to spread fast. Consider Seth Godin's new book titled The Dip. He is a brilliant marketer, has huge reach, has a blog dedicated to marketing that book, and Barnes and Nobles sells the brand new audiobook version for $5. How do you compete with that?
Does Seth need to use such a low price point? Nope. He just wants his idea to spread as fast as it can.
He creates significant value then gives it away. It gets him more reach, which he can use down the road to monetize any way he wants, from corporate consulting to starting up a network site.
Not that Seth would need to do this to get read, but I have seen other marketing experts buy thousands of their own book and give them away so they can make the best seller list. Exposure leads to more exposure, which leads to both trust and opportunity.
The web has so much free content on it because the links and attention are so important.
There are at least 6 big reasons selling information is hard
- there is an abundance of information
- many types of information have serious hidden biases or costs that allow a person to create something that looks rather valuable while not being so
- search makes it easy to find an answer that is good enough
- many packaging formats (ie:newspapers) are becoming irrelevant
- blogging makes it easier to consume information free, in convenient bite sized chunks
- attention has value which can be leveraged in many ways, allowing you to discount the price of information to keep gaining attention...look at how much people blog every day
If even seasoned marketers near the top of the game are giving away a lot of value you have to give away a lot to gain enough traction to get enough mindshare to make it profitable.
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