Looking for Free Stuff

Looking for Free Stuff

Are you one of those people who has no problem asking for free stuff?  Are you a person who feels that a business offers it products or services in exchange for something in return—money, bartered services, or product, publicity etc.—or are you a person who constantly asks, trying to get freebies or provide some “perceived” value? I am the former.

As a person who provides consulting services (knowledge and systems or intellectual content) for a living and speaks at events and conferences, I am constantly asked to provide services at no charge or speak for free. It’s pretty hard to earn a living when you give away your product for free, but I weigh and balance each request. If someone asks me to speak and I have a tie with the organization or want to help, I may waive my fee. If it will open new business opportunities for me, I may agree to speak for a reduced fee, or just travel, or travel and a full registration to the event. Typically, all of these are of value to me, so I would be getting something in return. But let’s face it. If someone across the country wants me to speak, I have no affinity to them, I don’t see the likelihood of generating substantial new business, and they don’t want to pay my speaking fee or cover my travel costs, then sorry, I am not doing it. It is not of value to me—and I believe there must be a value exchange.

I did not bring up this topic because of a deluge of freebie requests, but because of the blogger/Irish hotel social media excitement back in January. I have thought a lot about this and chatted with several folks about their thoughts and mine.

OK, she was looking for a cheap way for her and her partner to spend a romantic Valentines. She is a blogger with a substantial following on both YouTube and Instagram (over 75,000 followers on each). She spied a great hotel and thought (in my mind pretty arrogantly) that she had something of value—her audience—that the hotelier might want. So, she presumptuously reached out, praised his property, and suggested a contra/value-in-kind exchange. She would post, blog, and provide video with great praise for his hotel in exchange for a couple of nights over Valentines (probably sold out cash nights). He took exception to the email request and (with her name and identity blacked out) ranted on Facebook how presumptuous this was and went into a full tirade about it (probably overdone). Then she posted a YouTube video claiming that he was a bully for what he said. I feel that, if you are going to make (in my opinion) a stupid ask, suffer the consequences. Plus, he did not “out her.” He made it generic. She chose to make/take it personally. I always say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And no, this was not an-anti young people thing (she is 22; he much older) nor is it men against women as some have suggested. In my world, this was a failure to do any due diligence.

We always tell our clients, before you propose a solution and make a proposal to a prospect, learn their business. Know what they need, work with them to find out their needs, and then propose what they need within the budget they need. Don’t be an arrogant person or property, think you have everything everyone needs and you can solve all their problems (or don’t have) within your timeline and needs. She failed to do a discovery session. If she had, she would have discovered that his Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram followings are all larger than hers. He did not need of her audience (or so he thought) and he was probably already sold out over Valentines! If she had reached out to learn about his business, perhaps she could have shown him that her audience is different from his in demographics, and perhaps if not over Valentines, a deal could be struck for both to benefit. He, of course, responded rudely and was driving home a point, but was not at fault here.

Hopefully, before you present that next stock proposal, you will remember this TMC or the actual incident. Maybe you will decide not to pitch a stock package, but rather do some discovery first. Then you might secure a deal!

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  1. I would fit in the category of asking for “free” stuff in my job as a writer for a magazine. I’ve always stuck to the principal of win/win or no deal (a Stephen Covey 7 Habits idea) and it has worked well. I’ve been on both sides of the coin as someone giving the “free” stuff and someone receiving the “free” stuff and it has helped me make the most of each interaction. My job is to understand what I can deliver, be able to relate that to the person I’m dealing with, and then deliver. Unlike the example given, I do research who I’m working with first, I read the latest media to understand what they’re about and I am prepared for rejection. Someone once asked me why I was successful at what I was doing and I told them, it was because I handle rejection extremely well…it’s all back to win/win or no deal.

  2. As a person that has been approached many times for ‘free stuff’ as well, I appreciate your comment to ‘get to know a business before you make them a proposal’. In PARTICULAR, if the proposal is something of great value, and/or learning about the business will be of value to you even if your proposal is rejected.

    However, if the proposal is of little dollar value or risk, if investing the time to learn about the other person’s business is NOT core business, as I see it there are only one of two ‘right things to do’ – 1. Offer a simple and respectful ‘No thank you’, 2. Say yes, take the chance that something good will come of it – even if it is not easily measurable in the moment.


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