OK, here’s a totally radical thought.
Could you imagine going to a restaurant for a FREE meal, going to the cinemas for FREE!! I mean totally 100% free – no catch. Believe it or not, this is being considered. Those of you who know me and have attended my seminars, you know how much I talk about & believe in the ‘Power of Free’. It once was a marketing gimmick – now ‘free’ is a full fledged economy of its own. The ‘Freemium’ business model now is more powerful than the ‘Premium’ business model. So as a photographer if you are thinking of raising or increasing your prices, think again. Let’s have a look at a little known company called Google, heard of them ?
Have you noticed how they are one of the biggest companies in the world by letting everyone one of us use their product / service for free. Are you starting to understand how powerful ‘Free’ is. Google are masters at funneling us consumers for free and then introduce a variety of paid services and products like Adwords, etc to monetize the consumer and make money from them.
Giving away something for FREE at first is a key strategy for most successful companies these days. The list is long and endless, social media i.e Twitter, Facebook, low cost airlines, mobile phone companies and many many more. You really need to understand and implement this in your business model.
But does giving away something for free mean it will take you longer to make money ? I’d have to say yes. But does this strategy work ? Absolutely 100%. Lets take a look at blogs like this. If you have a blog, you can make money by monetizing it. I’m giving free content over here. The better the content, the more traffic I will attract and more money I’ll make.
I’ve got over here free trial for Foto SF, free report for my e-book ‘Portrait Photography Secrets’ & Free Photo Surgery. What I’m doing here is delivering something of value to you for free. If you like what you see or read, you will buy it. This is how the game works. If you want to grow your business, this is the business model you need. You will make more money by upselling related products / services, but first, you need to target your customer’s attention first.
Free is also the best and easiest way to grow your database. Without a client list or database, you will NEVER make money. Its a fact.
A great example of the power of free is King Gillette. At the age of 40, he was a frustrated inventor and a bitter anti-capitalist. It was 1895 and despite ideas, energy and wealthy parents, he had little to show for his work. He blamed the evils of market competition. His boss gave him one piece of advise: Invent something people use and throw away. One day while shaving, he got the idea of disposable blades. A few years later, the disposable blade was born.
What he did was to change the shaving habits of men, he gave away millions of razors. Banks even gave away razors with new accounts and advertised them as ‘Shave & Save’. Razors were bundled with everything from chewing gums to tea / coffee. The freebies helped to sell those products but the real winner here was Gillette.
By giving away free razors, which were useless by themselves, he was creating a great demand for disposable blades!! A few billion blades later, this business model is now the foundation of entire industries:
- Make video games console cheap or free and sell expensive games
- Give away mobile phones for free but sell monthly plans or credits.
- Install fancy coffee machines in offices for free and sell coffee sachets.
- Make printers very cheap or free and sell expensive ink cartridges.
- How is Vista Print making money by giving stuff for free.
Are you beginning to see how the free business model can work for your business.
But a word of warning!!!
From the consumer’s point of view, there is a huge difference between cheap and free. Give away a product for free and it can go viral. Charge 1p for it and it is seen as cheap – and you’re in an entirely different business, one of clawing and scratching for every customer. Don’t do it. The huge psychological gap between ‘almost zero’ and ‘zero’ is why micropayments failed. This is why Google doesn’t show up on our bank or credit card statements, its why Yahoo gives away disk space for free, its why Craigs List made $50 million last year from the very few things it charges.
The moral of the story ? The successful & profitable companies make their stuff free first. Are you ? Can you give something for free ? Have you considered giving away portraits or even weddings for free and making money from it ? Sounds bizarre, but very soon this will be the business model every successful photographer will adapt. While all the noise on the forums, seminars, etc is all about raising prices and going ‘high-end’, I’ve gone the other way. It took me a long time to understand the ‘freemium’ business model, I just wish I had learnt & adapted this a long time ago. This truly is powerful stuff which you cannot afford to ignore.
If you’re not sure how to get started on the ‘Freemium’ business model, get in touch and see how you too can be on the way to building a profitable and growing photography business.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this whether you agree or not. Please leave your comments below.