They say that there is no such thing as a free lunch but I disagree. I have more than once been invited to a briefing where the lunch was free, and remember an IBM seminar in particular where I gained useful information as well as enjoying free sandwiches and drinks.
But these are trivial examples. The more important examples come in the availability of open source software.
This week I was sent a mail detailing all the great new features in WordPress 3.4. I use WordPress for a number of websites that I have created for myself and for my clients – for example, theaibs.tv for the Association for International Broadcasting and movingmarketing.biz for my own video marketing project. I use it for free and take advantage of great features and they keep on delivering more. Thank you very much Matt Mullenweg and others.
Since this post is created on blogger.com., I should also thank Google for their continual updates of this and their other properties, of which I take advantage.
Of course, most software companies do not offer the services out of the goodness of their hearts – they want to make money on the service somehow. This is often by advertising or offering freemium services (entry level for free, pro versions that cost). But many ask for subscriptions but leave it entirely up to the user to donate what they think is appropriate. Lots of users, myself included, respond with voluntary payments.
Being offered a good product or service for free accompanied by a low-key request for donations, builds loyalty just as free lunches make you feel grateful. We should all examine what we can offer for free that maybe just builds reputation and kudos. If you have a passion and something to offer, it may be a healthy option to make it a giveaway – healthy for you and ultimately healthy for your business.