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web 2.0: if I give it away for free, how do I make my money?

By May 21, 2008Marketing

Web 2.0 Tag Cloud by Luca Cremonini

I admit, it does seem a bit backward, this whole 2.0 thing. Basically, you give away top-notch information, via your content – articles, video, etc. – and then you become a wild success…but the question that comes up over and over again, is ‘HOW?’ How do you make money if you are giving away your expertise for free?

I love what I just found, because it gives such a great example of how 2.0 works and it essentially answers this question. Ron Miller spoke to David Meerman Scott, who is the author of the bestselling book The New Rules of Marketing & PR (and also a fellow Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine)…and David illustrated the point with this:

“This idea is not new. Starting in the 1960s, the Grateful Dead encouraged concertgoers to record their live shows by establishing “taper sections” where fans’ equipment could be set up for the best sound quality. The band encouraged Deadheads to trade tapes and make copies for friends. The cult of a Grateful Dead concert became a pre-Internet World Wide Rave driving millions to the band’s live shows over thirty years of touring and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. “

Brilliant. That’s exactly it. You give it away for free, so people take it. IF THE CONTENT IS GOOD (mind you this is a rather large necessity for success), THEY GIVE IT TO ALL OF THEIR FRIENDS. All of these friends want more now that they know about you…so they come and they see you for themselves and they tell their friends and they want more…and they ALL buy your goods and services.

If you want to read Ron and David’s entire interview, “The Press Release is Dead: How Web 2.0 Could Save PR and Marketing” click here.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Hi Julie!

    Amazing isn’t it? If the Grateful Dead hadn’t given away content, I’m convinced that the band never would have been a success (their records never really sold very well).

    The same thing is true today. But the ways to spread ideas are so much easier because of the Web.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks for stopping by David, I’m honored! I loved the interview, obviously, very smart, very right-on. Can’t wait to check out your book…

  • it’s tricky, though, because I think it’s a much more crowded marketplace than it was in the 60s. On the Internet, there are so many people competing for an audience. How do you make sure your name/brand stands out and gets remembered amid all the noise?

    It’s one thing if you have a product for sale–because then, I think giving something away to attract people to you/your product makes total sense. But what if your content IS the service you have for sale? If you give it away, what is there to sell once people come knocking?

    I don’t think it’s always a bad idea to “give away” your work (though I prefer to think of it as a strategic marketing move–I’m not getting paid for it directly, but it’s paying off in some other way). But I don’t necessarily think it’s always as simple as “Give away good stuff, and somebody will pay you for other good stuff.”

  • btw, I’d love to hear David’ s take on my question if he’s still reading!

  • Julie Roads says:

    I guess I don’t see it as giving away ‘work’, just giving valuable information, tips of your huge professional iceberg.
    It is a crowded marketplace, but I think it was in the 60’s relatively speaking as well…still, there were other bands and only the Dead has that sort of following.
    But, to answer your question – hopefully, David will too – I would say that the answer is participation. Talk, put yourself out there, engage, be respectful, teach and learn.

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