POWER OF FREE! #12: Reinventing Value & Price in Intelligent Content Marketing: A Short History of Free

If you’re familiar with our websites, you’ll understand that we essentially I have constructed an array of content that speaks very clearly to the various facets of our niche and makes it very user accessible and very easy to get great value from.


And because we’ve been able to understand how we can use the concept of giving away our information for free in the connection economy, it begs the question there. And if we’ve used free in this way, what is free today or what is free always been. So what I’m going to do is take you on a bit of a sort of historical journey, if you will, essentially, industrial economy business logic, which is different from connection economy, business logic, this dictates or rather, scarcity creates demand. Essentially, if you kept your offering scarce, they would essentially be able to charge more for it, you get more value from it. And this was all well and good. When we were in the industrial economy, where we were making widgets, what we were delivering the value that we were delivering was created in a physical tangible form. But we’ve kind of moved on from that.

So when we were in the height of the Industrial Revolution, if you will, the industrial economy, giving away stuff for free, didn’t really make any sense. So that was the case until really, the last leader was invented. And the loss leader was invented in the New Orleans saloon bars, when they gave away lunch for free. Understanding that essentially, people would go and they certainly take their fill of the of the drinks that would have to pay for and that’s essentially how the notion of no such thing as a free lunch came into, into being. And then during the third year of marketing, and I have presented on the fact that we’re now in the seventh year of marketing, but in the third year of marketing, sort of around this timeframe, this is where the efforts to sell really were, you know, inculcated into sort of marketing of the age.

And so essentially free from this period on really starts to come into its own and starts to take on sort of certain qualities. But ultimately, when you think about 20th century free, it was essentially a gimmick, because there was always some underlying costs associated with it. So if you look at these examples, you know, the razor, you will receive a razor for free, but you had to pay for the razor blades, you could get this free jello recipe book, but it was no use to you unless you bought the jell o product. Of course, in the context of sort of, in a modern era advertising, we get a free magazine like a magazine, but of course somebody’s paying for it, it’s not really free. Similarly, we all know about the mobile phone plans and what that’s all about.

And as you can see, even with advertising, and on TV, and also with the kids comics that I was so familiar with, I remember these kind of gimmicks going on all the time, but essentially always had to pipe with some sort of value in order to access the free. And then as we sort of really pushed this notion of free up to sort of where we are today, it really represents itself in this sort of idea that you can acquire all these free samples and all these free things, but we don’t actually ascribe much value to them anymore. And as the industrial economy is just pumped out, all of this stuff, we’ve essentially become inundated with all of this stuff. And if we’re being given it away for free, then it really has ultimately, very little value to us. All things considered.