Reminder: Webinar On Smart Uses Of 'Free' For Businesses

from the how-to-use-it-properly dept

We talk about the importance of understanding "free" within the realm of economics and business models all the time here on Techdirt. One of the problems, however, is that time and time again people hear the "free" part, but don't think through the actual strategies of how to apply it properly. This sometimes leads to situations where they just randomly make some stuff free, and then complain that "free" doesn't work. Understanding how to use "free" properly means doing more than just "give it away and pray." So we're hosting a webinar, tomorrow, July 28th at 2pm ET/11am PT which will dive into the subject of how to use free intelligently as a part of your business model. You can register here (again, this may pop up a "preference" page before you can get to the actual signup page -- we've tried to get rid of it, but so far, no luck). Joining me for the webinar will be Simon Morris, VP of marketing and product for BitTorrent Inc., who will talk about various business models that use "free" as a component, highlighting examples of what works and what doesn't. Then we'll have Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, who will share a detailed case study of how Evernote does "Freemium," and what lessons they've learned in implementing a Freemium type of solution to make money. After that we'll have some Q&A and discussion as well, so come ready with questions. The webinar itself is being sponsored by Verizon, and it should be a lot of fun. We look forward to having you join us tomorrow.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Pity, I would love to attend, but can't make that time at all. Any chance of being able to obtain transcripts or something afterwards?

     

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  2.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    Pity, I would love to attend, but can't make that time at all. Any chance of being able to obtain transcripts or something afterwards?

    Yup. There'll be a recording of it that will go up afterwards if you can't attend live.

     

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  3.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Awesome!

     

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  4.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    But... FREE only works if products are duplicable at trivial cost.

    Wal-Mart doesn't use this notion. Neither does the MTA.

    Your "business model" only applies to a *narrow* range of (mostly computerized) products, not a full "realm". -- And it's the full realm that concerns me.

     

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  5.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: But... FREE only works if products are duplicable at trivial cost.

    But that is the point. "Free" applies very well to things that aren't scarce because that is what there price is pushed towards anyway.

    Companies like Wal-Mart have no use for free in this context because their products are scarce. I can't just walk into Wal-Mart, pull out my magic duplicator, and make my own copy of the t-shirt they are selling. That item is scarce and has a marginal production cost that is not 0.

     

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  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    Re: But... FREE only works if products are duplicable at trivial cost.

    Oh give me an effing break.

    Churches have been using the "free lunch" gag for years. You get 'free' food--at the price of having to schmooze with Jesus freaks the whole time.

    In most major cities across the world; there are "free" newspapers available. Both niche and mainstream. Of course, it is obvious to anybody with half a brain (or more) that these newspapers are supported by advertising.

    How many lawyers do you know that offer "free consultations"?

    How many contractors offer "free estimates"?

    Your short sightedness speaks ill of your education. Kindly temper your future arguments with thought.

    (Or did my sarcasm detector fail me again?)

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: But... FREE only works if products are duplicable at trivial cost.

    Wal-Mart doesn't use this notion.

    http://instoresnow.walmart.com/In-Stores-Now-free-samples.aspx

    Oops.

    Neither does the MTA.

    http://www.mta.info/developers/

    Oops.

    Your "business model" only applies to a *narrow* range of (mostly computerized) products, not a full "realm". -- And it's the full realm that concerns me.

    Free applies in lots of areas. If you know how to use it. That's what the webinar is about.

     

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  8.  
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    charlie potatoes (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 3:35pm

    free, my ass

    let me see if i have this straight ... i'm invited to a webinar about Free as a business model. and all i have to do is give you my name, information on my company, email address, home address, my home phone number ... and purchase the software to view it on? haha right. i think i'll pass.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Re: free, my ass

    and purchase the software to view it on?

    Hmm? There is no software to purchase as far as I'm aware. It should all run in your browser.

     

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  10.  
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    Grazina, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: free, my ass

    what software?

     

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  11.  
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    charlie potatoes, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: free, my ass

    the requirements for viewing this seminar say that i have to download webx. webx is not freeware. but, assuming i can download a trial, tell me why you need my home address and telephone number? email address i understand, not phone number. i give an email as the price i pay for many such things. i do not give my phone number. And if i get spammed by you i will let my unhappiness be known. Thanks.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    WebEx is software delivered as a service (SaaS), so you simply subscribe to the service—and you can use it from any computer with an Internet connection, and even from most smartphones. You can schedule a WebEx session ahead or start it instantly in your choice of ways: * From your own personal WebEx site * From webex.com * From Microsoft Outlook—like you do other meetings * Right from the Microsoft Office document you are working in You invite others to participate over email, IM, or text. They do not have to subscribe to WebEx. They simply click a link in your invitation to join you online, where they’ll get visual prompts to join the phone conference. http://www.webex.com/what-is-webex/faqs.html

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    We have no control over the platform. It was setup and is being managed by Verizon, using Webex. But there is no software to purchase.

    It's standard practice to attend webinars that you have to provide information in order to attend. I'm sorry if you do not feel that is worth it to attend, but that is the tradeoff.

     

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  14.  
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    charlie potatoes, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel. but the webex site seems to be a required download, according to Verizon. as far as supplying info as a trade off, sure. but why a home address and phone number? gimme a break. and obviously i have no reason to believe its worth it or i wouldn't have raised the issue. but I stand by my words. free, my ass.

     

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  15.  
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    DMNTD, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    Your just a regular firecracker ain't ya? Take NOTE: Its important on any web form to NOTICE: the * before the information box. You would have a valid point..but guess what they don't want your address and you can always fudge your phone number. Unless your honesty overrides your wit to hell or what?

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel. but the webex site seems to be a required download, according to Verizon.

    You claimed it was a "purchase." There is no purchase.

    as far as supplying info as a trade off, sure. but why a home address and phone number?

    As others noted, home address is not required. For the phone number, take it up with Verizon who set it up, but it is not difficult to get a free phone number that you can use as well.

    but I stand by my words. free, my ass.

    Did you pay any money? No? It's free. Part of the whole point is that you can often get people to "pay" in other ways -- with information being one of them. I'm sorry if you don't like it. You are, of course, free not to attend.

     

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  17.  
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    mkam (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: free, my ass

    I don't know how you have the patience to deal with this Mike. I guess running a blog gives you thick skin. Charlie Potatoes has found the smoking gun which blows all 'free' economics out of the water.

    I look forward to the after recording.

     

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  18.  
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    darryl, Jul 28th, 2010 @ 7:27am

    There is no "free" model

    Giving away free samples, is not quite the same things as basing your business model or giving stuff away..

    By definition, giving something away, is not a business model, if you think it is, take your plan to a venture capatilist or a bank and with your business plan, try to get a loan... good luck with that.

    As for selling your soul, and your ID information, ensuring that you will appear on any number of marketting databases.

    For a WEBinar, (not a seminar). no thanks.

    Plus the head speakers, are not from 'responsible' industries, and make their money out of factilitation what is legally theft.

    Sure some people might want to put a paid add on Pirate Bay, but I do not consider that a viable business model.

    It's not a business model that has so far resulted in any good technical innovations, but it has ensured a huge amount of copying or what others do that is good.

    There is a very good business model that has worked throughout history.

    Its providing products and services that your customers, and continuing to provide those services, and improving your relationship between the supplier and the client.

    You create something that people want, that people are willing to pay a fair price for.
    You establish a relationship with your client, work on continuous improvment in the products and services you provide.

    You have to work out one day, that excess supply does not improve the product quality, functionality, or the DEMAND for that product.

    Once supply exceeds demand, you can do no more, if no one wants your stuff, even for free what does it matter how cheaply you can create your 'thing' ?

    The other concept that is missed here, is that people ARE WILLING AND HAPPY to pay for products and services that MEETS THEIR DESIRES AND NEEDS.

    Whats more, people ACTUALLY LIKE TO SPEND MONEY, on things they want, and are willing to spend as much as they can afford, or more to get the quality and functionality they want.

    Why do you think a product like MS Office is so popular, its just a word processor, there are alternatives for free, many of them.

    Yet, people tend to still pay for product they want, and it would not matter if the alternative has massive over supply or infinite supply, even if the product is free, and does the same thing.

    People do not want it, they dont want free, and basically dont trust it.

    Sure, there are some things you can give away,, but generally its crap, There is nothing wrong with expecting to pay for a product that took money to create, and that was created to provide you the services or functions you require.

    SO really, there is no business model for free, somewhere, somehow, someone will pay.

    and someone will be paid, its just a redirection of who gets the money, rather than a system of no money commerce.


    So if your happy that the execs of Google make billions of dollars on the back of free software packages, that took programmers many hours to copy and to emulate what went before.

    Google love free, they can get stuff for free, and make lots of NON-FREE money off your backs..

    I do not, for example see it as a better system, to use volenteer labour, or not pay programmers, and use their programs to make executives very rich with no financial reward for the programmer.

    That is not free, that is moving the money up the food chain, and away from the producers.

    (like file sharing does, it takes the money from the actual people making the movies or music, and shifting that profit to third parties who had no expenses in creating the content in the first place)..

    I would rather, pay programmer to create product that people want to buy, reward them for their work, and provide financial incentives to do more and better and more saleable product.

    That is much better, than coning the programmer to work for free, live in poverty, so his efforts can be used by the likes of google, or bit torrent, to get page hits and to make lots of money.

    In the classic system the executives were responsible for making the system work, now with 'free', they can see they if they do not have to pay for production, or product it makes their job of making lots of money SO much easier.

    RED HAT for example,

    If you creat a product that you give away, so that you can charge for support services. you are not going to create a product that is trivial to support so that it can easily be self supported.

    So the incentive for the programmers in that case is to make their product complex, and flaky, so support is required.

    If you paid the programmers, and did not rely on support for your income, the programmers have incentive to create easy to use, and support products.

    they also have the incentive to create products that people are willing to pay for, therefore it will more closly meet the requirements and desires of the customer.

    That is what has happend, and it can be seen in the difference between "free" software and "commercial" software.

    Its just the way it is, just try to write a business plan, loan presentation based on a "free" model.

    then give a list of examples of that model working effectively, if you can find a list.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 8:53am

    Re: There is no "free" model

    By definition, giving something away, is not a business model, if you think it is, take your plan to a venture capatilist or a bank and with your business plan, try to get a loan... good luck with that.

    Darryl, you seem to be confusing "using free as a part of your business model" with "only offering stuff for free." No one has *ever* suggested that "only offering stuff for free" is the business model. The whole point of the discussions we have here and the webinar today is to discuss what you give away for free and what you charge for.

    As for VCs not understanding free, I just have to laugh. VCs fund business plans that rely on free *all the time*. Google was funded when it had no business model. Ditto with Twitter. Facebook as well. These are considered some of the most successful VC investments ever.

    Plus the head speakers, are not from 'responsible' industries, and make their money out of factilitation what is legally theft.

    That's simply not true. Evernote is one of the most popular apps out there. How is it that you claim Evernote facilitates theft? I'm guessing you're talking about BitTorrent Inc., but you may be confusing the company -- which works closely with the entertainment industry -- who makes the technology with the way some use that technology.

     

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