Monday, September 21, 2009

Words of wisdom from Woody Allen & the problem with "free"

We all look at the life cycle of our products and wonder, what if we could have more control over how it's perceived and managed.

Woody Allen said it best when he said "In my next life I want to live backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. And you finish off as an orgasm".

Product perception is one of the most difficult things to control because of all the variables. It's like sending your child off to school for the first time. You do all the right things until he leaves the house, you have some control as he comes home from school each day, but then the rest is up to fate.

Seth Godin has some interesting thoughts on product perception recently.

He said I think it's dangerous and often fatal to put free on top of an existing business model. Things fall apart.

People look at the free revolution and say, "oh, that could never work. If I gave x, y or z away for free, I'd fail." They're right. They will fail... If they keep the model the same and just give away stuff for free.

The way you win is by reinventing the model itself. So, for example, lululemon doing giant free yoga classes in New York. The more people come, the more clothes they'll sell... it'll become a movement. Or Crossfit, publishing their insane work outs online. The more people do them, the better the scarce part (private coaching, etc.) does.

We spent a generation believing certain parts of our business needed to be scarce and that advertising and other interruption should be abundant. Part of the pitch of free is that when advertising goes away, you need to make something else abundant in order to gain attention. Then, and only then, will you be able to sell something that's naturally scarce.

This is an uncomfortable flip to make, because the stuff you've been charging for feels like it should be charged for, and the new scarcity is often difficult to find. But, especially in the digital world, this is happening, and faster than ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment