Make your business grow by giving it away. Or anything grow for that matter.

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Take a walk baby, we’re going to talk some business.

K clearly knew what he wanted. He strode up with his girlfriend and asked no questions as he sat down and sent her away with the proclamation.

She took a walk and K introduced himself and told me about his relatively new business that he needed a creative approach towards. Ten seconds in and we were  suddenly at the races.

Here’s what’s going on, dude. The last two years I’ve been developing and coding software from scratch designed to help small colleges. Mostly the ones that teach medical technician skills to do background checks. Dude, I thought this would be simple but there have been lots of complexities and laws that I’ve had to accommodate for in the final product.

K has made very little money in the last two years because of his focus on the project and now that it is ready, and in his mind a great product, he is ready “to get paid” but – lo, and behold, the economy sucks and colleges aren’t buying new services like they were five or six years ago. He has a few little schools in the South but nothing more.

So his question was

How can I get my useful and needed product/service out there in this economic climate?

I had to say, it was a good idea. At least I liked it and I liked his industriousness and focus and told K so. I asked him

What is the Harvard of medical technician schools?

He had no idea.

Do he have any sense of what the Ivy League equivalent schools are in the field?

He didn’t.

But he asked why that was important. He justified that he can make his money on the margins.

I asked if he was making money on the margins – as he said, he wasn’t.

So I offered to him the idea of finding out what those schools are. Or what those schools are in a particular region or state. Then he should call them, find the right person to talk to and give away his product for a two year term (or whatever).

He was seriously taken aback and stood up.

Give it away? Dude, I need to get paid right about now! Ain’t no way I’m giving my shit out for free!

Indeed it was true but I reasoned with him that he had gone years with basically making no money he could go a bit longer.

I continued by asking him if he was confident about convincing a school of the value of his product and if price was off the table was he confident about them taking the service.

And he was totally confident about his skills and the value.

We went further down this road…if he could get the medtech version of Harvard then he could tell other schools that the med tech version of Harvard uses his product.

He quickly saw the marketing potential by giving his product away for some period to him most visible and potentially valuable customer and said

I am going to do this shit starting today! That is a damn good creative approach. I never would have thought of that.

His girlfriend wandered up and he said

Girl, you better talk to this motherfucker he can look at your shit in a different way.

A great endorsement indeed, but she declined as K dropped $20 into my jar and took my card.

Though this is a classical textbook approach to marketing it actually points in a subtler direction.

The principle is

Give what you think you lack.

In K’s case he thought he lacked business opportunities. So considering giving a business opportunitiy seems like an anathema.

But if you think you lack time…give it.

You lack love? Give it.

You lack good company? Give it.

Lacking money? Give value.

In the act of giving we find that we have what we seek and in this way we can cultivate a bit of stillness in our turbulent hearts.

What do you need to be giving away?

 

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4 comments
mjs
mjs

thanks for the feedback from the real world trixter!

Trixter
Trixter

I think this is a great approach. Every market is now saturated with software products. The word 'free' makes them get over a learning curve, and the value you get from them using it for two years is much more than what you would get just trying to sell it yourself.

Trixter
Trixter

I think this is a great approach. Every market is now saturated with software products. The word 'free' makes them get over a learning curve, and the value you get from them using it for two years is much more than what you would get just trying to sell it yourself.

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