When to give away the farm

Last week I wrote about the magic of free and finished by saying make sure you are strategically giving some stuff away for free.  

This is not a new idea. I recently heard Seth Godin in this podcast say be clear about what you offer for free and what you do that's expensive.

That’s all very well, I hear you say, but what should be free, and what should be expensive?

The best answer I’ve heard to this comes from my friend and Thought Leaders founder Matt Church. He said that he: “Makes information free and experiences expensive”.  

I think that’s pretty profound.

If you go to his website you can now download his books for free. And it sounds a bit sacrilegious in our world. At Thought Leaders, we say your thinking comes first, develop world class IP, and ideas are the assets of your practice. So we should just give them away?


In 1984 Stewart Brand said “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” 

The commercially smart thing to do is to concede the fight. Let your information go. Set your ideas free rather than protect them. (Perhaps they were never yours to begin with.)

The more people are touched by your ideas, the easier it will be to make the experiences you provide expensive. And paradoxically it will make it more likely, not less likely, that people will want to pay to see you speak, or attend your workshop, or buy your mentoring program.  

I think there is also some grace to it. It’s surrendering to the way the world is now, rather than railing against it.