Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
Well, now that I think of it, I did in a previous post on a PR promotional event that literally involved food, where I had the takeaway that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The idea is that when you get something that is seemingly free, it often comes with strings attached that offer benefits for both the giver and the recipient.
It’s important to remember that we rarely get something for nothing, and it’s often important to take a closer look at the exchange. This matters on both sides, if you are getting or if you’re giving.
I was involved in two such free giveaways in the last week, and I think they serve as good examples of how effective and “free” they really are:
I was walking down the street in the past week, and saw a few people in front of me that were clearly giving something away. I could see them engage passersby with a few quick words, before either something was exchanged, or the person walked on by. As I got closer, I could see that red Frisbees were being given away.
My first instinctive thought, I have to admit, is to think “FREE STUFF!” when I see something like this. Aside from that, My second thought in this case was more practical: my kids might like to play with a Frisbee. It’s something we can do outdoors, thus promoting being active. So, I stopped to get the Frisbee.
What the person asked me was (if I recall correctly) “Would you like to do more?”. Then, I looked at the Frisbee and it had the name About.com on it, with a tagline “Do More”. Okay, so the message was connected from the person to the Frisbee, and the company name was there. Therefore , I was able to remember it.
This means that we both got something out of it.
- It got me thinking about – well, About.com and got me to check it out.
- Additionally, I’m writing about it here.
Thus, not only did the recipient get value, but the giver actually got value too.
Again, during the same week, I came across another giveaway. This time there were blue hats being given away at a table. There was somebody there, but the person was not actively engaged with people coming by. The hat itself was nice, and had some logo on it that I had never seen before. I picked it up, and looked find out more about the company. It wasn’t evident, so I just shrugged my shoulders and walked on. Clearly, others were doing the same.
I had that same initial excitement about getting something free, and follow up thought about how the item could be useful. But I got no additional information about the giver.
They didn’t talk, the table had no name/sign that was obvious to someone just taking a quick glance, and the logo didn’t make clear what the business really did.
In this case, I actually got value, but the giver probably didn’t get as much as they could have.
This situation where I had obtained 2 free items during the week led me to a few conclusions about “free” things and exchange of value.
- Look closely at what is value is being exchanged in any transaction
- If you’re getting something seemingly free, you might still be giving value back without actually realizing it
- If you want to give something – and this could include your time or services – getting something back is not guaranteed, and it’s up to you to think things through in order to make that happen
My Questions for You
Have you ever experienced a situation where “free” really wasn’t so free?
Do you think that strings are usually attached in cases where something free is offered to you?
What do you think are the best ways, on the side of the giver, to ensure that by “giving” something away, you end up getting value back in return?