The debate rages on, the dilemma continues and monetization is a magical, mystical concept. I’m sure our ancestors who didn’t even use currencies would be amused and confused about our seeming inability to figure out the basics of trade these days. Between the internet laying it all at our feet, and our totally disjointed culture of entitlement, the concept of ‘paying’ for things seems to suddenly come under scrutiny & derision. I’ve fallen into these discussions myself, but I think I’m better now. Reminds me of something a former colleague used to say …”Let’s not overthink this thing.”
There are some great articles to be found on how the price of ‘free’ has been used to sow market seeds and build loyalties, and of course a hot book called “Free” (which, no lie, for several months you could get for free http://www.thelongtail.com/ ). But to the author’s credit, he points out how many ways that giving things away is actually part of a bigger business strategy. (If you go to the site you’ll see how Chris Anderson, the author used this strategy to promote the book’s sales.)
Business – as in transaction – means trade –implies an exchange of one thing for another thing. But it seems a lot of people are forgetting that. I’m continuously shocked by how many things I’m able to download without being asked for a single thing. Not even my email address. Totally and utterly floored by how often I can access an entire manual, white paper, lesson or image for nothing. Nada. Diddley-squat.
If you’re placing content out there to connect with customers, users, communities of practice, Joe Public, don’t you want to know who’s actually paying attention to you? And to go one (or two) better, why they’re paying attention and how they found you? And if they are returning to your site – again and again? And if they are, what it’s worth to them? Sounds like the beginning of a revenue stream to me…..but only if you capitalize on it.