In some ways, the 'giving' philosophy of the Internet mirrors what is excellent in a good marketing strategy.

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Giving away free information and products

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Good marketing is about giving as well as receiving

In some ways, the 'giving' philosophy of the Internet mirrors what is excellent in a good marketing strategy. Many business people new to the Internet find it difficult to come to terms with the mindset of co-operation replacing competition. Sure, there's a lot of competition out here, but the people who are attracting the most attention on the Internet are those who are giving - free information, free graphics, free screensavers, free software.

A classic example is one of the most popular search engines on the Web, Yahoo, which has always been completely free to Web surfers, and is an excellent way of finding information. For a while, Jerry Yang and his team at Yahoo received very little direct income from the site, but such is the daily traffic on Yahoo that it is now able to sell advertising space with very little difficulty, as well as charging businesses to get their sites reviewed. I don't know the figures, but I guess that Yahoo is pretty profitable as a result of its advertising and reviewing revenue. And it all started off by giving - giving a free, high quality service.

OK, at the end of the day, no business is going to survive by giving away its products and services. But the very act of giving should make us focus away from what we want and concentrate on what the customer wants. Let's face it.. they are not interested in us. They couldn't care less if we just disappeared - unless they would miss us because of what we can 'give' them. And maybe we should not just be giving them what they expect. When you've read this, have a look at another article in this page: "Giving excellent service".

Giving something for nothing also enables prospective customers to sample what you are offering before they buy. This can be used for products (cheese samples in the supermarket, shareware, samples of welding joints) or, especially services, where people can't really experience it until they've bought it. Service 'samples' could be free reports, a free initial discussion, a free diagnosis service. You are only limited by your imagination..

..and by your attitude towards the giving. If you are offering something for free, them give it willingly, even though you are hoping that it will lead on to something financially rewarding for you or your organisation. Don't give with the attitude "Well that's a bit much! I give him something for free, and he just walks away without saying thank you." If you have this attitude then, believe me, it will be transmitted to your prospective customers even if you think that you've concealed your emotions. And the whole benefit of 'giving' will have been dissipated.

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