First, Give Value. Then, Get Value.

Written by Paul on May 6th, 2008

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life.

When I was younger, I loved going to Costco with my parents for a single reason: free food. For those of you that have never been there, they have small kiosks at the end of every aisle where they gave away samples of new foods and drinks. (And, as you know, Indians love free stuff.)

The food sample is one of the oldest and most commonly employed tactics of the grocery business. Give shoppers a taste of a new brand of cookie and it’s a safe bet those customers will end up buying at least a box or two before they leave.

It just makes sense: Let somebody try something tasty, and they’ll come back for more.

Here’s what my friend Ramit has to say about this:

More people should be doing work for free to open up doors to the big rewards. By removing the money barrier for a set amount of time (”I’ll work for free for 3 months, but after that we need to negotiate a fair rate”), you open yourself up to huge rewards. The $20/hour or $50/hour you could get now is chump change compared to what you could with a great network and a proven track record.

Focus on making yourself valuable first, the money will come.

What can you do to start adding value today? If you’re unsure, email me – I’d be happy to help brainstorm ideas.

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5 Responses to “First, Give Value. Then, Get Value.”

  • gagan

    so paul, is this your way of hinting that you’ll start charging for your “free” advice? :)

    — 05/06/08 at 2:41 pm

  • Giving something for free is never a bad idea. Most people want PROOF that it is actually going to show them something worthwhile. If it continues to prove a VALUE to them, THEN you can show them that you’re giving them a service WORTH paying for… Good call.

    — 05/23/08 at 8:42 am

  • There does come a point where the ‘for free’ MUST change to the ‘for me’. Otherwise, the recipients will come to expect it for free forever. It is good to set a generous / reasonable time limit and imperative to enforce it when it has expired. It may well be that losing your services makes even more of an impact that having them did.

    I usually toss in something ‘free’ (beyond what was bargained for) but I always make mention of it on the invoice.

    — 07/07/08 at 10:55 pm

  • To give value first and keep on giving it is a very sound piece of advice I received from another writer and sales expert. So I agree and thanks for your writing.


    — 08/31/08 at 5:31 pm

  • DAB'ldo

    Know someone this works well for. When you can afford to work for free that is.
    Does not work well in the publishing industry (generally).
    Look how long it took Steven King and various others to get published.
    Though you can reasonably argue publishers getting jaded or The Peter Principle
    in getting to their positions.

    — 05/21/09 at 11:35 am

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