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You gotta give to receive

May 13, 2011

Not long ago, a friend of mine called Kees was stopped by a homeless guy near Liverpool Street.

“Here y’are, mate!” said the homeless guy, and gave him a penny.

Kees laughed his head off. “What’s this for?” he asked.

“I’m an alternative beggar,” said the homeless guy. “I’m giving you a penny.”

Kees thought this was the most hilarious thing he’d heard for ages. Of course, he dug his hand in his pocket and gave the guy a few pounds.

What does this example teach us?

Free stuff is irresistible, isn’t it? Remember when you were 5? Did you manage to get your parents to buy the cereal with the free toy inside too? Seth Godin did. His books, “The Big Moo!” and “Free Prize Inside!” are all about doing something different and giving away a special free gift.

For Kees, the free gift wasn’t the penny. He didn’t need the penny! It was the special feeling he got from this experience. He was shocked, he was surprised, he was entertained – and he had a great story to tell to everyone he met. THAT was the free gift.

Seth Godin has a great list of those ‘free gift’ experiences right here on his blog.

And for the homeless guy, what did it cost him? A bright idea, a couple of minutes and just one penny.

What can you do to make your target audience feel that free gift feeling?

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