That’s NOT Free!

Category: General Published on Apr 19 2015

Warning: This blog is a soapbox moment.


The speaker told me he had free information. “Just go to my website to access this great free resource.”


It sounded interesting and useful, so I went to his website. Upon arrival, I found out that I couldn’t access the ‘free’ stuff until I signed in and provided my name and contact information.

That’s not free! I don’t know about you, but I believe my contact information is valuable information. If it wasn’t why would Mr. Expert Speaker be requesting it? If you require me to trade valuable information how is your information free?


Now here’s the really interesting part. For all the times I wanted the ‘free’ stuff enough to pony over my contact information (and that’s not often – I frequently just click close and walk away) here’s what happened.

 - About 75% of the time I never hear from this company. 

 - About 10% of the time they automatically add me to their e-newsletter distribution list.

 - About 10% of the time they start to spam me.

 - And about 5% send a single follow up email or phone call.


Why do those 75% needlessly aggravate me? If they are not going to use my contact information, why don’t they just give the information away without any strings?


The next 20% are just annoying. If I wanted their newsletter I would have signed up for it myself. Don’t make me unsubscribe afterwards…it’s extra work and it makes me feel rude. As for spam, well, nobody likes to be spammed.


Only the last 5%, and I am being generous here, do this right and treat my information respectfully. They use it to reach out to me once, or once in a great while, to invite me to join other things like their newsletter.


But here’s the point. By requiring me to provide contact information and a possible lead for Mr. Speaker, the resource is no longer free. And using ‘free’ stuff as a lure to capture my information is sneaky and underhanded.


I challenge you to be different and more honest in your approach. Be up front and call it ‘almost free’, ‘no money required’, ‘membership level’, or something similar.


Further, if this bugs you like it bothers me, I encourage you to stop. Just stop participating and stop downloading stuff that says it’s free but isn’t. Who you are combined with how to contact you is valuable. And until we start valuing it appropriately, the experts won’t stop asking for it.


I am now climbing down off of my soapbox. Thank you for letting me rant and have a great day!