In "FREE: The Economics of Abundance and the Price of Zero," Wired magazine's Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson talks about the gift economy and how you can make products free without losing your financial return.
One idea that caught my attention was to give your products away for bloggers to review. With one of his previous books (The Long Tail, I believe), Chris says he sent out 800 copies to bloggers to review. As a result, the web was brimming with buzz and information about his book. Consequently, sales on Amazon led the market for the book.
If you have a product, don't you want as much Google visibility as you can get? Most people search for reviews of your product on Google before pulling out their wallets. If you want to maximize your online presence, you should send out complimentary copies of your product to bloggers like me. If it's a product within my area of interest, I'll review it on my site. Not only will my post reach 850 people, it will also give you Google presence -- sometimes on the first page if I SEO the post well.
This technique of free-giveaways-for-reviews is of course risky. You can't give someone a free copy of a book or software with the agreement that they'll "say something nice or else won't say anything at all." Sure, some people may blast your software and explain how problematic it is. But if it's that problematic, the software will die anyway.
A while back Scott Berkun sent me a complimentary copy of his book, Myths of Innovation. At the time I was perplexed that he was sending it to me for free. Now when I search online for Myths of Innovation, I see what an astute marketing decision it was. The sheer abundance of search results makes the book look like a much-talked-about, exciting publication. Although I haven't written an official review, I have quoted from his book several times, and I continue to excerpt from it. It's an enjoyable read.
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