Friday, January 15, 2010

IS there something Better than Free?

When you really dive into research, sometimes you make interesting discoveries. I’m integrating a long-term (1 year) test into my business model reflecting one of those discoveries.

Do you know what happens in the brain when you, or I for that matter, make a decision? One of the challenges is related to the threshold reality.

Body workers, trainers and healers have known for a very long time—long before modern science proved it electronically—that muscle fibers need to reach a certain level of activity before the entire muscle responds. What this means is that the messages to move must reach a certain level of concentration before an action happens. Much like a liquid solution balances across a membrane based on chemical saturation levels, an action of your muscle literally happens when enough individual fibers have been recruited to overcome stasis or inertia.

Turns out, a similar process happens in the brain. Enough tiny reactions of various types must accumulate in brain tissue before a decision is made. Regardless whether is a decision for, against, or something else entirely, the process is the same.

What’s really interesting in these studies is how there is a plateau between risk and threshold. There is not a 1:1 relationship between what a person risks when making a decision and what level of change must reach a certain level before change happens (aka making a decision).

Okay, now you may be wondering…so what and who cares? This has the potential, as studies continue, to give us a greater understanding for why people frequently connect greater value to something they pay for versus something they get for free. Basically, it takes just as much internal effort to choose something that’s free as it takes to choose something they would pay for. BUT the payment may create a greater need for rational activity (very little of the decision process is from the reasoning centers of the brain)—or the post-decision justification process.

You know you’ve done it and you’ve heard others do it! Some people call it Post-Purchase Anxiety or Sticker Shock. That time of re-living the decision experience and using different parts of the brain to assess the situation based on logical or rationale.

With this being the leading each of scientific learning about the tiny physical realities of decision making, it appears there is very little difference between “free” choices and “paid” prices. So in 2010 I’m testing the model that there IS something Better than Free.

The introductory classes and Teleseminars already scheduled (until February 6) are the last free ones I’m doing this year. For the rest of 2010, these events will be hosted for a nominal fee ($5-$10).

There are even more reasons why: You know that feeling when you do a free session or consultation that is the pressure to make a sale, get a customer, get a commitment? My clients and I have found that when an event covers the basic cost of offering—materials, renting the space, etc.—we can do an end-run on this feeling.

It’s just easier to be neutral on the outcome because my initial investment in the process is covered.

So far, the small steps I’ve taken in this direction are generating a positive response such as double the registrations! I’ll keep you posted on if or how this changes business development. Instincts matter and I look forward to seeing how my instincts on this change and the scientific data combine.

What in your business might actually be better than free?

Heidi Sue Roth

© Copyright 2009-2010 Heidi Sue Roth. All Rights Reserved.

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