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September 6, 2005

The best things in life aren't free

Bookofjoepic_1

That's the take–home message I got from a very interesting piece in last week's (September 5) New Yorker "Talk of the Town" section by Michael Agger.

It's entitled "Car Seat Lady" and profiles Ms. Alisa Baer, a 25–year–old medical student in New York City who is an expert on car seat installation. (She's installed an estimated 5,000 in her career to date.)

She comes from a family of safety obsessives: her grandfather was a stickler for fire prevention and her mother, who began installing car seats in Baltimore in 1984, was the original Car Seat Lady.

The story is interesting and all but what stopped me in my tracks were these two sentences: "She used to make free house calls, but now she asks that people bring their seats to her. She's also begun charging forty–five dollars per seat, because New Yorkers told her they didn't trust something they didn't have to pay for."

Well.

That cuts right to the heart of the matter as far as I'm concerned.

I believe that in most cases price is proportional to quality and value.

Not all — but most.

And offering bookofjoe gratis strikes me as probably rendering it far less credible than if I charged.

Peter Drucker once observed that, as a consultant, the only way companies ever listened was if he charged so much money that it hurt.

Similarly, companies who enter the Japanese market sometimes find that dismal sales are a result of their goods being priced too low: the Japanese are great believers in paying exorbitant prices for what they perceive to be of the highest quality.

I recall one product, the specifics of which are lost in the haze of time past, that only started selling in Japan after the manufacturer quadrupled the price.

So after much thought and consideration, I have decided to emulate that company and henceforth will be charging four times what I do currently.

Hurts so good, doesn't it?

September 6, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

In my day job, we often tack on a small charge for meetings, simply because if people pay they tend to call and let you know if they are not coming so they will not be billed. If an educational session is free, they will not. You will then have food to feed 100 with 50 people in your classroom.

And the "free" issue is why journalists have screamed for years now that blogging won't last. Who in the world, after all, they ask, would be crazy enough to do this day after day - the writing, the research, the requests for attention - with no tangible cash benefit?

Who, indeed! ;)

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Sep 6, 2005 5:37:37 PM

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