Thursday, October 11, 2007

Marketing to the Radiohead Generation

When Radiohead recently decided to make their new single available for free and asked fans to pay at their discretion, business around the world sat up and listened.
Not only was it a genius stroke of marketing but also did it transform customers expectations of what to expect from marketing and promotion in the future.

A spokesman for Radiohead says: 'As you might imagine, offers are ranging from nothing to more than you might pay for a CD in the shops.' The Observer goes on to say that “In part, Radiohead are asking: how much do you value us? But implicitly, they are also questioning how ..much people are prepared to pay to download music over the net. It's a question that music companies have been grappling with ever since the file-sharing site Napster was closed in 2001“.

This is just another way that the Internet is changing the way we do business.

The UK Observer points out that “Once again, the economics of the music industry is being turned on its head as artists take matters into their own hands. Haven't we already seen Prince sell 3m copies of his new album via a deal with the Mail on Sunday during the summer? Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and countless others have launched themselves via email or social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.”

And of course many of you will know that its not only the music industry using the shock tactics to boost sales. Companies like Netscape making their internet browser available for free, or Google giving you a range of free software applications simply to attract and keep your custom has become part of what we expect as web consumers.

The question is what next in the race to attract the Radiohead generation and where do we go as small business owners who don't have millions in the bank to back up our free offers?

For me the answer lies in balancing the free stuff with the revenue gaining products on your website or in your business. Make sure your free stuff is as good as the products you are charging for. Care as much for the customers paying you as the ones who are not and always ensure that the customer recognises the value in your products.

When offering free stuff, why not use it to:

Give at test drive or trial
Create sense of ownership
Make emotional connection with your clients
Under promise and over deliver

I'm guessing its back to the marketing drawing board for some of us.

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