I don’t know if it’s gonna pay off for Google or not. But I do know many businesses are creating a similar problem for themselves.
Here’s the scoop…
Google announced they’re doing away with their Google Product Search in the U.S. and converting it to Google Shopping this fall.
And it’s more than a name change. Google Product Search was completely free but Google Shopping will only be available to merchants who pay for it.
It’s the first time Google’s taken free listings from their search engine results and converted them to a paid service.
Here’s the potential problem Google is going to face.
With the exception of their advertising program, Google AdWords, Google got the huge market share it has in so many areas by offering free products (Search, Gmail, Chrome, Docs, Earth, Maps, Android, YouTube, etc.).
In doing so they’ve built a large base of followers who expect to get Google’s stuff for free.
And because they’ve built that “expectation of free” among their users, there’s going to be an inevitable backlash from those who now have to pay for things they used to get for free.
Now Google is probably big enough to weather the storm (unless doing this becomes a habit with them), but the real question is what about your business?
A lot of companies give away free stuff to build their lists…great quality blog posts, monthly newsletters, special reports, whitepapers, etc. And that’s great. It can be a very effective marketing strategy.
But you have to be careful you’re not building a list and building a relationship with those on your list based on the “expectation of free.”
Because what happens is you end up stuck with an unresponsive list that doesn’t buy.
One example of this is my friend Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy. Scott puts out high quality, truly original, thought provoking content on a nearly daily basis. But Scott’s income isn’t nearly what it could be.
Why? I’ll let him answer that for you in a quote from his blog…
“I’ve conditioned the marketplace to expect my work as a gift, not a product. They’re aware of me, but I don’t have command over them. And once you’ve given the milk away for free, it’s hard to go back charge for the cow.”
It’s said over and over again in Internet marketing that the power is in the list. But that’s only partially right.
The power is in a responsive list of people willing and able to buy from you.
So condition your list to expect to receive offers from you. Condition them to take action when they receive something from you (Hint: It doesn’t always have to be about buying something…it can simply be issuing a call to action such as “Download my free report” or “Share this post on social media”.) The point is to get them conditioned to respond to whatever you send them.
Because, ultimately, a responsive list with 100 people on it is worth way more than an unresponsive list of 10,000.
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