Is your time worth anything?
People love free. Whether it is hot dogs, concerts or software people are big fans of getting good value. Paying zero for something you value is usually a good thing. Consider Google … it is ubiquitous and is so popular that it has become a verb in the common language. It is a great service, delivered for free to anyone who has access to the internet. It is designed so that the ads are not that invasive and as a result people are not deterred from using it. If you want additional services from Google they offer some that are paid and others that are free. Facebook, Linked In and other very popular web services use a similar business model.
Allow me to share a short anecdote about our experience with offering a free service. We recently launched a managed file transfer service. We allow full use of the very powerful online service called PlanSource FT for free up to certain limits beyond which it is a paid service. If you don’t exceed the limits it can be used for free forever as there are no time limits on the offer. The thinking on our part is to allow people to use it for free to enable them to experience the value it can deliver in helping them be more efficient. If it works well and they like it then we may get a new client for our paid services. Simple deal … a completely free service within the limits provided … no commitments … no hassles.
Within weeks hundreds of people signed up to use the service. One morning we received an email from someone who was angry with us. He thought our tools and the service were great and stated that they would save him a lot of time and money. The problem was he needed to exceed the number of users that were provided for free and for that he would need to pay a nominal amount – less than $100. He was mad at us because instead of using the paid level of the service he had to spend “hours and hours” of his time emailing the documents to distribute them and even with all of that effort some people had trouble receiving them. So … he thought our services delivered great value to him but that we ought to offer unlimited service for free. Hmmm …
It appears that this is an example of someone who places no value on their time … it’s ‘free’ and doesn’t cost anything. He places the same value on his time as he does on our service. I beg to differ and think his time has value and am happy that this experience is very rare as most people seem to feel the way I do about the worth of their time and effort.