What Free Means to Me

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Christopher G. Fox

Earlier this month, I started offering a free hour of consulting to anyone in the world of fintech or financial services. Not a free sample, not a lead magnet, not a discount on longer-term engagements, but a free offer where I sit with people and help them work through complex communications challenges. Individualized attention, focused on giving great advice people can use immediately.

In some marketing circles, free offers are taboo. The reasoning against it makes good sense. Offering something for free implies that it has no value. As many cynics ask, “why offer something for free if people wouldn’t pay good money for it?” The implication is that free offers wave the white flag on value.

I don’t necessarily see this approach as a model for others. But as it often happens, conventional wisdom turns out not to be true in all cases. Nor am I typically one to follow convention without probing its edges, and, more likely, breaking from the pack.

Part of why I am offering a free offer comes from the context of my typical client relationships. As clients get to know me, they frequently ask for my advice on topics on the margins of our paid engagement. They might ask for suggestions on preparing for a high-stakes meeting, resolving an internal challenge, or even simply the best way to convey a subtle or complex message. They value my ability to provide objective input, free from the constraints and assumptions that are holding them back.

In reflecting on those conversations, I began to realize they have value in and of themselves. However, offering them in a self-contained manner is new. I decided that the best way to formalize them into a discrete offering would be to run a pilot.

I also recognized that I tend to learn the most from my clients when helping them in this targeted way. In offering them this way, I have the opportunity to add depth to my knowledge of the industry and breadth to the many types of communication that my work typically spans. If these sessions become a starting point in new relationships, so much the better.

This offer also allows me to crystalize and package my expertise in a new way. Every communication takes a unique trajectory from its intended outcomes along the specific paths of its context, following particular targeted methods to effect change. Working through that three-step approach to high-stakes communication also helps me refine my practice as a communication strategist and coach.

Most importantly, however, I decided that offering this at no cost allows me to contribute to my larger goal of better, more effective communication in the world of fintech and financial service. I’m doing it to help serve my community. From person to person, one interaction after another, the better we communicate, the more of an impact we have in providing innovation to an essential system that keeps the world running. That’s something that motivates me beyond my consulting revenue, and the deepest level of what free means to me – freeing up ideas to circulate and promote change.

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