Back in the sixties, a company called Gorlier devised a marketing technique destined to become famous and much imitated.
It was based on the idea of giving their encyclopaedias away free, instead of selling them. The salesman would tell you the encyclopaedia was being offered to you free-of-charge, in return for your endorsement of the product, to be used in a future advertising campaign. Great! “I’ll take them”, said everyone, but – and, of course, there had to be a ‘but’!
The encyclopaedias were free, but the annual updates had to be paid for. The stock phrase was, “We’re giving you a free encyclopaedia – the least you can do is pay for the updates!”
The Gorlier method has been copied for sales campaigns of all sorts of products – including computer software. For example, “We’ll give you the computer and software free – all you pay for are the updates, or the access to such-and-such a database (usually of dubious value)”.
Just recently, some software companies have been offering “free” programs – “all you have to pay for is the (obligatory) technical assistance”. Surprise, surprise! The true value of their software corresponds to the cost charged for technical assistance.
We at Interstudio entirely disagree with such sales tactics and believe that ‘you should call a spade a spade’.
A sale of software should have a sales price. A rental should have an annual rental cost. Any time limits on software should also be clearly stated.
And if a product is described as ‘free’, then it should cost absolutely nothing!