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FutureNow Post
Monday, Mar. 12, 2007 at 10:48 am

The ROI of Free Revisited

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
March 12th, 2007

Why publish valuable content for free? This questions has come up so many times over the years we’ve been in business that it no longer surprises me. The answer has been the same since we started Future Now, Inc.

“An innocuous question can hit you where you live. I should have expected one day someone would ask me, “How do you measure your ROI for that?”

If I’m conducting client training on measuring, testing, and optimizing performance, clients have a right to ask about my own practices. The “that” she referred to is nearly 300,000 words we’ve published online for free over the past two years. I promised her I’d discuss it in this column.

How does someone who writes “ROI Marketing” justify publishing so much content for free? Do we charge for advertising, rent our list, or bombard those names with commercial offers? No. In fact, Jeffrey, my brother and partner who handles such things, estimates we’ve invested about $100,000 developing free content for our newsletter, free whitepapers and other publications. How do we measure its ROI?

We know one side of the equation: the investment. The money has been spent. What did we get in return?” keep reading…

That was from Bryan’s June 2002 ClickZ column, The ROI of Free, where he explained how we calculate the return on all the free content we create. He even said we would double down and did we ever. Since 1999 we’ve published almost two million words for free.

What made me think of this subject today is Chris Garrett’s interview with my friend Sean D’Souza. Sean sums up his response to a similar question with: “Give the ideas. Sell the System.”

I like Chris’s blog. Want proof? ;) You may notice that mine was the first comment. Chris has the interview and links to Sean’s

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Comments (4)

  1. [...] Be prepared to invest 2-3 years before seeing any serious returns. [Don't forget to read the ROI of Free.] [...]

  2. [...] How do you measure the ROI of free [...]

  3. [...] We do it happily! As our friend Sean D'Souza likes to say, "Give the ideas. Sell the system." [...]

  4. [...] If you're still wondering what a band like Radiohead can teach you about creating win-wins for you and your customers fans, perhaps it's time to revisit "The ROI of Free". [...]

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Jeffrey Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. You can friend him on Facebook.

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