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Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

Money For Nothing & Clicks For Free

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
February 23rd, 2009

As a young teen I heard Mark Knopfler sing about “money for nothing and chicks for free” and I remember fantasizing about how good that sounded but even then I knew that it was too good to be true.

I’ve noticed from many of my marketing colleagues that money for nothing is the order of the day; maybe it’s the hard times. Seth Godin blogged yesterday about getting rich quickly, Brian Clark blogged about making money from blogs, and just this week I saw and replied to Mary Schmidt‘s status on Facebook say “Mary is working on a fun client project – how to grow/get the word out without spending any money? Hmmm…”

The common thread is that some companies are just begging marketers/ vendors / consultants etc. to lie to them. We get that too, demands we guarantee 100%+ increases in conversion rates without them having to invest hardly any time, resources or money.

There are NO magic bullets. When things come fast and easy they leave even easier more quickly.

Isn’t word of mouth (“WOM”) free? WOM isn’t exactly free, but it can be. If you want to generate WOM do something remarkable for your customers. After all, WOM is driven by things people can remark on, hence the term remarkable. Focusing on how your businesses can be remarkable rather than creating remarkable marketing campaigns is way harder but it produces permanent long-term results.

There will always be new shiny object peddlers and marketing guru charlatans who entice desperate, greedy or ignorant people with happy talk. I wish that wasn’t so, but it is. Please take my advice; if something sounds too good to be true then it is.


P.S. Would you like to know what I tell potential customers?  You might consider it self promotional so stop right here if you don’t care to read it.

I’m going on record to say that if you want to increase your conversion rates There will be no gimmicks, no empty promises, no broken budgets and no illusions.

 I won’t guarantee a thing. I won’t blow smoke.

 I won’t even try to convince you. FutureNow has the track record, the skills and the experience but it could be useless to you, unless you commit your time, money and resources.

That may sound harsh but if you are still determined to improve your conversion rates then you can set the pace, the budget and your goals. FutureNow will help you stay on target.

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Comments (43)

  1. Great post, Jeff.

    I almost want to hire you just for getting that riff stuck in my head on a Monday morning. (RAWK!)

  2. I agree with you completely. It’s very annoying that Internet Marketing, SEO, Viral, and Social media are perceived as “free” forms of marketing. Nothing is free, budgets are required and need to spent differently than in traditional marketing channels.

    This perception of “free” marketing is sadly reinforced by many people and this makes it far more difficult to change that perception to clients.

  3. I get this tripe in my e-mail as I gave my email addy out to the wrong guy. but they all just go in the trash . It is a shame that so many people are taken in bny these wonderful sounding schemes but that is all they are is schemes . invest and do so wisely and if you have no money to invest them go to work and make some and then after you do that if you want to invest and take a chance with your money then go for it but do so with some sense get some professional help . no ad here just advice don’t bite for you will wind up being bitten .

  4. May be us web analyst experts have in the past been guilty of a little too much hype around what can be done with converson funnel analysis and multi variate testing using tools such as Google Website Optimizer.

    Recently started some experiements with a client expecting to see dramatic improvements in conversion rates.

    Disappointingly all we saw was subtle improvements of a couple of percent here and there. However, we’re keeping going tweaking things here and there and we are making gradual progress.

    But of course it takes developer time and company resources. As Jeffrey says there’s no clicks for free. But we shouldn’t shoot the messenger. Our experience has shown us what elements are important. Often we choose a page element to change in an experiment that ends up having very little effect on conversions. And thats an important lesson to learn – there’s no magic bullet. But sometimes we get it right and the thing we change does shift conversions and that makes it all the investment worthwhile.

  5. Thanks Jeffrey – for reinforcing what I keep, keep, keep telling clients.

    Or, as I’ve written at my blog, “My Magic Marketing Wand is Broken.” Any sales funnel – offline or online – is ultimately only as profitable as: a. the quality of the prospects in the funnel; b. the ability to close the deal; c. The quality of the offer and product.

    I recently had a client who really wanted to get in “social media” – knew that web marketing was critical…and then listened to an ad agency who created a multi-level funnel on the web site that meant people HAD to go through three steps before they even knew what the product was; another two before they bought. Then the client was disappointed it didn’t work.

    P.S. I thought it was “checks” not chicks. But, then I WAS a chick. ;-)

  6. @ Mary- You may be right but young, and not so young, guys heard chicks. ;-)

  7. A prospect wanted to spend $500 per month on a few keywords to see if PPC works. The keywords are between 2.50 and 5.00. I said the same thing as Jeffrey. You can not make promises.

  8. Maybe I’m misreading your lead up, but you seem to be saying Seth and the Copyblogger piece were endorsing the “get rich quick” mentality. In fact, both pieces say there is no quick solution and say success comes from hard work and sound business models.

    Again, I may be mistaken, but from the structure of your article and the language you use, you’re mischaracterizing the content of those two articles. I’m sure it’s unintentional, but I’m not sure how anyone who read the two pieces could make that mistake.

  9. @ Brian – I’m saying the opposite. I apologize if it can be read that way. I meant to say that you, Seth and Mary were all noticing the same phenomenon I did.

  10. Jeff,

    I hope you don’t mind, but in tweeting this post I referred to you as: Jeffrey “I Want My Future Now” Eisenberg. Now I probably owe you a headband, but dare I say it, you struck a powerful chord with this post?

    Seriously, we all know that amazing returns are sometimes possible from small investments (to shift the analogy from music to movies, think Slumdog Millionaire). But to go around promising that which cannot be guaranteed is not a sustainable strategy. Furthermore, it makes life that much more difficult for those who try to keep it real.

    For example, we are finding some great returns for our customers using what might be called “web site personalization” but we hesitate to use that term because for years it was over-sold.

    p.s. A little known Mark Knopfler fact: he graduated from the School of English at the University of Leeds, one year ahead of me.

  11. Oh, I see now… Mary was being sarcastic.

    Sorry, I’m dense on Mondays. :-)

  12. @ Brian – Sorry I wrote it in a way that could be misunderstood. Good intentions are no excuse for poor writing.

  13. @ Stephen – I don’t look good in headbands ;-) I also can’t play guitar.

    AMEN! “…it makes life that much more difficult for those who try to keep it real.”

  14. What I don’t get is that if everyone knows there is no such things as a free lunch, why do people still look for one.

    I work mainly with small business clients and they understand that for web design there will be a fee, but it seems that they think they can magically appear at the top of search engine rankings without any time, effort or money invested.

    I usually get a glazed look when I try to explain that this takes time, effort and money and that it is difficult to outline the results.

  15. No magic bullet ?
    No easy route?
    It takes WORK to see RESULTS ??
    and you won’t make promises …… ( really that one is over the top!!)

    Good title to a great POST!
    Thanks for talking with integrity when so many just think there is such a thing as an “Easy button” for web marketing. That is why I traveled far and paid real $$ to hear you and Bryan for a full day several years ago…. BRAVO!

  16. Yep, it’s darn hard for clients to embrace the fact that this block and tackle game. A few inches forward at a time. The silver bullet is much sexier. And who wouldn’t want to fall in love with the hope that free and easy come wrapped up in the same package, festooned with a glossy bow?

    And by the way, Knopfler is a terrific singer and lyricist but has next to no stage presence, so nobody’s perfect.

  17. Great Article Jeff

  18. I’ve been told I’m repeating myself and saying things “everyone knows” when I talk about the whole “It takes work and time…and there’s no magic” Then I talk to yet another potential client who wants MAGIC, and they WANT IT NOW.

    When I start talking about the boring bits of marketing – planning, implementation, timelines…three months to a year…etc. – they wrinkle their brow, “But, Susan (self-anointed marketing/web expert of the day) told me I could INSTANTLY…” Sigh.

    Rant on – ur – right on!

  19. the exact line from Mark Knopler’s tune read, “checks for free.”

  20. In no way do I condone the magic wand sellers, but many are merely responding to potential customers who, as you say, are begging to be lied to.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done keyword research in the marketing field only to find the results choked with people searching for totally free solutions that will make their businesses money without effort or investment. It’s sad, but a lot of business owners buy into the something for nothing fantasy and many disreputable marketers eagerly exploit them.

  21. I get emails from some guys in the UK with all kinds of things called GOOGLE ANIALATER AND JUST BUY ADDS TO GET $$$ for people clicking. Now something called SHADDOW.

    Also someone in Phillipeans selling web side WordPress templetes with all the coding done. You just use them.


    I am brand new. Duh?

  22. Bravo for one of my favorite titles. I laughed when I read it and immediately clicked on it. An excellent article, as well.

  23. [...] urge you not to stay the course, the times for easy money are over. Sully could have crashed in the middle of NYC, but he stayed calm with effort, some close [...]

  24. “Money for Nothing” indeed! I think you’ve nailed the zeitgeist perfectly.

    If you’ll permit me a quote (about political systems) I think is appropriate:

    “Everyone is looking for a system in which no one has to be any good.” Mohandas Ghandi


  25. [...] expectations for conversion rate improvements. Of course, there will always be those who want their money for nothing but while Bryan has often been a lonely first voice in the wilderness Avinash tends to represent an [...]

  26. [...] green bar, and they wring their hands when they see any yellow or red indicators.  The less-disciplined business will often lose focus at this point and miss out on all the [...]

  27. [...] Money For Nothing & Clicks For Free [...]

  28. Young and naive, I thought it was “money for nothing and checks for free”. I didn’t quite yet understand what a chick was I think. =) great memory!

  29. Most of these messages are targeted at individuals, but it is surprising how many companies adopt this mindset. I like your response to the client – I will keep it as a reminder re how I should respond in similar situations.

  30. And I didn’t know what a chick was back in the 80s :-)

  31. Right on the money Jeffery!

    I’m on the ‘supply side’ of marketing, (we provide displays and designs mainly for exhibitions and trade shows) and you would be amazed at how many marketing and sales directors come to us with a minimal budget and expect miracles to occur!

    The businesses we see getting the most value for the money they spend with us are those that take the time to creatively focus their message and craft a strategy that justifies the budget required to get it across. It may cost you tens of thousands of dollars to create an impressive and flashy expo display (though it is un-focused and as a result ineffectual) but it costs next to nothing to sit down and really think about what it is you want and need your marketing to say and achieve.

    Creativity and planning will get you further than throwing what little money you have away on ‘get rich quick’ consultants!

  32. It is amazing though how relatively cheap online marketing is compared to print or hard copy marketing. Online marketing is a time and effort expense but the world is now online. I think that newspapers are really having a tough time given the advent of search engines and the widespread use of the internet. The main issue though is finding the right marketing company for you, one that is ethical and interested in the long term view rather than the short term quick buck!

  33. It does say money for nothing and the chicks (clicks) for free.
    But the hours of work you spend on your web site and link building tells you it is not actually free.

    Very good post though.

  34. in economics we learn that there is no free lunch, thus, no clicks for free, if you don’t spend money then you will need to invest your time, which is money.

  35. Great Post Jeff

    I think its funny that people might actually still think that you get something for nothing. Everything has its cost its just a matter of what price you are willing to pay

  36. Amen! Brother. jeffrey, you hit the the bulleye on this one.

  37. Your point that if something sounds too good to be true than it is…its dead on. That’s why as marketers it’s so important that we actually get to know our end customer: instead of just talking AT them, let’s talk with them. In my experience in the trade show industry conversions and ROI is extremely important. When you really think about who your end customer is, how they are best marketed to, and what is involved in developing a real marketing campaign you’ll be successful….and to your point: it’s never free, and very rarely is it extremely easy. BUT with logic and planning you can attain your sales goals and increase conversion rates.

  38. I am so tired of hearing people talking about getting rich quick. You are not going to get rich quick, you are more likely to win the lottery. Maybe it is those same kind of people drawn to the internet with quick dreams. It takes hard work, lot’s of hard work. Lot’s of winning and failing before everything works out in the end.

  39. In my experience in the trade show industry conversions and ROI is extremely important. When you really think about who your end customer is, how they are best marketed to, and what is involved in developing a real marketing campaign you’ll be successful…

  40. Money for nothing can be an effective pitch! I don’t know if it will ever die.

  41. In the end hard work is what brings the real rewards

  42. Although I agree with the spirit of the argument, you should point out that there is a huge difference between “get rich quick” schemes and successful people that want to help others to be successful.

    As an example, take Google Adwords guru Perry Marshall. After trying to use Adwords to promote a product and getting $1-2 minimums per click (which is ridiculous) we bought a $49 pdf ebook, Marshall’s adword guide and within a week had clicks way down a profitable level and our product succeeded. This scenario is repeated 1000′s of times a day with dozens of “gurus” that pull back the curtains for business people without charging $1000′s per month for the privilege. The trick is being able to identify the good guys from the bad, and that’s just hard.

  43. i also like the dire straits song a lot, but i guess getting rich quick is about as illusionary as being a rockstar on mtv!

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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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