Can you really buy a free product too expensive? Here’s a funny question. Well if we stick to the Larousse definition of the free term: “which we enjoy without paying”; probably not. On the other hand, if you attach more importance to the business definition than to the semantic definition, I have the pretension and the hope (especially the hope in fact … ^^) that this article will interest you …

It’s still great to pay nothing …

So of course there is no such thing as true gratuitousness. In any creation of value, there is always someone who pays or something to give (usually data)!

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But we will ignore this article, because here we will only talk about “free money”. The one where you don’t pay with money to get what you want.

Free has a really nice side. It is true that enjoying something without having to pay for it is rather pleasant!

This feeling of comfort offered by free is probably due to the fact that there are no or few questions to ask … Free is the fatal objection!

  • Is this product good? “At worst it will cost you nothing”!
  • Is it really worth it? “You don’t risk anything trying!” “
  • Is this product better than the others? “Start with this one, it’s free!” “
  • Etc.

If I make this observation, it is because the price is often the main factor of decision when it comes to choosing a product. It’s not always (Praise be to God) THE factor, the SINGLE. But it is undoubtedly one of the most important, whatever the sector and the product sold (with a few exceptions … of course!).

Free above the value!

Yes but here, if there is a certain comfort in choosing the free, is there really an interest?

Most likely for companies whose business model is based on Freemium. What is the point of choosing a paid formula from a solution if the free formula is enough for you ???

On the other hand, when it comes to comparing two solutions proposed by two different companies, there is debate …

If the majority will favor the free option (at least at the beginning) it is for one and BAD reason: it is free!

In fact, being free makes you forget why you choose a product: For the solution it brings us.

I mainly see 3 major concerns with this phenomenon:

  1. We no longer buy a solution to a problem but “an attractive offer”. (In this case, the probability of crashing is huge) ;
  2. This destroys the market’s perceived value of the product;
  3. This damages the image of the provider who charges.

Now that the general idea has been raised, I suggest you illustrate it with an example that is dear to me: Website creation.

The convincing example of site creation …

AAAA the website market… I’m talking here about websites for local businesses, on a human scale, craftsmen, traders, freelancers… in short, the website market for very small businesses!

As the founder of a web marketing agency specializing in VSEs / SMEs, I pretend to know him a little, at least on my scale.

Surely not as a theorist but rather as a practitioner. I do not look in detail what he says on the canvas, I also did not analyze dozens of research articles on the subject (although I devoted my MASTER thesis to digital adoption by VSEs / SMEs), but I live it every day in contact with my customers, prospects, collaborators and partners.

So much for the blah about the “legitimacy” that I have to write the following lines. I know that some are very sensitive to it. 😉

But back to our sheep: the damage of free on the market of websites for VSEs / SMEs.

For this example, we will take 2 concrete cases, that of my friend WIX (which I eulogize right here) and that of the web marketing agency that I co-founded: T2Oplus. Not to shed light on me but to give precise, concrete elements that I master perfectly and not fall into generality.

We choose the free solution only because it is free

Price is an element of the marketing mix, so it is a lever to make a difference compared to its competitors. However, this does not in any way constitute the value produced.

Now compare the promise of Wix and that of T2Oplus:

  • Wix says, ” Mister client, I promise you thatwith Wix you can create a free website that freely resembles you. “;
  • T2Oplus says: ” Mister client, I promise you thatwith T2Oplus you will make the web the engine of your business development. “.

If we can debate for hours on the veracity of such and such a promise and on their marketing significance, there is one thing that does not deceive. Wix chooses to communicate mainly about the free nature of its product. The company believes (and I personally believe it is right) that its main asset lies in one characteristic: its free nature. Conversely T2Oplus, directs its promise towards the value produced and the solution provided.

There is no right or wrong in this story. We will simply remember that free is the main value of Wix.

The price is not a value. It’s just what the customer pays, not what they get.

Unless, ultimately, what the client seeks is precisely this gratuitousness …

For the customer, a website no longer has value

How much does a website cost? I am used to answering this question with “It depends on the number of prospects you want it to bring in”.

You see how focused I am on the value I bring to my client. Well, this value in the eyes of the customer no longer exists.

Ask how much a site costs to someone who is in a buying position or who could be: a merchant, a craftsman, etc. He doesn’t really know, what he does know is that it’s free (it must be said that Wix does more advertising than T2Oplus ^^).

The client does not know the content of a website service, the service of a web agency and that of Wix is ​​completely different, its content also, it may seem obvious. But in absolute terms for a client, it is always the same it is a website!

The answers I get (when you want to give me one) are as follows: 500 €? 800 €? Less than 1000?

500 € seriously? But what service do we expect for 500 €?

At the cost of a craftsman (who makes up the majority of T2Oplus’ client portfolio), it’s roughly half a day’s work. Does a site in half a day seem feasible to you?

Objectively it is clear that no …

But what is interesting in this observation is that my service has no more value. We don’t care what is inside this service, we don’t care what we are looking for, what matters is how much we will pay!

It’s a big mistake for me! Personally I have a price and when I am told ” it’s too expensive “, I answer politely” that below, Mister client, I am not capable of producing any added value …

Are my prices too high? Perhaps. I’m losing markets? Maybe also. However, I must constantly defend the value of my service because it no longer exists. Not mine personally that of my job as a “web marketer” and it is probably not the only one in this case.

The big bad web agency that sucks!

It’s funny that detestable reputation agencies have. Sometimes I feel like I have founded a political party ^^ …

To be honest and it won’t really fuel my thesis, I don’t particularly feel animosity on the ground. On the canvas, however, some people let go…

Hidden behind the term “Uberization”, they consider that the agencies seek to conserve their very numerous advantages and their significant income by decrying the gratuitousness …

Let’s start with the price of a site. As much as being transparent, at T2Oplus a showcase site very rarely exceeds € 4,000. We are far from € 15,000 for a 5-page site (see below).

€ 15,000 no but seriously…

Some fantasize about exorbitant amounts of maintenance… As if the directors of VSEs / SMEs paid € 4,000 of annual maintenance… These amounts exist, they are sometimes sometimes excessive but not on the market which we are talking about.

maintaining a small site does not cost € 4,000 per month
€ 48,000 / year for maintenance? In a VSE? Well let’s see …

Others, hidden behind the term “Uberization”, see web agencies as representing the old world. Why ? Because we provide a service that potentially and thanks to online platforms you would be able to do on your own?

One of two things:

First, to make people believe that it is easy to create a site and make it work is a lie. So we don’t do the same job.

Then, I will repeat word for word the comment of a certain Fabien, whom I salute: ” We can surely all change the exhaust pipe of our car (there must be 8 screws). You can just as easily change either your front door or your Velux window. You shouldn’t be surprised that we make shit …

I love this analogy

All this to restore a quick truth: web agencies are not organizations of thieves who seek to take their pockets. An agency produces value for its client. This value at a price is what the customer pays.

Please don’t confuse price and value!

“The price is what you pay, the value is what you get”.

So there you are, some 1800 words later, we are at the last paragraph of this article.

It may be time to summarize it in a simple and paradoxical concept: free can be expensive! Even more shocking: A free product can be more expensive than a 5 euro product! Eh yes.

Quite simply, because the price has nothing to do with value. Too often we describe a product as expensive because its price is high. But it is a mistake, a product can only be described as expensive if and only if the value it brings is less than its price. A product sold cheaper can therefore prove to be more expensive …

I lost you? Here are 2 concrete examples to illustrate my thinking:

  • When Manchester United bought Anthony Martial in Monaco for 80 million. All the specialists unanimously said: It is expensive!
    But if ManU wins the LDC and Martial scores 2 heads in the final. Is it still expensive?

Here the value is greater than the price. So it’s not expensive!

  • In another form, if a website costs you 3000 euros and it earns you 6000 €. Is it really expensive?

Again the value is greater than the price. We can not say that a site at 3000 € is expensive. In any case not as long as it brings you 6000 €.

The price means nothing, only the value matters!

As you can see, throughout this article I have been playing with words.

But if you took the trouble to read it to the end, you probably understood two things:

  1. A free product is not necessarily cheap, it all depends on the value it brings you in return …;
  2. Free delivery leads to a drop in the perceived value of the product concerned and therefore ultimately to a drop in the quality of the services provided.

Please note this article is not an attack on free services. It simply aims to put an end to conventional wisdom which consists in saying that since it costs nothing it is better. Sometimes this is true, but not always!

Finally, I believe that “buying price” is dangerous for entrepreneurs.

Worse, this is one of the main reasons that cause them to fail online.

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