The big music labels and filmmaking companies have really struggled with this one. It doesn’t seem to make business sense to let people listen to music free on Pandora or watch movies and shows free on Hulu. Yet it builds the brand and creates more buyers. Social media has inverted many traditional models, and it’s the indie market that’s proving that the economics work… for the most part.

Let me take this one step further. In Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni tells the tale of a consulting company that never sells. Rather than tell a client what they’ll do if they are hired, they start serving as if they are already hired. Sure, they’re opening themselves to being taken advantage of as they give away the goods, but Lencioni says 9 times out of 10, the client appreciates the generosity. They get a good feel for whether the product is what they really want, and they get a feel for whether your people are the ones they really want to work with. Lencioni didn’t just make this up; it’s his own company’s secrets he’s sharing.

As I learned early on from one of Atlanta’s public relations gurus, always add value. Everything you do or everything you send out should bring value to the person receiving it. We demonstrated it by offering free tips in all of our mailers. Yet every direct mail piece we sent out brought in a client.

My left brain can’t figure it out, but any time we’re open-handed, we end up with more than if we’re close-fisted. My pastor likes to say you can never outgive God. As you give away the things he gives you, he keeps giving you more. It’s not just a spiritual principle. I learned early on that generosity can be good business.

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