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Can you give it away and make more money?

The other day I took my video camera to Best Buy. I was looking for a microphone to add to it as well as a stand. By the way, I didn’t buy it at Best Buy but you can always find an associate that will help. I usually ask, “Who’s the  best electronic person in the store?” and someone comes running. Being confident is at least 1/2 the sales game. A confident and friendly sales person is what most customers are looking for when they shop. He booted up his computer to tell me that a microphone wasn’t available for my camera , but he offered to print me out the instruction book, which was, of course, long gone. I asked about my flip camera, which I carry with me all the time just in case. We talked about it’s resolution as well as the  new wireless flips. As a side note, if you’re doing a closeup interview the flip is great; it also takes still photos which are better than your phone photos. If you’re taking serious videoing, it should be  done with a high definition Camcorder. I asked if there were classes available, so people like me can learn how to use what they buy.  He said they tried. They even offered to let the customers shop before the store opened and gave them the employee discount. The problem? No one came for the classes.   I see different types of training in various Best Buy stores  but nothing live in  Crossgate Mall, in Guilderland, New York. Maybe they didn’t try it long enough or put out enough publicity?

The other night I awakened at 4am and turned on the television. I started watching the Home Channel Shopping and there was the best pitch man selling my flip camera. I got up, grabbed my camera and watched while they walked me through every phase of the camera; it was so close up I thought I was on the show. They also shot a video, played the sound and showed the final  so I could see how it sounded and looked. I actually bought my nine inch Dell mini computer during one 3AM show!  I love it and by the time I received it I knew about it’s idiosyncrasies.

When you call the Home Shopping Network they make you feel like family; they encourage calls and ask if you’re a “regular”. Now you know you’re family.

What does this mean for your business? Is there a market for the “do-it-your-selfer?” Can you show the customer how to do simple installations of your products?

If you’re selling kitchen appliances, can you hold a cooking demonstration show to sell your wares?

How about a design clinic for your floors, walls and window treatments?

Are you a mechanic? How about a clinic on “car noises”, what to look out for like the Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers?

If you’re in the floral business, how about teaching the customer to design a simple holiday wreath?

There’s an interesting concept called “Freemium”. The Freemium model works off the premise that you give a way big stuff.  To some extent, The Freemium business model goes against what many of us have been taught. We’ve been taught to give away “little stuff” in hopes that the customer will come back for the “big stuff.” (Skype) is the best example of this business model, connecting millions of us with online video telephone connections  around the world. The site also offers a “premium service” at a fairly low rate. This is truly a great service. How many people use Skype? According to WikiAnswers , there are approximately 480 million people using Skype and 42 million making daily phone calls! Skye sells video cameras, phones, computer-to-land minutes and tons of other stuff. They make a ton of profit just from offering part of their basic service for free!

If you get a minute check out the Freemium model and see if it can help your business.  Remember giving customers what they want is true red hot customer service and great customer service is how you  build your competitive advantage. Why not make money too?

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