Free Entertainment does not have to be FREE
I, like many people, look at sales papers, and periodically I stumble on the word free. It is a simple little word that many charitable organizations toss around. Some people presume that just because you offer something, free everyone should take it. With that logic, you would be able to give away swim suites to Alaskan Mountain Men in the dead of winter. Sign me up for my 352nd credit card to get a free shirt. It is not going to happen.
Free is an adjective that modifies nouns, so there is no cover charge when people say this is a free event. People can donate their time, but there is a cost. Lost time with family and friends, supplies are used, costs are involved? Somebody had to buy something? Where did the money come from to get these things?
Knowing how to extract the benefits out of free is what you need to understand if you want to give a service away for free. Free does not mean free. It just means somebody is giving you something they have already budgeted for, so it seems free to them.
6 Tips to Putting a Monetary Value on Free
- Can you barter a service for service? This is one of the oldest and acceptable forms of payment. Never overlook a chance to swap knowledge and skills.
- Become a Sponsor – Sponsors are people or companies who are paying to be part of the event. Swap service for sponsor status. The organization will not rename the event after you or your company, but you will be entitled to all the benefits of sponsorship. Sponsors are VIP’s and they receive perks, which you should be entitled too.
- Get a Detailed List of Sponsor Contracts – This is gold – knowing the people who are financially committed to a cause typical sponsor other events. This is a great way to get your foot in the door with other business and organizations.
- Promotional Pictures/Video – It is nearly impossible to get pictures of an event or even action shot that you can use for marketing. Require pictures be taken in lieu of payment. This is only possible if the event has a professional photographer. You do not want Aunt Jody’s home pictures, you what professional quality shots. Arrangement can be made to take two dozen shots before the start of the event. Get posed action shots, close-ups, and creative shots that can be used for future marketing.
- Require Assistance – VIP and paid acts get support, request the same. Just because you may be giving your time for free, does not mean you have to be treated like a nobody. Request people to help in setup, breakdown, and line control. Follow up weeks prior to ensure people are scheduled to assist you. Make them treat you like a VIP, but do not be a premadona. You are seeking respect, not demigod status.
- Get the Arrangement in Writing with a Bill – State clearly in the cover letter that the following terms have been agreed on – use bullet points for options. This way any idiot can see what they need to provide. Enclose a billing stating, if the agreed arrangement cannot be met, please make a check payable too, in the amount of… This drives home the fact that they have an “agreement” and need to meet their obligation, otherwise they need to cut you a check.
I think free is when you have given up making calls, sending out fliers, networking, soliciting family and friends, and then I will think about offering my services for free. I like to let free be for the events I want to donate to. For all others, I will hit them up for a fee.
For all those who want it free – sit down with the Sunday paper, make a list of all the major companies/stores, and see how many of these places give things away for free. You may see buy one get one free, but free? Nothing is for free. Please read the fine print; you have to give something up to get it free.