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Understanding What FREE Really Means

Understanding What FREE Really Means

One of the first things you learn in business school is the TNSTAAFL principle. TNSTAFFL stands for “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”, and it’s a reminder that anytime someone purports to be giving you something, they’re expecting to realize a benefit from their act. We’ve all heard about the “free” weekend getaway trip that comes with a bonus aggressive sales pitch to buy a timeshare vacation home – maybe you’ve even gotten roped into that fun experience yourself. I’m here to tell you that things aren’t really all that different in digital spaces.

Facebook is Free – and You Get What You Pay For

It’s absolutely true that any business owner can set up a Facebook page for free. There’s no charge to set up your profile and post content. It’s possible with time and hard work to create a sizeable organic following on Facebook – many businesses have. But there’s a real limit to what’s available for free. Facebook’s algorithms currently prioritize posts from a user’s friends and family over that shared by business pages. Even great content can only enjoys so much reach.

To counter this, Facebook is more than happy to take your advertising dollars, either for promoted posts or display advertising. The reason for this is simple: Facebook is a business. Their revenue comes from advertising, particularly mobile advertising. Facebook sells access to users’ timelines, and you’re the user. If you’re not Facebook’s customer, you’re their product.

Ever Want to be a Beta Tester? You’re In Luck!

Without fail, there will be a new app, website or social media platform launching every week. Each one offers amazing features and functions, and most offer users a free account. People who sign up in the earliest days often are the first to share helpful commentary about what the new offering does well and what needs improvement. Smart developers use these insights to enhance and augment their offerings, often incorporating the upgrades into new service tiers users have to pay for.

Bear in mind that a developer can learn a lot about your experience with their product even if you never tell them. Analytic reports detail how much time you spend engaged with the content, what actions you take, and more. If this has you feeling uncomfortably like a lab rat, all we can say is at least you’re not paying for the privilege.

[Tweet “Don’t trust any critical aspect of your operation to a free version of a tool.”]

A Note About the Free Versions of Enterprise Level Business Tools

Many cloud-based business tools offer free versions of their service. These can be an ideal way to test out a product and see if it’s right for your company – the digital equivalent of taking a car for a test drive before agreeing to purchase it – but can come with either a time limit, after which you need to upgrade to the paid version before continuing to use the tool, or significantly limited functionality. It is not a good idea to trust any critical aspect of your operation to a free version of a tool: should the company decide to discontinue what is essentially a marketing campaign for their product, you’ll need to scramble for a replacement and you could lose valuable data.

Making Free Work for You

You know why free things appeal to you. Keep that in mind when crafting campaigns to attract customer attention. Free offers are often for informational products, such as a white paper, buyer’s guide, style checklist or similar type of content that the customer finds valuable; you offer that up in the expectation that you’ll get a benefit out of it – generally, permission to add the person to your contact list for future marketing efforts.

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Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

Design, Photography, Illustration, Digital Imagery Manipulation, Wesbite Development

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, HTML/CSS, Wordpress


Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Facebook Creator Studio, Instagram, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Emma Mail, Google Data Studio, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Office