Rock DJ part 2: Free is better than a cover charge
Social media and the web in general is full of debate over pay walls, charges and monetisation strategies. How do we continue to acquire and grow our communities while equally maximising any potential income? This is not a new problem. I first found myself in the middle of such a dilemma back in my nightclub days and it has coloured my opinion on charging for content ever since.
When we first started running The Pit out of DJs Nightspot in Gosford, it was free entry. Thursday nights had always been notoriously quiet in Gosford - crikey, even most weekends resembled a ghost town - so there were no high expectations and we were on a trial.
The club was packed. That first year was the best we ever saw in five years of running The Pit and it became the place to be every Thursday night. We weren't the only free venue, but we were the only one that provided that particular music. Free just helped the new night grow and spread that much quicker.
After a year or so, the manager wanted a change. He had noticed that some were coming every week but weren't buying drinks. He wasn't making any money off some of the crowd that came through the door and they were enjoying dancing to a DJ he still had to pay. Remember, he's never made so much money off Thursday nights before, but the thought of some people getting a free ride was too much.
So the manager added a door charge. Two dollars at first, it had grown to five dollars by the end. It might not seem like much, but it was enough to see the crowd start to drift away. Those who would casually come in on a Thursday for a free bit of fun - cashless students and bear-footed hippies - no longer came. And so their friends who had been buying drinks didn't either. Less people in the club meant less atmosphere and buzz meant less people came back every week and less new people discovered the club.
The difference wasn't huge and it wasn't overnight, but the door charge was the clear before-and-after point that marked the downturn. As the crowd declined the door charge increased to offset the difference and eventually the night was finished.
Placing any obstacle to admission, no matter how trivial, can dramatically reduce numbers. David Meerman Scott talks frequently in books and talks of how Mailer Mailer multiplied downloads of their ebook - The Email Marketing Metrics Report - twenty times, merely by removing the need to enter an email address. That's right, even entering an email address - significantly less hassle than paying two dollars - is enough to prevent people from accessing your content.
The Mailer Mailer website is now listed at number one in Google for the valuable keyword phrase email marketing metrics, their industry. Now, you can't tell me there's no financial return on being the top listing in Google for your industry.
Free is the greatest acquisition tool you can have. Even if you can't convert a return out of every crowd member you acquire this way, chances are you're still making more than if you charged a couple of bucks at the door.
CHAMPION IN FOCUS
Company: Self Employed
Position: Storyteller, writer and marketer
The name's Crossfield. Jonathan Crossfield. Known widely online as Kimota! Content marketer, digital communications strategist and ruthless word wrangler. Some folk say I rant a lot, but someone's gotta put the rest of you straight!
Latest Articles by Jonathan
30 Days: 0 articles, 0 views
All time: 0 articles, 0 views
ABOUT JONATHAN'S COMPANY
Practical skills and effective strategies for leadership excellence in the dynamic and evolving records and information management environment.
Financial Management tools and techniques to strategically manage life-cycle costs and optimise asset management outcomes for the long term.
Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in APS 5-6 level roles and beyond.
Develop and refine core skills and key leadership capability to achieve success and excel in NSW Grade 9-10 level roles and beyond.
An engaging learning platform to enhance your effectiveness as a policy-leader in the complex and dynamic Public Sector environment.
Q Ltd owns a group of specialist interactive advertising and digital marketing communication companies that help businesses identify, target and communicate effectively with their target market.
Providing Strategic Web Solutions. We specialise in website design and website development, web applications and a range of e-marketing services.
First Rate is a leading online marketing agency and are specialists in search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing and banner advertising.
Reactive is an award-winning digital agency that provides digital strategy, user experience, web design and development services, offering creative excellence and technical innovation in the online space.
Full-service global publication relations agency with specialists in digital PR as well as in a range of other areas.