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What do you charge for? Or do you give back to the community when you can?

Ben Lumley - Friday, December 11, 2009
What things do you charge for? What's your reaction when someone asks to do something a little bit different with your product or service? Are you receptive to something out of the ordinary or do you flatly refuse without a second thought?

We took our two daughters to see Santa this week at the local tourist attraction. Joining the queue I marvelled at all of the added extras that Santa was offering apart from having to pay for a 1 minute sitting with the big man himself. Not only did the man in red want me to pay for my daughters to see him but photos, rides on his sleigh, and drinks for parents were all added extras. Fair enough I get that. It was a local event run by local organisations so the pull of all that potential money must of been huge. I get that. I understand. I have no problem with paying for kids to see Santa and may even stretch to the odd added extra if I'm in a good mood.

My problem with today's little festive outing was that if I wanted to take a picture of my kids with the special man I couldn't, I had to let the (so called) professional photographer take the photo and then in order to take it away with me I had to pay for it. The reason given for this was child protection. By not allowing me to photograph my own children they were ensuring that my daughters were being protected. The real reason however wasn't protection but revenue generation. Someone from the organising committee had obviously twigged that it would be a nice little earner to charge for taking memories away from the event.

What has this got to do with running an online business? Well go back to the three questions I asked right at the start of this post. Do you charge for absolutely everything you can or are you more relaxed and give something away for free? If someone comes to you with a suggestion of how they could use your product or service a bit differently are you excited or do you flatly refuse?

Look at Twitter. They built a platform and then opened it up to the world of developers to allow them to create some amazing applications using the API. Rather than keeping things close to their chest they said "look we've got this great platform come and have a play and build something cool with it." Most importantly they did it for free.

Gone are days when you can run an effective business online, especially a small online business and not even consider giving something back to your community. If you charge for absolutely everything and give nothing back to the community that surrounds your products and services then your customers will find someone else who does.

So how can you do that?

1. Free trials
2. Discounts for renewing subscriptions
3. Seasonal offers and discounts
4. Offer free advice via a blog
5. Offer limited offers to email subscribers
6. Share relevant links via Twitter
7. Offer savings for bulk buys
8. Price match or price promise
9. Free gifts
10. Free consultation sessions
11. Freephone customer services number
12. 24/7 support

These are just some of things you can do to give back to your customers. Do you do any of these or do you see the benefit of charging for everything you can? Let us know in the comments
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Getafe coach Michael Laudrup confirmed on Friday he will be leaving the Primera Liga club this summer.Speculation has been rife in Spain that Laudrup would call time on his stint at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez after just one season, with the Dane being linked to a number of other clubs in recent weeks.And at Friday's press conference ahead of Sunday's league-ending home match against Real Betis, Laudrup, who had one year left on his contract, said: "It has been a great experience, it feels like I have not spent only eight or nine months here, but much more time."He continued: "I said that while we had not secured our Primera Liga status I was not going to say anything, and that we all had to look in the same direction."Now that we are safe it is normal that everyone looks a little towards themselves."I already told the president (Angel Torres) on Thursday that I had finished my cycle at the club, or call it what you will, so that the president and the club have the maximum time to look for a replacement."I told him that I was very grateful for giving me the opportunity."Laudrup took over Getafe last summer following Bernd Schuster's move to champions Real Madrid and, after a difficult start, the former Denmark international led the club to one of their best-ever seasons.In the club's first sortie into Europe, Getafe reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals before losing in heart-breaking circumstances to Bayern Munich, while they also reached their second successive Copa del Rey final before losing to Valencia.There are reports that Valencia are one of the club's looking at Laudrup, along with the likes of Galatasaray, Chelsea, Sevilla and Manchester City.




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