There I was, enjoying my deviled eggs, mac & cheese, and every other type of food that probably shouldn’t be sitting out all day in warm weather, when I heard an interesting story about reputation management.

Granted, Tennessee family reunions normally consist of tales of 10-point bucks that got away, summers playing in creeks, and how uncle “so and so” first met “your aunt southern belle.” When the story of reputation, credibility, and the effect of giving away something for free, came up, I was as shocked as anyone.

Here’s how the story was told:

When a particular family member had some kittens to give away, they placed a big sign outside their home that read:

free-kittens

And precisely no one came to their door to collect their free kitten. Nil, nadda, zip!

So, with a little ingenuity, they changed the sign to read:

five-dollar-kittens

And, guess what happened? A lady knocked on their door and asked if they would take $10 for 3 kittens. ;-)

When you offer something for free, people get suspicious. Potential customers wonder if there’s a catch. Is something wrong with the kittens? Why are they being given away? Why haven’t they already found homes? Add a nominal price tag, and all of a sudden, you’ve created credibility. These kittens now have value. The lady that took home 3 of them, could have previously gotten then for free, but instead, found greater value in paying $10.

Free can be good–especially as a means to upgrade someone to a paid product, but very often you build your credibility by demonstrating the value of your product or service–or kittens.

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