By Rags Srinivasan, management professional
“We are now seeing the end of the freemium model — signing up users for free and trying to upsell,” said Christian Vanek, CEO of the Boulder-based SurveyGizmo, in a recent phone conversation.
“6.5 million unique users is not all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t want hits. I want revenue. I want a real business,” said Matt Wensing, founder and CEO of Stormpulse, in an interview with Mixergy.
“Make a product people want to pay for,” said Marco Arment, founder of Instapaper, in a Planet Money interview.
Three easily available examples do not make indisputable evidence against freemium. Just like Dropbox, Evernote and RememberTheMilk do not make a case for freemium. But these three quotes reflect a return to the roots of marketing — starting with customer needs, choosing the needs you want to serve and getting your fair share of the value created.
In the oft-cited Hershey’s experiment that started the free-mania, behavioral economists from MIT tested customer preference for Hershey’s and Ferrero Rocher chocolates at two different price points. For one group, they offered Hershey’s at one cent and Ferrero Rocher for 26 cents. For another, they offered the chocolates at zero cents and 25 cents respectively. When the Hershey’s chocolate was free and the Ferrero Rocher chocolate was 25 cents, 90 percent of the participants chose Hershey’s. $0 price seems to have done the magic in driving customer adoption. The result became the foundation of the freemium school of thought — free is free marketing. First use the free version to drive adoption and build a large customer base, and then find ways to monetize that base by upselling the paid version and selling extras.
Ninety percent is an eye-catching statistic in books about the freemium model, but let’s stop and ask some basic questions about running a profitable venture.
- What do you know about your target customers?
- What urgent needs do the free and paid versions meet for these customers?
- Will the products remain relevant in the customers’ future?
- If fifty other sellers stand next to you and give away free Hershey’s chocolates, Skittles etc., what will happen to your share of the market?
- As a startup founder, which customers should you focus on first with your limited resources?
The five questions above are the key principles of marketing… Sigue leyendo