Did you hear this?
About the London Marathon runner, and the imposter who nicked his place?
Twas in all the papers. This runner got through 24 miles. He’d pounded the streets…pushed through “The Wall”…and he could almost sniff the finishing tape…
But then, disaster – his label blew away.
You know that label they all wear? With their race number? It fell off, and blew into the crowd.
Okay – no problem, you’d think. A spectator would hand it back. Race officials would understand. Surely?
Nope. He got pulled out of the race.
While some nearby scumbag picked up his label, and clutched it to his own chest. Then sprinted off to the finishing line – fresh as anything, because he’d skipped that little 24-mile “warm-up”!
And then? Insult to injury: the scumbag accepted a medal! Posed with it, and got his face in the official photos. Then refused to hand it back when he was rumbled – because he wanted to show off his achievement!
Now I don’t know about you, but I find this a tad worrying…
See, as an ageing fogey who’s starting to say “Ee, it weren’t like that in my day”, I can’t help thinking…this is where we’re heading now:
A world of “NO GUTS, ALL GLORY”. Where a growing chunk of people expect to gain without pain.
They “deserve” the quick-fix. Because, well…why should they go the long way round?
It’s the X-Factor syndrome. No apprenticeship, no years of practice – just show up at one audition and voila – instant fame!
You see it in Air Guitar Contests and Lip Sync Battles: “Gimme applause that someone else earned!”
And in business, you get it with serial affiliates. People who add no value – just want to get rich off someone else’s back.
So is this rant going somewhere?
Yeah, kind of. It’s like this…
We live in Freeloader Land now. Something for nothing is the norm. And in marketing, that has big fat hairy implications.
For years, the word has been “give someone a freebie and the Law of Reciprocity kicks in” – i.e. they’ll feel beholding to you, and reward you with a sale.
Not any more.
Not in this lazy, entitled new world.
Give them a report, a sample, a free trial, time out of your day…whatever. They won’t feel honour-bound. Hell, they’ll feel they’re doing you a favour!
So if you want reciprocity, and the leverage that comes with it, you’ve got to go way further than before.
BUT for the sake of your business – do it without looking desperate. And without giving up time or margin.
How do you strike that balance?
Well, that’s the new Epic Challenge. And it’s going to grow and grow over the next few years…as more customers demand more free stuff before they’ll even think of buying.
So, my question: how will you survive in the new Freeloader Age that’s dawning?
How will you adapt – when every customer wants a medal for a race they didn’t run?
Something to chew on…