Cell Phone

We marketers are a creative crowd. Through our work, we can inspire people to join a movement, make a candidate win or simply buy a product or service.

However, there are marketers that like to “stretch the truth” at their convenience. Oddly enough, they are the ones that usually have long disclaimers via “fine print” that just contribute to send the profession’s image even closer to the bottom. Please note, however, that I’m not talking about spammers, “multi-level” promoters or the like; I’m talking about the “geniuses” at companies like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint with their “FREE Smartphone**” or “Buy one Windows Phone, Get One Free**”. I’m also talking to the creators of the “FREE $50 Gift card with your purchase”** or “FREE financial plan” (when you buy high commission, high expense financial products from me).

Of course, that kind of advertising appeals to the “emotional” side. Who wouldn’t like to get a phone for free? That excitement about the opportunity of getting a free phone is destroyed via the fine print (or voiceover disclaimer in the case of radio ads), and that’s when you realize that there’s really no “free lunch” (or phone).

The same happens with promotions like “FREE $150 gift card with your purchase” (wait 6-8 waits for delivery, participation required) and even with “free ebook-article-whitepaper” (just give me your name and email). All these “promotions” have strings attached. All of them are conditional of something: you give me something I value (like your email address for the ebook or your purchase of a $2,500, 2 year plan for the free phone) and I’ll give you something you value (a phone or an ebook). An exchange, a transaction.

Free means free. No strings attached. I give you my opinion and you decide if its worth it for you to read it or not. Bloggers like Leo Babauta shares his experiences in looking for “Zen” to his thousands of readers expecting nothing in return.

It is time for a less cynical, less transactional world. It is time for a world where “free” really means free.  It is time for a world where clarity, honesty, and truthfulness reign over “stretched” truths, disclaimers and legalese. In short, it is time for a world more human and less corporate.

Thank you to Seth Godin for the inspiration for this.