I LOVE FREE.
Free white papers, free webinars, free registration, free food. Mmmmm. What’s so bad about free?
Well, students and interns can’t live on free. Just as you live in a heated/air conditioned 3000 square foot home, eat freshly cooked food, and choose a beautiful outfit from your full closet everyday, students and interns also have to pay rent, fill stomachs, and clothe bodies. And their bank accounts aren’t happy like yours. Their bank accounts begin with a delightful character those of us in the numbers business like to call the negative sign. Promises of great work experience and a chance of future employment don’t feed and clothe and house them. Pay your interns a living wage. Every intern. Every time.
If the work you need performed is so important that it MUST be done and you MUST find someone to do it and that person can’t be your adorable six year nephew, then the work has value. Value is not expressed through free tweets of thanks, $10 Best Buy gift cards, $4 coffees, or $8 lunches. If you need work done, it has value which needs to be exchanged for actual, real money.
It doesn’t matter whether the value exchange is money for product or money for service. Knowledge does not appear out of nowhere. As the quote goes (can you tell me who said this please?), a piece of art may have taken 1 hour to create, but it grew out of 30 years of dedicated life experiences, training, education, successes, and failures. That piece of artwork took 30 years to create. The expertise of professionals is no different. The unique skills and knowledge they developed took years of dedicated effort, not simply the 30 minutes you chatted over a $4 coffee. If this seems a little odd, then have a look at the video below. I chuckle every time I watch it even though it’s the reality that many people live in.
I have been asked to work for companies for free, more frequently now that I am a free agent in hunting mode (Got a lead on a crazy cool research position? Hit me up!). And, even though my fridge is full, my home is heated, and my closet is full of mismatched clothes that I thought were perfect in the store (Oh, how I hate shopping for clothes!), I generally say no. Why? Because I don’t work for companies that have earnings, budgets, and finance departments for free. A company’s desire for a great deal, the best price, a real bargain does not match up with my priorities.
However, if you are an unemployed market researcher and can’t afford to have someone review and edit your resume. cover letter, or LinkedIn profile page, I am totally there for you. Need advice and guidance to submit your first ever speaking proposal to a conference? I’m there for you. Fighting with your Imposter Syndrome? I’m there for you again. This is where I prefer to spend my ‘free’ time. Ask me for help.
Read this far? Like what you read? Hire me! I’m looking for a permanent family where I can practice as a research methodologist and educator specializing in survey design and analysis, data quality, and innovative methods. I am an invited speaker at research conferences around the world and have published numerous refereed and industry articles. My awards include a 2015 Ginny Valentine Award, 2014 MRIA Award of Outstanding Merit, and 2013 ESOMAR Best Methodological Paper. I wrote People Aren’t Robots, a questionnaire design book. Plus I’m fun, cool, and still play the ukulele pretty poorly after 2 years of instruction.
- Family Membership at your local art gallery or museum where you can appreciate the cultural diversity and wonders of our world as a family.
- Classes. Art or music or sign language or dancing or that embarrassing thing they’ve always been too scared to sign up for because people will laugh at them. Dungeons and Dragons sessions? Absolutely!
- Tickets to an event they won’t splurge on. A concert, a play, a weird-ass art installation, a sporting event.
- Charitable donations to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. For me, that means a mental health service and a crohns and colitis foundation. And a recent addition, a refugee settling organization.
- A really nice winter coat that isn’t their size. Or a really nice business suit in the wrong size. We have have coats and work clothes don’t we. Bring these new ones to a homeless shelter because those folks can’t just go out buy whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it.
- Homemade gifts like pancake mixes, bread, ready-to-cook meals, bird houses, paintings, mittens, and hats.
- Homemade gift certificates for an on-demand neck massage, leaf raking, snow shoveling, home manicure, or some other chore that they always do for you.
- A middle-aged shelter dog. Do you have bunches of love left to give? Do you need to exercise more? Should you spend more time with the kiddies? Make it a three-for-one deal.
Bonus gift: Membership in an industry organization. In marketing research, there are literally hundreds of choices and as much as we’d like to join all of them, most of us only join two or three. Try the MRIA in Canada, or MRA/CASRO/TheARF in the USA, MRS in the UK, AMSRS or RANZ in the pacific region, or ESOMAR globally.
Why? Because most of us don’t NEED anything. We have food on the table, clothes in our closets, and warm homes to go to every day. We don’t need more stuff. Just more love.
According to the 60 Second Marketer, the following sentence is the most powerful and effective sentence you will ever read.
I have new research results to prove I’ve discovered a free and easy way for you to guarantee love, improve your health and safety, and save money now.
Apparently, 14 words have been identified as more likely to tap into our emotional centers and trigger unconscious thoughts and feelings. If you do a little introspection, you can feel the emotions in yourself as you consider each word.
Well, that’s just fine and dandy. But how can we use this to our advantage?
- Blog titles with these words will likely have higher click through rates.
- TV commercials using these words will likely have higher recall
- Newspapers ads with these words will likely have higher recall
- Product descriptions using these words are likely to be looked at and picked up more often
- Sales pitches using these words are more likely to be effective
One hint of advice – just don’t use all the words at once like I did. Pick just one or two because, as you saw, does it ever read like a spammy infomercial!
Aren’t you excited? If you do a quick search on google or twitter for “paid surveys,” you will find a huge listing of sites that claim you can make a living or makes lots of money taking surveys. Google found me 1,670,000 opportunities. WordPress found 845 blog entries hoping to entice me. Please, please, please, accept my public service announcement. You CANNOT make a living taking surveys. Most of these claims are exaggerations, some are outright fabrications. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
That’s not to say there are no benefits to answering surveys. You might earn $5 or $10 now and then. You might even be so lucky as to win a TV or a car, but of course, though your chances of winning these prizes are far better than your chances of winning the lottery (trust me, I know), your chances of making it big are pretty much null.
So why bother answering surveys if you CAN’T rake in the bucks? Well, they are interesting, you learn about new products on the market, you might get to try new products, and you are helping manufacturers improve products so that they better meet your needs. Look at the money as a bonus. It may not be billions and trillions of dollars but ‘ll take 5 bucks now and then!