Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Content & Two Unforgettable Encounters

The thing I like about marketing or promoting your product with Social Media is that you can do it from the safe confines of your office or home. I also like the concept of free content which you can provide on the web. But how much free content should one give? If you're selling products like vitamins, lotions etc, you can always give out small samples so that your customers can test out your products, but you can't really do that with books. Do you give half the story and tell potential customers to buy the other half? Let me know what free content you give out. I would really like to hear about it.

 Over the years, I've had access to various events and round-table interviews with notables, and so I would bring some of my books to give away as souvenirs. Technically it wasn't a marketing exercise, but rather a method to get an all-exclusive quote from the dignitaries.

Well, back in 2005 Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the 117th IOC session in Singapore as part of the New York 2012 Olympic Campaign. As Clinton was departing her lunch venue, Ace, my photographer friend, stopped her for a photo which she graciously obliged. Taking the opportunity, I whipped out a copy of my book 'Monkey: The Classic Chinese Adventure Tale' and presented it to her. She looked at the book and asked, "Do you want me to sign it?" What? she didn't write it, I did! When I told her it was a souvenir, she smiled and thanked me. Her assistant then asked for my name card. 'Oh,  #$@##, I thought. Now I've done it. I'm going to be banned for the rest of the session. Thankfully I wasn't. BTW I forgot to get a quote.

The very next day, Albert of Monaco was departing the same restaurant. Ace  again stopped him for a photo and before I could stop him, Ace said, "Your Highness, my friend has a souvenir for you."

The Prince looked at me expectantly. I was thrown into a complete state of discombobulation. All I had I in my computer bag was a copy of 'The Littlest Emperor' which I intended to give someone else. I was in a bind. Bodyguards sized me up as I unzipped my computer bag, pulled out the book and handed it to the Prince. He looked at the book, then at me, then at the book again. 'What's this?"he asked. I scrambled to come up with a reply. You see, it was the day he confirmed his paternity of a child with a Togolese flight attendant. The book I presented him with was 'The Littlest Emperor'. What on earth could I be  implying? Ace grinned, pleased with himself, snapping pictures. I envisioned myself decking him or strangling him with his camera strap. 'Oh, nothing. It's just a souvenir! I wrote it,"  I found myself saying. Accepting that as an appropriate answer. The Prince nodded, smiled and thanked me. The bodyguard gave me death-stare before ushering the prince to his next appointment.

And so, those right now I would rather give free content over the web, far less awkward and a lot better for my nerves.

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