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If you're not paying for the product, you are the productYou Get What You Measure! - Wedding Business Solutions Podcast with Alan Berg CSPIf you’re not paying for the product, you are the product

I was talking to a speaker friend about all of the free services that exist today, from social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) to business services like Canva, Animoto, Dropbox, Zoom and more. It’s very tempting to try and use those free services, after all, that’s why they offer a free version. But that can’t be the business model, there has to be a profit model for those services and sites as well. While I might try a new service with a free-trial, I try not to stick with the free versions. There are more features with the paid versions and since I want people paying me for my products and services, it’s only fair that I should pay for the value I get from them. That said, there are times when the free version is enough and lots and lots of people use them. So, that makes you wonder how these companies benefit. Some get enough people that upgrade and pay, and some may not. But, as Tristan Harris (a former Google Design Ethicist) said: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”

Listen to this new 7-minute episode and hear what that quote actually means and it might just change your perspective on what’s really “free”.

If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or visit my website www.AlanBerg.com

Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review (thanks, it really does make a difference). If you want to get notifications of new episodes and upcoming workshops and webinars, you can sign up at www.ConnectWithAlanBerg.com

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review (thanks, it really does make a difference). If you want to get notifications of new episodes and upcoming workshops and webinars, you can sign up at www.ConnectWithAlanBerg.com


– If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Listen to this episode and find out what I mean. Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist, ethicist, yeah, ethicists, that’s what it was, Google. Let’s try that again. Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist came up with that phrase, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Now, what do they mean by that? What they mean is we as consumers very often are getting things for free. There’s always a cost to that, but the cost is to whom?

So when you’re on Facebook or you’re on Instagram or you’re on Pinterest or you’re on any of those sites or you’re using some product and you’re not paying for it, you are the product because audiences are products. A website’s audience is the product if they’re selling ads. A newspaper’s audience, the readers, are their product because they’re selling ads or they’re selling information, or they’re doing something with your data, right? That’s what we’re all, a lot of people worried about these days is data privacy. You are the product because the audience is what they’re selling against. If there’s no audience, there’s nothing to sell.

So a lot of sites started by giving everything for free. And then they come up with the premium models. WhatsApp, was free, although initially I think it was a dollar a month from for everybody, but it’s free for us to use. And they’re trying to figure out a commercial model for that. The first thing is they get a billion or 2 billion people using it, something crazy like that, but that’s an audience. And that audience becomes valuable to people who want to get in front of that audience. So before you go and say, I’m trying to get everything for my business for free, understand that free is not free. You are giving something to that site or also understand that they can take away that free anytime they want. It’s their sandbox. It’s their toys. It’s happened to us many, many times, Google Plus, Google came out with Google Plus. A lot of people went on Google Plus. Google Plus went away, it’s gone. What recourse do we have? Nothing, we weren’t paying.

Facebook gave us everything for free. I have my personal page. Then I created my business page. And those of us with business pages found out one day that instead of all of your followers seeing everything you posted, 6% saw that. And what could we do about it? Nothing. We can choose to go away, but then those followers can’t follow us there anymore. And if they’re still there, it’s like we walked out of the room and they’re not there. So if you’re trying to get in front of a social audience, the people that already follow you, you’re not even getting in front of them unless you’re paying. And then if you want to get in front of people that don’t know you, you definitely have to pay to get in front of those audiences. And all of those people that are on there for free, they’re the product. They’re the product that Facebook is selling against, that Instagram is selling against, that Pinterest is selling against, that TikTok and everybody is selling against. You, we are the product.

Free is not necessarily free. Think about all the apps that you get. And it says in-app purchases. Or if you want to get rid of the ads, you have to pay them, right? Because if you’re not paying them to get rid of the ads, the ads want to be there because we are there. We’re still the audience. We have to pay for the privilege of not seeing the advertising, because they’re going to get paid somehow, either by the advertisers or they’re going to get paid by us. So think about free. I try not to use their free versions of things. Not because of the ads, I don’t mind ads. I’ve been in advertising and marketing for over 25 years. I certainly don’t mind that that my degree is in marketing and accounting. I worked for the largest ad agency in the country when I came out of college, so ads are fine. Ads are part of the experience. People watch the Super Bowl because of the ads, right? So I don’t mind the ads, but if I want the better features, somebody’s gotta pay for that. And it’s either the advertisers or it’s us.

Plus, I want people to pay me. I don’t want people to pay me at a high level for high level of work and outcomes. Therefore, I’m willing to pay Dropbox for more storage. I’m willing to pay Animoto for more features, right? I’m willing to pay for other services that, you know, I could get for free, but the paid version gets me more features. Canva, I paid it to get more features. So before you just go looking for everything for free, look at the other side and say, Hey, do you want everybody looking for your service for free or do you want them paying at a higher level to get a higher level of results? So remember if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product because somebody is selling you, you as an audience, and we as an audience to someone else to give value to them. Because if it’s totally free, they got no money coming in. It’s going to go away.

And remember when that free stuff goes away, you don’t really have recourse. You weren’t paying them. So it goes away and you just have to go somewhere else, but you’ll never get access to that particular audience or those products and services if they decide that free isn’t there anymore. It just goes away and you’re not going to have access. So I always say, invest in your business the way you want other people to invest in you. I hope that helps you.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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