You Can Get It Free, But Does It Suck?

Whoever said, “The best things in life are free,” was a big fat liar.  OK, maybe if you’re talking about friends and family and the first day of sun after a long, overcast Seattle winter, it’s true.  But from a business perspective, it’s a load of bull.  The truth?  You get what you pay for.

Take customer service for example.  I am the type of person who likes to be treated well when I go shopping, so I’m willing to pay that extra $70 on a pair of shoes at Nordstrom because their salespeople are so nice, instead of going to TJMaxx for the bargain that comes with no service.  And as someone who works at home, I welcome that 15 minutes of small talk with a stranger during which we find out that we both know people who have studied abroad in Florence.

Now, I know there are also quite a few people who would rather creep through racks of clothes and go unnoticed by salespeople – shopping might be the only time you have to yourself all week.  But what if we’re talking about the business that you run and are trying to promote?  Wouldn’t you want vendors who provide you great service?  Even if it’s just showing up with a box of delicious cupcakes in exchange for a few minutes of your time?  Well, if the cost of their service is FREE, don’t pour yourself a glass of milk anytime soon…

One great example of this in the apartment industry is Craigslist ads.  Anyone can post an ad on Craigslist (which is a whole other topic for another time), so big apartment communities with luxury units need to do something to really stand out from the crowd.  This might include…

Posting a poorly designed ad that doesn’t even mention the name of your community?  And that links not to your website’s homepage, but:

That’s right, the homepage for GoGoPin so you can get a free account!  I gotta give it to GoGoPin – that is one smart way to advertise your own service while “providing a service” for another company.  Is it things like this that give the business world a bad reputation?  Nah…this is just innovation and creative thinking (although not so much on the part of the apartment community who attempted to advertise this way).

I’m sure the community realized the problems with this ad though, both the content and the link to GoGoPin’s website, because it looks like they decided to try posting another ad using photobucket this time:

It’s still graphically challenged, but at least they got the proper information in this one.  Let’s try clicking on the ad and see where we end up this time…

SURPRISE!  It’s photobucket’s homepage!  Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?  Man, they tricked us real good that time.  But ultimately, I think the joke is on this apartment manager in Fremont, eh?

So apartment communities, I know the economy is tough, but shopping at TJMaxx instead of Nordstrom isn’t going to get your units leased at the end of the day.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and those of us who can return just about anything and get our shoes repaired at Nordstrom are going to win.

Is your apartment community providing free advertising for a free advertising company?  Share with us at!


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