I was heading out for the weekend on Friday and realized I needed gas for the car. Having missed my usual station, I made a point of stopping at the Picernos station off highway Route 1. Picernos is (I think) a regional company, not very special looking. As I was pumping my gas, I noted their sign that says Free Coffee All Day. I had seen it before and thought “what a good idea.” Scanning the rest of the area, I saw a Free ATM sign on the gas pump, along with signs for  breakfast sandwiches and 99 cent hotdogs.

The question that jumped into my mind was “Why don’t companies offer what people want and can’t get everywhere–FREE?” I’m not talking about the core product, but the tangential things. Picernos offer was boldly stated. How many people stop for their ATM? I suspect not many. But, the offer of something people wish they could get because they don’t get it in the usual places is a compelling attractor or connector.

I started thinking about my own practice.

  1. When I finish a piece of work with an individual or team, I always say “Call me any time you need or want a talk. Don’t worry about whether you are paying me.” I even say that I can do that because few people call me every week.
  2. I also have lots of learning content that I offer to anyone at no cost.

Seeing Picernos made me ask myself two questions:

  1. Are these offerings what people (like you) want and can’t get elsewhere? If not, what is?
  2. Can I make my learning materials more accessible? Do you even know what they are?

This week, if you have a minute let me know your views on the two questions  by email  Then, think about your own business or leadership practice. What do your “customers” want that you could give them generously and free? Is it access to a small amount of your time? Periodic product of your thinking? A mini-version of your core?