There are times when free isn’t free.

I went to download a supposedly “free” white paper off of the internet recently, and I was asked for the following information:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • E-mail
  • Phone
  • Company
  • Web site
  • Country
  • State/Province
  • Department/Function
  • Job Title
  • Primary Objective
  • Industry

That’s a lot of information. Asking for that information definitely destroys trust. In fact, because they asked for so much information, I didn’t trust the people that were doing the asking and so I didn’t even register to receive the white paper.

The web site said: “We value your privacy,” but I’m sorry, I get too much junk mail as it is. Having to filter one more set of email messages for the rest of my life is just too large a burden to bear, particularly to get a white paper whose value I can’t even determine until AFTER I’ve given away all my pertinent information.

Asking for this much information doesn’t create trust and it sure doesn’t create any loyalty.

Seth Godin describes marketing as leading a tribe of interested parties. The best leaders lead

from the front, not the rear, that is, the best leaders don’t ask any members of their tribe to do something they wouldn’t do FIRST. Yet here is this web site asking me to lead, by asking me to give up something of value before they reciprocate by giving me something that may or may not have any value.

This isn’t thought leadership; it isn’t even thought followership; this feels like thought extortion.

Flame off!