Now, Even Consultants Are Doing It.

Giving things away for free, that is.

The Economist reports that consulting firms are have quintupled the number of free reports they are producing and giving away for free, according to UK-based A second source, Tom Rodenhauser of Kennedy Information, estimates these giveaways costs as much as 5% of gross revenues.

And the nameless reporter goes onto question the value of this growing practice:

Ironically, given how much grief they would give a client who failed to answer such a question precisely, the consultancies cannot prove they are. Clients rarely say they hire a firm on the strength of its free publications. But the firms nonetheless defend the growing practice as a form of marketing. Costly consultancies like BCG and McKinsey are hired by chief executives or those near that rank. Their reports (and, increasingly, their webinars and podcasts) are an excuse to contact potential clients and a way of boasting about the brainpower they can apply to problems.

I could ask the question from the other side. “What benefit is there for knowledge-based organizations not to share their best ideas with the marketplace.”

Let me just evoke Seth Godin’s line: “The ideas that spread the furtherest win.”

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