digital · leadership · transformation

Free WiFi means free promotion

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Being on holiday for a few weeks allows the mind to declutter, experience new things (I did my first parasail) and see things in a fresh light.

And so it was I was sitting in a restaurant somewhere in Penang annoyed at the slowness of the WiFi (or in most cases unavailability of WiFi), and wondering why it was bothering me. I’m on holiday, who needs the internet?

And then it struck me – when there was reliable and fast WiFi, my wife and I both logged on, took photos of where we were and shared it on our various social media sites. We looked at what others had posted, read tips, and gauged a good idea about the place and what it had to offer. In the process, we were busy promoting the hell out of wherever we were to our networks and a gazillion other people we would never meet or know who would read our postings later.

Why everywhere does not provide free WiFi is beyond me. While I appreciate the frustration for a cafe owner who sells but one coffee to people who stay for an hour enjoying free internet, the upside is that person is probably promoting your service to a whole legion of people who would otherwise have never heard of your establishment.

Remember a few things are at work here:

1. People like to showcase their lives (telling others what they are up to, where they are, how great it is),
2. People believe 90% of personal recommendations and only 14% of advertising.
3. People will think more of you when you provide something like free WiFi.

Some bars in New York allow the Foursquare ‘mayor’ to drink for free. These places are packed because everyone wants to check in and become the mayor (only one person can be mayor at any one place). More business results.

So, let your clientele showcase their cup of coffee, wonderful meal, great hotel, fun night out, or whatever, to whoever they want. Encourage them to do so! Start with free WiFi and let it all happen naturally.

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