Why You Should Stop Offering The Free Pizza
I started freelancing for an organization in a consulting capacity and I used this analogy of the “free pizza” to illustrate a point.
You know those events where the organizers want you take your free time to show up for some presentation and they offer to bribe you with pizza? I can’t tell you how many times starting in highschool (and never ending since) where some event was hosted to demonstrate something and the organizers say “if you come, there will be free pizza”. Not sure what it is about pizza that gets people excited to show up but it almost always works.
People show up not because they care about the topic of the presentation but simply because they want the free pizza. Of course there are more sophisticated models of this around (**cough those presentations for timeshares) but the process is the same; incentivize to show up and hope they stay.
The problem with this approach is that the participants who show up for the free pizza really do show up for the free pizza.
I’ve even witnessed scenarios where the participant showed up, grabbed a slice or two, and then left mid-presentation. Because we have been socialized to this model our whole lives we then apply it to our own businesses, our relationships, and even ourselves.
We lead with the incentive when really we want people to stay for the show. We want them to value the presentation. We then get upset when people show up, grab a slice or two, and then dip out because we put so much into our presentation and they didn’t stick around to see “the good stuff”.
Realize that you are the good stuff! The pizza is just your appreciation for them being there. Better yet, don’t even advertise it. Let them show up & be surprised because when you stop being the free pizza some people are going to stop showing up…
and that’s ok because they don’t deserve the free pizza anyway.
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