Free isn’t always generous. Free can be a legitimate marketing strategy, an ultimately selfish way to increase sales. Once you spread your ideas (and free is the best way to do that), there are all sorts of ways to profit. But don’t be confused. Free samples and free ideas and free bonuses are not necessarily generous acts.
A generous gift comes with no transaction foreseen or anticipated. A gift is a gift, not the beginning of a transaction. When you see a Picasso painting at the Met, Picasso doesn’t get anything (he’s dead). Even his heirs don’t get anything. His art is a gift to anyone who sees it.
Giving gifts is a fairly alien endeavor. In most families, even the holidays are more about present exchange than the selfless act of actually giving a gift.
The cool part, the punchline, is that giving a gift for no reason and with no transaction contemplated is actually incredibly powerful. It changes your approach to the market, it changes your relationship with the recipient and yes, it changes you.
By Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/