Quid Pro Nada – An E-Marketing Currency


Recently, I signed up for a webinar by a web services company on the use of video in social media.  I’d forgotten about registering when I got a call from a woman at the company asking if I had any specific questions I wanted answered during the webinar.  I was in the middle of a project, but her invitation seemed genuine, so I said yes, I was looking for a particular way to host video images.  After clarifying my need, she suggested, not one, but two alternatives. 

As a marketing and sales person, I am often intrigued by cold calls, mostly for their incredible ineptitude and intrusion, but I often engage just to hear the sales approach.  To date, the longest I have been kept on the phone was 60 seconds and that was by an outfit that asked if I was interested in a 25% return on my money, but wouldn’t tell me what it was until I threatened to hang up.  It turned out to be Ostrich egg farming.  When I pointed out that it was December in Minnesota, and that I believed Ostriches would not lay eggs at temperatures below zero, they hung up.   But what was my reaction to the woman at the web services company?

I was pleasantly surprised.  She’d given me two fairly detailed solutions to a problem I was having, and hadn’t given me a sales pitch.  She wished me well and asked for one small advance, if she could follow-up after the webinar to see if everything made sense and to then understand what I was trying to accomplish with video.  Our follow-up conversation lasted 20 minutes.

We are all familiar with Quid pro Quo, a Latin expression which means something for something.  It’s a term often used in negotiation.  You give me something, and I’ll give you something in return.  What the sales person for the web services company offered me originally was Quid pro Nada.   Something for nothing.  (Please forgive the mixed language here, it should actually be Quid pro Nihilim, but I think you get the point.)  We’ve become so jaded by the sales call that we always expect to be asked for something in return.  “Hello, Mr. Stocking, do you have a minute?”  We’re always expected to give them something, our time, in order to listen to their pitch.

Quid pro Nada is a basis for establishing trust between marketer or seller and buyer.  It is the foundation of the new sales approach on the internet.  One gives information, without asking for a sale in return.  One earns trust and authority and builds it incrementally.

I’ve had CEO’s and VP’s tell me that they couldn’t possibly give away good information, or the company secret sauce, or consulting advice for all sorts of silly reasons.  What if the competitors were watching their website or listening to their web broadcasts?  My response is… so what?  If you’re protecting the information that engages your prospects, you aren’t engaging prospects.  Just because you know that it takes plutonium and a detonator to make a nuclear bomb, doesn’t mean you can make one in your basement.   A bad metaphor in these times, I know (see my post on framing).  Giving information Quid pro Nada is the new sales advance.

Before you try it, think about the following:  What kind of specialized information would make you really uncomfortable to give away to a prospect?  Or maybe you should be asking yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Take a calculated risk: Try offering something for nothing and see where it gets your organization.


  1. Chris McPartland

    Nice work Lee. Speaks to how much culture is critical to getting to the right answers. Is this your first rodeo?


  2. Mike Sanislo


    This Blog is a great example of the Quid Pro Nada concept. Nice work.

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