The Teaching Company: Selling by Giving Away

I’ve always been a big fan of The Teaching Company and have enjoyed listening to many excellent college lecture series. I’ve also always been impressed by how they do such a good job of demonstrating a savvy business maxim of “selling by giving away”. This same maxim is the foundation of the tremendously successful shareware industry, for example, and even companies like Microsoft use this technique now, when they offer you the ability to download a fully functional 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 2004.

For Valentine’s Day, The Teaching Company is offering a free MP3 download entitled St. Valentine’s Day – A Medieval Origin by award-winning lecturer Dr. Philip Daileader of the College of William and Mary. It’s worth downloading and is engaging and intriguing listening, and an informative substitute to the dreck available through podcasts.

As you listen, think about how The Teaching Company is packaging and marketing their information product compared to, say, your local hometown newspaper. Even the description from their “our gift to you” email message is engaging and compelling:

“St. Valentine’s Day: A Medieval Origin” is presented by Professor Philip Daileader of The College of William and Mary. We offer free lectures to our customers at various times throughout the year as part of our goal to provide a lifelong learning experience.

Professor Daileader (Ph.D., Harvard University) is a specialist on the social, cultural, and religious history of Mediterranean Europe and has crafted two courses for The Teaching Company about the Middle Ages. He received William and Mary�s 2004 Alumni Fellowship Award for excellence in teaching. As a graduate student, he was a four-time winner of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.

Don’t take my word for it, though. visit their “landing-page” Web site, download the lecture and then visit The Teaching Company‘s Web site to see how a potentially dull and uninteresting product can be made compelling and engaging.

Oh, and don’t hesitate to browse… if you’re like me, you’ll doubtless find dozens of lecture series to drop into your wish list! In fact, since I know someone will ask, my favorite lectures from The Teaching Company are:

  • The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy
  • God and Mankind
  • The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism
  • Churchill
  • The History of Hitler’s Empire
  • The History of the English Language
  • Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination

Highly, highly recommended both from a business/marketing standpoint and just as a wonderful venue for people smart enough to realize that to learn is to live life to its fullest.

2 comments on “The Teaching Company: Selling by Giving Away

  1. What do you mean by ‘drop into your wishlist’ is that an internet feature on the Teaching Company Website or an ebay thing or just a figure of speech? Am I missing out on something?
    I just realized the other day I can buy and sell their stuff for practically the same price on ebay. I will have to find the Communism and Science Fiction ones. I did not like the Evolution course you mentioned. There were practically no decent insights in the lectures. I was thoroughly disappointed. I thought the guy from the Science (5 part DVD) lectures did a much better job in 30 minutes explaining Evolution etc.
    I am currently working on the Neuroscience DVD’s I think it’s like 18-36 hours. It is pretty boring so far. The lecturer uses all these technical terms and pours millions of facts on us and to a lay person it is all very meaningless and useless. I like it best when the professors synthesize the information and make it accessable to the common person. My favorite was the Greatest Books ever written course. The Physics in your Life was also astonishing. He explained every different aspect independently and simply without technical mumbojumbo confusion.

  2. Hello. I am a history student who is pursuing his Master’s degree (focusing on the period from Late Antiquity to the Reformation Era ( about 284 C.E. to 1648 C.E.) and I was looking for some insight from Professor Daileader regarding crucial aspects of this time period, most notably the impact of Scandinavian civilization on Christianity, its images and subsequent endeavors.
    Does Prof. Daileader have an email address or a forum where he answers questions from young scholars?
    Sincerely,
    Jeffrey Alan

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