Santa Claus has a reputation for being the most generous of folk.

But is he really?

After all, to get anything from Santa, so the story goes, you better be on his Nice List. If you’re on the Naughty List? Nothing for you.

Contrast this with the Easter Bunny who also visits once a year loaded with giveaways.

But the Bunny doesn’t keep a list of who is ‘entitled’ to receive. He has handouts for everyone.

Are you the Easter Bunny, offering value to anyone who is interested?

Or are you Santa, only giving to those who meet certain criteria?


It can be risky and feel somewhat galling to give away our hard-earned knowledge to people who may never buy from us.

‘I’m not giving any more away for free. I’ve worked hard to get this far and it’s time I was able to earn something from it.’

For ‘Magda’, it was too much to ask. I don’t want to betray client confidences so I’ve changed her name and some of the details for this article. But her story is not uncommon. 

Magda came to me for a consult after starting a solo venture based on her passion for art. Before having children, she had been successful in the corporate world and was paid well for what she knew and could do.

Now she’d invested time and money to educate herself about a new field, and armed with a novel approach to selling artworks, she was ready for success.

But she was finding that getting the word out about her venture was more than hard – it felt like shouting to an empty room. She wanted to know if I could help.

I could see that she had personality in spades, a solid business idea and potentially something that buyers could love.

So as well as my usual suggestions about things like consistent blogging and being helpful in online forums in her field, I also recommended she started running workshops.

Workshops where she could share her passion and expertise with an interested audience.

Workshops where people could get to know and like her and see that she has so much to offer.

Workshops that people would talk about with others, spreading the word and doing her marketing for her.

Free workshops.

That one word stopped the whole conversation – free.

And then Magda told me she was tired of giving away her knowledge; that people should be prepared to pay for what she knows.

We DO deserve to make a living from what we know, and if we are patient and generous it will happen, just not always on the timeframe we’re working to.

It takes time for audiences to find us, like us and trust us. Respecting their attention with something genuine and valuable, something unique – us – is what will bring people back time and again.

‘When someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious… Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.’ 

That’s Seth Godin, who is passionate about the rights of the audience and the value for businesses in respecting those rights. You can read the full article on Seth’s Blog. 

He’s not the only one of course advocating for greater generosity in marketing – for being worthwhile for our audiences. The message is clear:

In today’s attention-scarce marketplace, what you know is most valuable to YOU when you give it away.

I lost touch with Magda soon after that consultation although I do know she’s still in business. I just don’t know how much of the success she wanted has actually come her way by doing it her way. 

By judging people as either naughty (only after the freebies) or nice (willing to pay), Magda limited her opportunity to reach more of the people who could love what she does.

By choosing to be Santa, instead of the Easter Bunny, she’s left herself with only one list.

And no chocolate. How sad is that?