Give to Get: 5 Ways to Make Freebies Work for Your Business

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How can you use freebies to turn shoppers into buyers? Learn 5 ways to make freebies work for your business.

We’ve all seen businesses that give away freebies as a tactic to attract new business, move a product, or make a sale.

It is a long held belief that “free stuff” attracts people. It does, no question about it. The question is, does it attract buyers?

I tolerate my trips to Costco because, no matter how much I embarrass my wife, I love my free samples.  

The biggest brands and the most successful retailers continue to use “free” as an ongoing sales strategy.

When used correctly, freebies can attract customers ready to buy. Here are some ideas on how you can use freebies to drive new sales without giving away the store.

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1. Make It Fun

If you’re going to give it away, make it memorable. Give your new customer a story to share. For example, I love telling the following story.  

A local flower shop makes a daily offer of a free rose to anyone with a specific name. The name changes daily, with an equal distribution of male and female names. One day the name on the sign was “Thomas” and I had no choice but to stop. I met the owner and got a feel for the shop. Having no prior allegiance to any other flower shop it became my flower shop. For the last three years, all birthdays, Valentines day, anniversaries, apologies, etc. have been satisfied by this shop. It was a fun and quirky thing to do and they won me as a customer.

By making the giveaway tied to a name, the shop never has to be worried about being overrun with traffic looking to claim the free offer. Could you make a strategy like this work for your business?

2. Make It Meaningful

Whatever it is you give away, make it something worth buying. It can be a miniaturized version, but it must be of equal quality to your other products. Think about it, if you are looking to buy a Cadillac the salesperson doesn’t have you test drive a Chevy. The flower store didn’t offer me a dozen roses, it was a single rose in full bloom. It was meaningful enough to leave an impression on me. And it was of sufficient quality that I wanted to buy more.

3. Make Them Opt In

Asking for an email address in exchange for a free item is common. While this quid pro quo is freely accepted, many businesses miss this opportunity to add to their marketing list. Educate your staff to capture name and email when you implement your freebie strategy. Again, if the giveaway is meaningful it won’t be an issue. Consider this strategy, use a service like Zenreach to offer free Wi-Fi in return for capturing a customers name and email. Why should you offer free Wi-Fi and get nothing in return? 

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4. Make It Scarce

Your freebie strategy doesn’t have to be everyday or all day. Try giving a limited number of free items to the first X number of people who respond to the offer. You will accelerate response and bring buyers to your business. Or, try making the offer good for a specific window of time. Give away goods or services every second Tuesday of the month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Use this strategy to drive traffic to your business during historically slow periods. This is a great way for smaller businesses to participate without having to give up too much financially. When people know an offer is limited they take note and tend to respond more aggressively.

5. Make It Viral

Lastly, once you have given something away for free make it easy for your new customer to share the story. If you’ve made it fun and meaningful, people will naturally want to spread the news. Give them some suggestions like posting a pic to social media, tagging you or your business, or checking in. After I got my free rose I posted a picture to my Facebook page and got tons of likes and comments. I am certain that single rose generated more than one new customer for the flower shop.

Photo of Tom Abel with free rose from promotion offered by flower shop.

There is no limit to how creative you can get with this strategy. Our goal was to get you thinking of ways to engage a larger audience and convert shoppers into buyers. Free samples give people the opportunity to test your product without risk. If you make it fun and worth their time you will most likely win a new customer. Best of all, these strategies aren’t just for the big boys. You can implement this tomorrow.

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