In a world where we have to work hard for our money, it feels great to get something for nothing - be it a shiny new car, a pair of movie tickets or even just a sample of a new perfume.
So as a small business owner, should you consider giving away free samples and products as part of your marketing strategy? Yes, definitely! Smart companies know that giving away their goods can go a long way to help reach the following business objectives.
Attracting new customers
Offering free products and services, whether through samples or giveaways, gives consumers who might not otherwise buy your product the chance to try it without risk. If the customer genuinely likes it, they will buy it - you won't have to convince them. The product or service will speak for itself.
Giveaways, especially through the use of social media channels, are a great way to build excitement and engagement with your brand - all for the price of a product or two. Many companies are now creatively integrating giveaways with treasure hunts and other activities to create even more participation and lasting brand awareness.
If you're a local business, you can generate more foot traffic and revenue for your business by offering something free. For example, a gym offering a trial membership for a time will gain new customers, or an optometrist offering no-cost eye exams will sell more glasses.
Building brand loyalty
The reason giving away things works to build brand loyalty and satisfaction is based on the "Law of Reciprocation", aka "give and you shall receive". The law operates on the principle that humans feel an obligation to give back after they receive something as way of expressing their appreciation.
For example, many years ago Cosmopolitan magazine, in an attempt to get customers to fill out a survey form, included a crisp one dollar bill inside the envelope. While one dollar doesn't seem like very much, it was enough psychological motivation for the recipient to want to return the favour by filling out the survey.
Introducing new products
Samples and giveaways are also an effective way to introduce new products. Again, both strategies serve to lower risk and psychological barriers to trying out a new product as well as generating buzz. Samples and giveaways are also an important way to get the word out about your new product, and can be used to incentivise consumers to give you marketing information.
You can help move your inventory by creating demand for your products with samples. In particular, by offering samples along with coupons, you can get those products to fly off the shelves, be it older inventory or specific products you wish to promote.
The key to running a successful campaign involving free products or services is to create value in the eyes of your customers at a low cost to you. In addition, you can also give your customers information and tips from your business that they can use year round, keeping you at top-of-mind awareness.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.