What to think about when giving away a “FREE Gift” to your customers

4 March 2014
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We all want something for nothing. The perception that a business will give us something for FREE has forced many a shopper to choose between spending money at Option A; who is only selling us what we came to buy, or Option B; the business who recently advertised in the local paper that all customers will receive a “FREE GIFT with any regular in-store purchase!

FREE GiftIncentive offers are a great way to entice repeat customers or lower the buying resistance of potential new shoppers. These are special offers made as a way to give the buyer a slight push in the direction you want them to go. Some of the most popular incentives are merchant giveaways. A simple and well-promoted giveaway will boost short-term sales numbers. It’s most commonly seen during slow months where weather, vacations or local economic hardships have kept the money spenders away.

I highly recommend seeking out creative ways to lure in new customers with gifts, but there are a few things you must think about before slapping together your instant offer.

The following suggestions were derived from Paul and Sara Edwards’ best seller, Getting Business to Come to You. A great book detailing how you can create effective sales promotions to attract all the business you can handle!

Be sure that the item you are giving away is related to your business

You want the recipient to enjoy your gift, use it and then come back for more…or at least have it be related to your own product or service. Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many merchants swing by the local Dollar Store, buy $300 worth of trinkets and use those as their FREE giveaway.

This tactic will only work if the item is somehow connected to your business, and is of good quality.

Imprint your business name or logo on the gift

Slap your logo, contact number, website and social media links on EVERYTHING! You want the customer to look at that item and remember your generosity. You should never rely on the customer to recall where something came from. Choose giveaway swag that is solid in color, and is able to securely hold a label or sticker.

It’s safe to say that you should never let anything leave your store that doesn’t have some sort of business identifier imprinted on it.

It should be functional and usable on a regular basis

Pens, mugs, thumb drives, mouse pads or anything that you can see the customer using daily. You want your gift to be functional. Take a close look at what you sell in your store, or what services you offer. If you’re a photographer for instance, giving away a FREE thumb drive so your client has a way to take home digital copies of their images, is a smart choice. You could upload a copy of your business card, a calendar created with your images, and some links to your website and social media pages. Have a local print company run off a few dozen stickers of your logo and contact info, and slap those on the outside of the drive case. You can also order custom promotional flash drives online, but they are a little expensive.

Ensure it’s a durable design

Cheap is cheap. Your gift in going to convey your appreciation for the customer. Avoid giving away something that falls apart after a single use and then becomes trash. That trash is a burden. It’s something that the customer will have to dispose of. You don’t want the office trash cans filling up with your cheaply made promo pens or calculators.

Now I’m not saying they need to receive the best money can buy, but keep in mind that your gift acts as a “Thank You,” a gesture of goodwill from business to consumer.

Make sure that other people will see it

Not only do you want your gift to be used regularly, functional and well-built, but you want it to be visible to others. Co-workers, family and friends are always going to be in close proximity to your customer. Think about items that have high visibility.

T-Shirts are very popular promotional gifts. Most t-shirts are not worn daily…at least not without washing I hope, but they serve as walking billboards for your business. I know of a local coffee shop here in town that rewards their customer’s fashionable loyalty by giving them a discount on Tuesday’s when they come in sporting their stamped threads. They call it “T-shirt Tuesday!”

Brand repetition leads to brand recognition. The more we see a brand’s image, the more likely we are to recall their name when we find ourselves in need of their product or service.

A gift giveaway will yield zero results if not aggressively promoted. You simply can’t wake up on Sunday and decide you are going to give something away on Monday. You’ll want to build up some buzz first through word of mouth, print, direct mail, social media posts, television and/or radio ads.

It’s your job to start the conversation, and then reward your customers for their effort.

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P.S. Also, remember to be creative and have fun! It’s your business. I simply offer suggestions that will help you increase your customer base, stack your bottom line and help you sell more stuff. But the real key to being a successful business owner, is to really enjoy yourself! If you love your business, you customers will recognize your passion, and want nothing more than to be a part of your dream. ~Andy

photo credit: Helmetti via photopin cc

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