Marketing – what should I give away for free?

There are several reasons why giving things away for free works well. Generosity captures people’s attention and creates a buzz. If the product, service or information you give away is of high value, people will talk about it. Giveaways can also be useful icebreakers and an effective way of introducing you and your business to new prospects.

Free items and services can help build brand awareness and mailing lists. They can expedite your credibility and status as an expert in your field. Complimentary items also encourage people to try your products and services. However, everything you give away needs to be carefully strategised.

Here are some ideas of what to give away for free.

1. Produce and distribute an e-book
Establish yourself as an authority by offering tips and knowledge in an e-book. Make it available to download for free from your website. If necessary, commission a writer and/or editor to ensure the content is well written and presented. Promote the e-book on social media. Ask for contact details in exchange for the free download, and invite feedback and questions.

This will enable you to create a database and initiate conversation. Communicate with people on your database, but do not bombard them with information. Invite them to keep returning to your website by regularly posting an informative, useful and relevant blog or by circulating an email newsletter.
Keep in touch, but don’t spam. Once you have built a mailing list or get followers from your giveaway, make sure you keep communicating with your new contacts. Engage them with new content, and provide them with information to enhance your brand,” says Mawuna Koutonin of SiliconAfrica.com in Togo.

2. Offer free samples and promotional items
Giving away free samples and promotional items (like calendars, mouse pads, T-shirts and refrigerator magnets) can help raise brand awareness and associate your brand with generosity. For some businesses, they are a key part of the marketing strategy, but, as with all giveaways, items should be given away with careful consideration. Ensure they are appropriate to your business and distribute them in the right quantities.
Encourage feedback and further communication by including contact details on all samples and giveaways. When you hand out items in person, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. There are few things more valuable than making personal contact with potential customers.

3. Give free talks
Offering free talks or seminars is another good way of promoting yourself and your business. It gives you further opportunity to meet people face-to-face. It also provides an additional platform for you to build your brand and your status as an authority in your industry.
Get started by recording and uploading a YouTube clip of yourself doing a short, but compelling, talk. Link it to your website and social media accounts.
Aside from their products or services, entrepreneurs generally have great stories to tell – mostly about passion, optimism, tenacity and hard work. Technology means it has never been easier to get your story out there than it is today,” notes Gil Oved, co-CEO of The Creative Counsel in Johannesburg.