Are Free Giveaways a Sound Strategy for Your Brand?
“Free” has always been a very powerful word. For businesses, “free” can attract a lot of publicity, but be warned: it can sometimes come with a price tag, especially when a brand’s reputation is at stake.
For decades, trade shows have been overrun with free giveaways and trinkets, but giving away branded promotional items at such events has become such a standard practice today that it raises the question: is it really the best way of getting your name out there?
In terms of marketing, giveaways provide businesses with a low-cost solution for collecting leads, acquiring return customers, and generating product awareness. Trade booths can gain a lot of attention with promotional items – you might even be surprised at the amount of instant brand awareness they can bring to the table (literally).
To make your giveaways even sweeter, you can also take the extra step in enlisting influential promoters to advertise your brand with prizes. The majority of companies today actually select their winners in order to ensure that someone with significant influence wins. It might sound like a scheme, but when you really think about it, when people win prizes, they usually talk about it online, which means free advertising for your brand!
But these giveaways don’t necessarily need to be featured at trade shows. If you have a new product or service you’re trying to promote between events, you’ll certainly need to conjure up some ideas as to how you’ll reach potential customers for the product or service. Free samples can be a huge hit into getting everyone interested. If you’re able to offer people an easy way to try your product or service, chances are they’ll respond very well.
When you sum up the benefits of giveaways and tchotchkes, the approach sounds like a wonderful idea to promote your brand and increase sales. However, when taking a closer look, how valuable can these leads really be? If you’re not careful with your giveaway strategy, you run the risk of acquiring poor quality leads, which can ultimately undermine all of the benefits.
On Second Thought…
While “free” can be an enticing term, especially in today’s economic climate, it may just be the wrong one to use when it comes to developing a promotion strategy.
For example, when looking back on KFC’s recent promotion, it’s simple to see how this kind of strategy can go awry. The Oprah Winfrey Show has always been well-known for its promotions, so when KFC teamed up with the show to promote their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, you bet they expected a high amount of attention, but as it turned out, the amount of customers the promotion brought to its restaurants was too much for them to handle. Nearly 10.5 million people downloaded KFC’s free coupon and within only two days, 4.5 million free meals were given away. The result? Not only did KFC have to offer rain checks to millions of customers because they ran out of food, they also had to deal with an endless line of angry customers.
Free offers can certainly give your brand much-needed publicity, but it must be limited. If you extend an offer over time, the customers that continue to return will only be coming to your business because its nonexistent price tag. If you want to attract new customers into your stores and keep them there, the offer should be discounted just enough to encourage customers to try your product or service out.
The price of advertising is an important factor — there’s no doubt about that — but it’s equally important to consider how different your product is than the competition.
Today’s guest blogger is Ivan Serrano, a passionate writer who enjoys sharing his research on marketing, branding and business communications. On his blog, 1800NumberNow.com, you can also see more of his writing, which covers global communication, VoIP and business globalization.