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Giveaways That Give Back

Rob Frankel, a business columnist and consultant, expresses the fears of many when he confesses how he used to react when someone called who seemed to be for real and took up his time fishing around for free advice. “I used to cut these guys off at the knees,” says Frankel. But he’s reformed. Now he understands that this is an opportunity to demonstrate how well equipped he is to solve their problem. He gives such callers more advice than they expect, though not The Ultimate Solution.

“It took me a long time to learn how to give away more than I was initially comfortable giving,” Frankel says. At worst, you spend a few minutes convincing someone you know your stuff. At best, you snag a client because now they better understand how much they need you. “I only wish I had learned it sooner,” he says.

The lesson of “Give in order to get” applies not only in the realm of talk, but also in the realm of tangible items. Below are a variety of business situations in which it pays to give, so that you’ll eventually get.

1. Web sites. To generate leads from a Web site, you have to not only entice people to visit, but also persuade them to register or otherwise identify themselves. Consider bribing visitors with a useful item in exchange for registering. If the bribe consists of something to be sent out by mail, you’ll at least know they’ve given an accurate address.

Marketing consultant Sarah Pilgrim of Wilsall, Montana, advised a client to offer a free Screen Sweep, a device that cleans off computer screens, in exchange for visitors completely filling out their company profile. Not including postage, the Screen Sweep costs less than a dollar each. Other sites run a monthly drawing for a free T-shirt, diaper bag or radio — geared of course to visitors’ interests — with everyone who signs in that month automatically eligible. Get added credibility for such drawings by posting previous months’ winners.

ePromos has many computer products like promotional computer monitor accessories, promotional computer screen cleaners, logo computer screen brushes, and custom computer monitor products.

2. Premiums. Both through mail order and in a retail environment, you can increase the number and size of orders by offering items with a high perceived value free for all orders over a stated amount. Who hasn’t increased their subscription from one year to two in order to receive the not-available-elsewhere calendar?

Barb Todd, a successful cataloguer in Portland, Oregon, increased her average order from $100 to $300 by offering a gift worth $75 to anyone who orders more than $250 of merchandise. Todd’s premiums don’t actually cost her $75 each, however, as she selects the gift items from product samples or leftover inventory. Whenever the premium is something your patrons haven’t seen elsewhere, you don’t need to place a dollar value on it.

3. Thank-you’s. Just how rare a gesture of “Thank you” has become you can judge from this tidbit: Former talk-show host Al Parinello says that of about 2,500 guests he interviewed, only 10 — less than 1 percent — wrote to thank him afterwards. If a “Thank you” note is that unusual, sending a “Thank you” gift makes you as memorable as the most gracious guest at a party.

How about sending customized fortune cookies, a barbecue apron bearing the insignia of your firm, bottled water branded with your logo or something else guaranteed to keep tongues wagging at the other company? Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, carries promotional items with him on cold calls as “thank-you’s” for receptionists who put him through to the decision-maker.

4. Calling cards. Instead of routinely handing out a business card when you’ve made a promising business contact, why not offer a more distinctive, usable small item, like a pen, a mouse pad, a magnet or a letter opener? Business cards don’t have any perceived value, but these other things do. According to a Baylor University study, promotional gifts can enhance a company’s goodwill quotient as much as 52 percent.

Although it seems logical to choose a promotional product that ties into your line of business (screen saver for a computer repair company, backscratcher for a physical therapist, tire pressure gauge for a bicycle dealer), it also makes sense to think about situations in which you might encounter prospects. Ginny Rivenburg, who sells blinds and drapes, loves to golf, so she had tall tees printed up reading “Custom Window Products, Ginny & Dave Rivenburg” and their Acton, Massachusetts, phone number. While golfing in Florida, she gave some imprinted tees to a couple whose son up in Massachusetts six months later moved into a new house. Guess who did the son’s window treatments!

Boston-based marketing and publicity consultant Marcia Yudkin helps business owners around the world creatively spread the word about their offerings. She’s also a syndicated columnist through ParadigmTSA, a public radio commentator and the author of nine books, including Six Steps to Free Publicity and Persuading on Paper. In addition, Marcia Yudkin delivers eye-opening, content-rich, motivating seminars on publicity and marketing to business and professional groups nationwide.

Copyright 1999 Marcia Yudkin and ePromos. All rights reserved.

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