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Giving it away for free

Many businesses are surely contemplating how to capitalize on all the high-profile events in coming weeks, from the national Democratic and Republican conventions to maybe even their state fair. But don’t just focus on how to make money off these events.

In fact, the best advice might be counterintuitive: Give your stuff away free.

Many small companies are devising special promotions or even products and services to sell around these events. But especially for small companies, it can be a hard sell. You’re competing with all the other companies out there trying to make a buck.

But nobody can resist freebies.

Freebies are everywhere at the Olympics. Companies, large and small, gave water bottles, T-shirts and even athletic tape to athletes and attendees in hopes TV news crews and photographers might blast a shot of their gear to media outlets world-wide. They showered goodie bags on the athletes or simply handed out stuff outside the games.

Though a small company may not have access that large companies like Coca-Cola Co. do at such events, they can still get attention from the crowds.

Beyond the branding potential big events bring, marketing experts say there are other good reasons for giveaways. For one, consumers can try your product and, if they like it, they’ll say only good things to other people about you. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

Marketing guru and blogger Seth Godin is a big advocate of giving away free stuff. (He even wrote a book about it that came with its own free ebook.) His point: When you give stuff away free, you’re also selling stuff you wouldn’t have sold without the freebie. If people like your free stuff, they’ll come back for more – and pay next time.

What do you think of that advice? Have you ever given stuff away for free?


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