How to Turn Free Giveaways into Paid Work

This article is a follow up to the one I wrote last week about how I gave away 15 minutes of my time and made $5700 as a result. The article drew a good amount of attention, and started a pretty good conversation. Our discussion brought a rather large question into the light.

How does a person actually get paid jobs by giving away something for free?

In my experience, there are four major parts that make a free giveaway profitable. Read more for a detailed description of each part, and how you can use them to run a successful giveaway.

Who’s getting the freebie?

Whether you’re giving a presentation to an audience, or offering up a prize on a website, the ‘who’ is a critical part of making a giveaway successful.

My most successful giveaway was one that I did at a chamber of commerce convention, and I credit a big part of its success to the fact that the crowd there was 80% small business owners. Nearly every person I talked to was my target market and had the power to make a purchase if they wanted.

Even the best prize in the world won’t get new business if the audience isn’t in a position to buy, or isn’t interested in what you’re offering.

Is your giveaway relevant and interesting?

The success of your giveaway depends on attracting the attention of potential clients, and then turning that attention into a sale. In order to accomplish those goals, your giveaway must be interesting and valuable enough to get the attention of your audience in the first place, and it must be relevant to the product or service that you want to eventually sell them.

Finding something to give that’s both interesting and relevant can be hard, but you’ll be rewarded with a successful giveaway when you do.

Free means you’re trading value, not money

For best results, your free item should have a lot of value—because you’ll need to get something valuable in return if your giveaway is going to be successful. A good giveaway usually ends up being a trade between you and your potential clients, or you and the event coordinator (as with a presentation).

Here are some things you could ask for in return for your prize or presentation:

- A subscription to your newsletter or blog
- An email address, phone number, etc…
- Exposure to a large audience
- People’s time and attention
- A commitment to meet with you later
- Good will towards your company

A lot of these you won’t ask for directly from your audience or recipients, but instead you’ll get them as a result of the giveaway format or venue. If you aren’t asking for something directly, make sure you know enough about the format/venue that you have a good idea of exactly what you’ll get in return.

I made the mistake of not doing enough research on one giveaway, and I ended up loosing money because of it (I wasted $700 on 9 hits and no clients). As it turned out, the method of the giveaway didn’t provide nearly enough exposure for the value of the prize I offered.

How will you lead them to the sale?

One of the big benefits of a giveaway is that it can serve as an entry point to new customers. A free presentation will get you in front of a lot of people, a free product can get people to talk to you, etc… But without anything else, a lot of free offers don’t go any further than that. It is important to remember that the giveaway is usually only the first step in the sales process—you still need to lead people from there to the second step, and from the second step to the third, until they become a customer.

Planning out exactly how you intend to convert people into customers once you have their attention is probably the most important ingredient of a successful giveaway.

At the end of my successful 15 minute presentation (This one) I told people about all of the free tips and strategy I offer on my blog, and mentioned that if they wanted to sign up they should just drop their business card in the box on the table. I also asked everyone who talked to me in person if they were interested in setting a lunch date to talk more about marketing their business. Lastly, I had flyers, sales materials, and a portfolio on hand for people who wanted to talk more on the spot. The end result was that I had several paths leading people towards our company and our products.

With the right audience, the right message or product, and a good conversion path, you’ll have a hard time not making a lot of money with a free giveaway or free presentation. Please feel free to ask more detailed questions or share your own personal experiences in the comments section.

Reader Comments

Jan. 29. 2008 11:20 PM

I enjoyed reading this and found myself thinking back to my own experiences.  I was one of those readers/subscribers who asked the question of how to turn “freebies” into “paid” business transactions.

One thing I think helped is the idea that I have flyers or borchures or something for people to take back with them plus mentioning about my blog/website, etc.  In the past, I never handed anything out at the freebies.  A couyple came up to me to inquire about my speaking fees but those never turned into anything substantial.

Let me give you an example of what I typicall tend to do.  I am a motivational speaker, right?  On occasion I speak for free to local service clubs like Kiwanis, Lion’s, Rotary.  How do you I know they are in a position to make decisions?  I don’t.  That’s the thing!  I might have a bunch of lawyers or managers, etc. but I have no way of knowing if my 30 minutes of speaking will turn into anything substantial.  For me, it’s a gamble.

Thanks for letting me share.

Feb. 20. 2014 8:38 AM

I don’t think anybody knows for sure what position they are in until they achieve their goal… And then another goal comes, and you redo the cycle of not knowing. Marketing strategies are not guaranteed, especially in such a harsh economy, with fierce competition ready to put you down anytime for their sake.

Apr. 16. 2014 12:28 PM

A successful giveaway also means socializing with your customers! You don’t simply hand them the freebie so they can go on their way, because they’ll forget about you the next minute. you have to be personal and social!

Apr. 22. 2014 6:20 AM

Each of these an individual won’t look for immediately from your viewers or perhaps recipients, but instead you’ll encourage them as a result of the particular giveaway file format or perhaps locale. When you aren’t asking for something immediately, be sure you know sufficient in regards to the format/venue which you have recommended connected with what exactly you’ll get in give back.

May. 28. 2014 11:26 AM

Nothing is sure in marketing, but everything you do will get you closer to your desired customers. Whether it’s a positive or a negative image the one you project, it’s entirely up to you and up to fate.

Jul. 4. 2014 8:45 AM

Money - it’s the sense in which the award, thus achieving! What would find a job that really interested - you have to try fairly and sweat! People can adapt to almost any kind of work, but most importantly - something she liked!

Jul. 22. 2014 12:31 AM

This article is well thought out and full of good information. Many Thanks for taking time to bring this together into one article.

Jul. 24. 2014 1:17 AM

I am preparing a college paper and collecting information on this topic. Your post is one of the better that I have read. Thank you for putting this information into one site.

Aug. 4. 2014 7:52 AM

Freebies don’t mean much nowadays if they don’t have a kick ass presentation and a wow factor, especially if we’re talking about offering them with the lauch of a product.

Oct. 29. 2014 11:35 PM

For optimum results, your free item must have lots of value-because you’ll want to get something valuable in return if your giveaway is going to be successful. An excellent giveaway eventually ends up like a buy and sell involving you and the clients, or else you along with the celebration manager (much like an exhibition).

Nov. 8. 2014 11:59 AM

This marketing strategy stills works even today, but the consumer has become far more savvy and many find an air of suspicion arise when something is given away free.

With tons of people looking to build email lists by giving something away for free and the poor freebie seeker then gets bombarded with offers thereafter, it is no great surprise as to why people are little more cautious when taking up a free offer.

Nov. 9. 2014 10:48 PM

Topic of article is good enough to grab the attention. Who dont want to earn easy money. So I have read all the article because of it. Anyways everyone knows that freebies are used to attract people but your concept of leading it to increase the sale is very brilliant. Thanks for sharing good ideas.

Nov. 12. 2014 9:20 AM

I am a big supporter of this policy and as I said before I think that if you have a good product then you have nothing to worry about.

Nov. 22. 2014 12:16 PM

Wo ging der Tradition während des Festes setzen leere Flaschen unter den Tisch? Nirgends, außer in Russland, gibt es keine solche Sitte. Viele Leute denken fälschlicherweise, dass der Aberglaube mit leeren Flaschen zugeordnet, kam zu uns aus der Sowjet-Ära. Dann dachte man, dass das leere Paket auf dem Tisch kann etwas Schlimmes verursachen: Geld im Haus somit nicht die Gastgeberin konnte nicht schwanger werden.

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