Free Gift Ideas That Help You Sell More

September 23, 2008

If you’re looking for free gift ideas for your business, they don’t always need to cost you money. Some free gift ideas can actually help you make more. For example, Disney are running an interesting promotion. If it’s your birthday, you get into any one of their parks in the USA for free.

And if you’ve already bought a pass, they’ll give you a one day pass you can use to come back again, 24 fast passes, or a gift certificate to the value of a one day pass to spend in the parks.

No doubt, lots of themepark visitors will be having a birthday on any given day. So at first it sounds like they’re going to lose money, rather than make it. But when you look closely, it’s a genius offer and I’m betting it will make Disney heaps more money.

First off, many of people who weren’t planning to do so, may go to one of the Disney parks on their birthday to take advantage of the offer. Few people travel alone, so Disney are bringing in a lot more paying visitors.

Again, if they choose to have the pass to come back again instead - that’s an extra trip, with more paying visitors. And if they choose the gift certificate option to purchase a meal, or shop - again, they’re taking the folks who are with them. So more money spent by paying customers.

Plus, because it’s such an interesting offer, the media are writing about it. So Disney don’t need to spend a penny on marketing.

How could you do the same thing in your business? What free gift ideas can you come up with that will either:

Persuade people to bring more paying customers with them.
Encourage customers to spend more on products that they wouldn’t normally have bought.
Bring customers back to buy off you again.

And even better - could you make your offer so interesting that you get free press coverage?

We don’t all own a themepark. But if you think about these free gift ideas carefully, I bet you’ll find a way to apply them to your business.

What do you think? Do offers like this make sense. Do you keep an eye on what some of the big companies are doing, so you can borrow their ideas for your business?

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30 Responses to “Free Gift Ideas That Help You Sell More”

  1. A Free Gift From Disney To You | Disney World Tips on September 23rd, 2008 6:00 am

    [...] always nice to get free gifts. And Disney is offering a magical free gift to everyone. If you visit one of their theme parks in the USA in 2009, on your birthday, you’ll get free [...]

  2. Barbara Swafford on September 23rd, 2008 7:28 am

    Hi Catherine,

    I think even as as a small company we can learn from the big ones. Thus far we haven’t offered any “gifts”, but it’s something to think about for the future.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..NBOTW - Her Spirit Will Move You

  3. Kelly@SHE-POWER on September 23rd, 2008 8:26 am

    That is a genius marketing idea. I saw something on tv a few nights ago that had MusicMan and I talking. It was on a home gardening/renovation show where Jamie Durie, Australia’s resident gardening spunk goes overseas to get inspiration for these phenomenal “outdoor room” makeovers.

    The makeovers are given to ordinary people who have fallen on hard times or done something heroic or selfless in the community. This week the family had almost lost their home through a combination of sudden unemployment and rising interest rates. After the garden was transformed and everyone was already emotional, jamie pulls out this cheque from WIZARD HOME LOANS for $10,000 to ensure the family get to stick around and enjoy their new Indian garden.

    Talk about cheap advertising and positive PR! I was weeping already and then bang they come in and wave their big WIZARD cheque around, and even a marketing cynic such as myself thought “Awww.”

    I’d be interested to hear idea for how this can be applied to small business though. The only real examples I’ve seen are hairdressers/beauticians/massage therapists who send you discount vouchers on your birthday and once I had one who did it for Christmas “to pretty you up for all those parties”.


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..An Australian Delinquent in Paris

  4. Lance on September 23rd, 2008 12:55 pm

    I think this is an excellent idea - for Disney, or for any company - big or small. Giving your customers a little something extra will keep them coming back. It could be as simple as a hand-written note (for a small company) to something like this that Disney is doing. It all adds value. Value that can pay back several times over….

    Lance’s last blog post..Don’t Ever Give Up

  5. Stacey / CreateaBalance on September 23rd, 2008 2:44 pm

    I have been thinking a lot about how to offer a “free prize” to my readers on a regular basis. I’m actually going to start offering free life balance related pdf articles, reports, etc on my site for people to download as a free gift. I hope my readers find value in what I will be providing and enjoy the free gift.

    Stacey / CreateaBalance’s last blog post..Do What You Love

  6. chris on September 23rd, 2008 2:48 pm

    It’s a great idea! I don’t think many businesses try promotions like this especially small ones. Discounts for teachers are my favorite promotions!

    chris’s last blog post..A Thankless Job

  7. Patricia on September 23rd, 2008 7:34 pm

    I love to give gifts and I take great care to pick special ones to share, I gave away 6 workshops on self-esteem to 6 women I exercise with…I received 6 new friends.

    I have difficulty with not giving myself away. I can’t seem to make myself focus on earning money at all. I am asking myself and attempting to work through nonviolent communication skills to assist me in working with money and not being so hard on myself.

    I just feel like there is symmetry and if I just keep giving my talents and sharing my words that life will come back to me and fill me up and my needs will be met.

    My web person says if I just keep telling people to purchase things off my website, they will start to do it. I just bought the 6 books for a new book group to read and will ask them to donate them to the prisoners read program when they are done? I don’t know if they will, but I made the gift will see if it is passed on? I enjoy your writing and ideas and keep attempting to get better on the blogging world everyday. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with me.

  8. cathlawson on September 23rd, 2008 8:43 pm
    Hi Barbara - that is definitely true. I’ve done quite a few free gifts for customers. The most challenging thing is finding something that’s going to make you money instead of costing you. But it’s definitely possible.

    I don’t know if you give calenders out Barbara - but I used to do desk calenders mostly, instead of wall calenders. Businesses tend to get a lot of wall calenders sent - desk ones are far more useful. Also, don’t send them before Christmas - folk tend to forget about them by New Year. I used to send them so they arrived the first working day of the new year.

    If they’re using them and their on the desk all the time, it keeps your name on their mind.

    Hi Kelly - that was a brilliant idea. There’s no way they would have got a TV ad for that sum.

    I like the discount birthday and christmas ideas too.

    Hi Lance - if you’re giving anything to your customers at all - even a handwritten note, as you mentioned, you’re well ahead of 99% of your competition.

  9. Davina on September 23rd, 2008 9:00 pm

    Hi Cath. This is a good strategy and one that I studied in a self-employment program this year. It builds loyalty with customers through creating a more “personal” connection. Just a small token or extra bonus is enough to make a customer feel appreciated. It’s a positive way of mixing business with pleasure.

    Davina’s last blog post..I’m Over The Moon As NBOTW

  10. Avani-Mehta on September 23rd, 2008 9:25 pm

    These are great ideas. You got me thinking. It doesn’t even have to be something which provides some kind of economical value.

    Avani-Mehta’s last blog post..How To Pick Your First Anger Management Area - Anger Management Series Part IV

  11. cathlawson on September 23rd, 2008 9:38 pm

    Hi Stacey - that sounds like a good idea - especially if you put links in the reports that will bring them back to your site. Maybe you could do an opt in newsletter and mention them in there too.

    Hi Chris - discounts for teachers are a great idea. I know the Swan and Dolphin resorts in Disney World offered discounts for teachers and nurses - I’m guessing they still do them.

    Hi Rita - that is a brilliant idea. I’ve never seen anyone do that before.

    You’re right about Disney’s promotion. People wind up spending a fortune in the parks, so they never lose out.

    Hi Patricia - maybe it’s something in the past that’s made you feel that way about money.

    One way to look at it is that nobody is going to benefit by you not making money. But if you do make money, you’ll have more to give to charity etc.

    The good thing about giving the workshops to those women is that they’ll probably tell their friends.

  12. cathlawson on September 23rd, 2008 9:43 pm

    Hi Davina - that is true and customer loyalty is one thing that will stop them from using a competitor next time round.

    Hi Avani - that is true - it doesn’t need to cost you a bean. There’s some great ideas in this discussion & hopefully it will inspire you all to come up with ways you can do this.

  13. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on September 23rd, 2008 10:11 pm

    So how long are they running this promotion? We go once a year and my wife and I both have the same birthday!!

    Being that we have a 6 month old, a 2 year old, and the two of us, if we go on April 4th we’ll all go for free! How cool is that?

    This is great marketing. Most people who go to Disneyland don’t only go for one day, they go for 2 or 3, so they make up some money there. And of course like Rita said, they gouge you once you’re inside for food and toys.

    Right now the “free” stuff we offer at eVentureBiz is more on the personal service side. For example, I’ve helped a few of our customers tweak their websites for free just because they host with us. Most other hosting companies wouldn’t do that.

    I’ve been considering creating some kind of “Members” area on our site - maybe in the forum where we can offer some kind of more personal service. Still brainstorming, though.

    One way I’ve been thinking to get some free press coverage here locally is to hold a workshop. Maybe a “how to blog” or “how to use WordPress” meeting. Of course, it would be free. I’ve got a few kinks, though - what if 300 people showed up? I don’t have that many computers.

  14. Melissa Donovan on September 23rd, 2008 10:42 pm

    Later, I’ll have to think about how I can apply this brilliant marketing strategy to my own business. For now, I’m just going to wish that it was MY birthday ;) I love Disneyland!

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Writing for Change

  15. Natural on September 24th, 2008 12:50 am

    People like money, referral fees, discounts, exclusive offers. I don’t need any more stuff, (well maybe a Wii) so I would go with the referral fee. Send me a customer, get $25.00 or $50.00.

    Natural’s last blog post..A Million Little Pieces

  16. Cath Lawson on September 24th, 2008 6:58 am

    Hi John - you lucky thing. It is on for the whole of 2009, so you’ll all get in free on your birthday. If I was you and I was going for 3 days, I’d price the difference in passes and see if you’d be better off getting the free day, or having the gift to use on food and stuff.

    A members area site sounds good. For the workshops - would they all need access to pc’s or could you just do talks, then give them a handout to take home?

    Hi Melissa - i hope you come up with something. And I hope you get to go to Disneyland on your birthday.

    Hi Valerie - The referal cash is pretty good - I’ve read about folk who’ve had a lot of success with that. Or a voucher to that value so they need to spend the cash with you.

    My daughter has a Wii. I haven’t tried Wii fit yet but I like the tennis. Trouble is, I keep forgetting that I don’t actually need to run round the room to hit the ball

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Free Gift Ideas That Help You Sell More

  17. Robin on September 24th, 2008 7:24 am

    Interesting stuff, Cath.

    We have gift vouchers for our recording studio. But we have only ever given away one as a gift ourselves (it’s a handy present to musicians!) - we could do more with it. Maybe we could think up more ways we can use them - or something else we can do as well.

    Now I come to think of it - friends of ours who have a similar studio offered studio time as a prize in a song-writing competition. hmm…

    (and maybe I could let people comment on my blog for free ha ha)

    Robin’s last blog post..Love Song To Planet Earth

  18. cathlawson on September 24th, 2008 9:58 am

    Hi Robin - it sounds like this is something you could do. With the combination of your blog topic and your recording studio - you could write a pretty interesting price release too.

  19. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on September 25th, 2008 1:48 am

    I like the handout idea. It would be nice if they had computers, but until my company over takes Yahoo I might be sticking with the handouts LOL.

  20. cathlawson on September 25th, 2008 8:42 am

    John - handouts would definitely be a lot cheaper. It sounds like a great idea though.

  21. Sean on September 27th, 2008 11:37 am

    damn! It was my birthday yesterday. I missed out.

    If only i read this earlier. oh, and lived in California (or is it Orlando?)

    Where is the disney theme park?


    Sean’s last blog post..The Best ?You Have Mail? Tone. Ever.

  22. cathlawson on September 28th, 2008 8:54 am

    Hi Sean - sorry, I should have said - it’s for 2009 birthdays, so you’ll be able to do it next year. And it’s for all US themeparks, so you’ll get in free at the California one.

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