Everyone loves a bargain – or better, free stuff! Small business owners can use this to their advantage with creative promotions and giveaways. If you need to elevate your brand and attract more business, a giveaway can help you meet those goals. The right giveaway will appeal to both your current customers base as well as new shoppers.
How can a business giveaway help my company?
Provide information in an organic way
When you launch your giveaway campaign, you have a great opportunity to introduce or reintroduce your business to a targeted consumer audience. That’s because, unlike most advertisements, business giveaways come with an incentive likely to engage your audience. They’re also a chance for you to bring personality to your business and clearly identify your brand.
Outline why you are different
Giveaways can be used to remind audiences of the specifics of what you have to offer, how you are unique, and why you are better than similar businesses. This reminder is a matter of posting and sharing meaningful photos, videos, and descriptions of the products or services you’re giving away. Instead of explicitly promoting what’s great and one-of-a-kind about what your business offers, just describe what contest entrants can win to show your value.
Attract new audiences
Free giveaways are a great way to appeal to specific demographics where you need to improve the numbers. Giveaways are a valuable way to sharpen your focus on the targets you really care about. For example, if you know that a certain segment of your target audience is interested in your product but hasn’t been buying it as much lately, give that product away. With this approach, you’ll get the right people to enter the contest.
Why do businesses do giveaways?
One of the most popular reasons giveaways are attractive to business owners is the price. Compared to traditional advertising, running an in-store or social media giveaway online won’t crunch your marketing budget.
Giveaways also help you customize size and scope. If your budget is 50 tote bags, you can easily stick to that number. A giveaway can be a good way to gather customer contact information. But don’t abuse that benefit – unsolicited email can turn off a potential or current customer in an instant.
Small business giveaway ideas
Throw a successful contest with the below business giveaway ideas:
1. Traditional Coupons
A simple coupon may sound boring, but you can jazz it up to get a strong ROI. An effective coupon is visually appealing, easy-to-read, and has a strong call to action. Use a freelancer marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork and find a professional artist to design your ad. In addition to placing a coupon in a local paper or magazine, you can also partner with another small business and ask them to display a stack of coupons or include one along with their customer’s purchase.
2. Digital Coupons
If you’ve built a customer email list, you can simply email a well-designed digital coupon. Posting a digital coupon on your social networks is another fast and easy way to get your coupon out there. Make sure your post is sharable so your followers can share your coupon post with their friends or family.
3. Themed Gift Bundle
Take a look at our annual promotions calendar to see what holidays or observances are coming up. Create a bundle of items to giveaway around a central theme. For example, a Valentine’s Day themed basket giveaway could include champagne, chocolates and a coupon for a romantic dinner or couple’s massage. A back-to-school bundle might consist of school supplies, a flash drive and school-friendly snacks in a new backpack.
4. Gift Cards
Giveaway gift cards that you’d like to receive yourself and have broad appeal. Starbucks, Amazon, Target, or popular restaurant gift cards are always good bets. Alternatively, create some gift cards for use at your store to give your target audience an easy way to try your products without spending their own money. Gift cards are a flexible way for the winners to get what they want.
5. Limited Edition Products
One strategy used by big businesses is to create ‘limited edition’ items. Product scarcity can increase demand and create a sense of value. A limited-edition product is a unique, branded item created and sold for a certain time period in a specific market. You’ve probably seen limited edition products across many industries. For example, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream created a limited edition Bernie’s Yearnings flavor for former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. They then built a giveaway around the flavor.
6. Branded Products
This approach is a win-win. The customer gets a prize and you get your name out there. There are an endless number of high-quality products – beyond office supplies – that you can brand with your name or logo. Glassware, outerwear, stylish beanies, computer tote bags, headphones and more can all be branded for a giveaway. Check out this article from the SmartBiz blog with things to think about before you order promotional products: Promotional Items for Your Small Business.
7. A Year’s Worth of Products or Services
At SmartBiz Loans, we recently held a contest for our newsletter subscribers. The prize was a year’s supply of coffee from SmartBiz customer Denim Coffee. The winner is receiving 1 bag of coffee beans a month for 12 months. You can do something similar with your own products or services.
Of course, this won’t work well if your business sells big, expensive items. But, like we did with the coffee, you can give away a year’s worth of products from another company. Choose a small business in your community to show support for other entrepreneurs.
8. An Experience
Think about your target audience and design an experience that they’ll appreciate. For example, if your shoppers are parents, consider giving away tickets to a local theme park. Do you target women? How about a spa day or wine tasting with friends? If you have millennials as customers, tickets to a local concert or an evening at an escape room would be appreciated.
9. Pay a Bill
What’s better than having a monthly bill taken care of? Offer to make a car payment, pay an electric bill, take care of a tuition cost or something else that appeals to your customers. In doing so, you build a relationship with the customer that can persuade them to choose you the next time they need products like yours. Plus, given how much you’ve saved them on bills, they’ll have more money to spend with you. (Of course, you’ll need to set a monetary limit).
10. Photo and Video Captions and Contests
Post a funny or interesting photo on your social networks, then announce that, for a chance to win a prize, people can comment with funny or clever photo captions. Alternatively, hold a video or photo contest where entrants post content with your product so their followers learn about your brand. How you structure the entry process for this type of contest is up to you – as long as you make the rules clear, you could be flooded with content.
11. New Logo and Slogan Contests
If you’re in need of a new logo or slogan, getting your target audience involved in the process is an excellent business giveaway idea. Allow anyone to submit their ideas for your logo or slogan, then have your audience vote on their favorites. Offer a free item or another great prize to one or a few winners. This way, your giveaway gets you the logo or slogan you’ve long needed while engaging your audience with your brand.
12. Hashtag Contest
There are numerous benefits of developing business hashtags, and you can have your audience help you come up with these as well. Try hosting a giveaway in which one or a few people who come up with outstanding hashtags earn a prize. Have your audience again vote on the best choice to keep engagement and participation high. As with a logo or slogan, this business giveaway idea both markets your company and addresses your other business needs.
13. Sweepstakes and Raffles
Online sweepstakes are a great way to gather customer email addresses and grow your email list while giving a few lucky winners hands-on experience with your offerings. A traditional in-person raffle for which the price of entry is an email address achieves the same goal. You might want to make the prize one of your products or at least a discount on a future purchase to start developing contest winners’ brand loyalty.
Surveys combine the power of customer feedback and promotional giveaways into one. Offer customers the chance to answer a few questions online or via phone for a chance to win a discount or gift card. This way, you get meaningful feedback about the customer experience while encouraging customers to buy from you again.
15. Free Items with Every Purchase
You know how your favorite taco takeout spot also gives you free chips and salsa with every order? You can do the same with your products and services. Give away a small item or two – ideally branded with your logo – every time a customer buys something from you. This way, buyers remember your name with every purchase and become more compelled to purchase from your company again.
16. Wheel of Fortune
We’ve all walked past that branded table on the street with the giveaway wheel where you can earn a pen or a bottle opener. You too can make this highly interactive giveaway idea happen for your business. Divide your wheel into evenly sized spaces, have five or six types of branded freebies on hand, and be prepared to give everything away. Bonus points if you couple your freebies with brochures, business cards, or other explicitly promotional materials.
17. Free Consultation
Admittedly, most business giveaway idea lists like these cater more to companies with tangible products than service providers. The thing is, you don’t need physical stock to host a meaningful giveaway. Instead, try offering free consultations as a prize for your next contest. Whoever wins gets a no-cost, no-obligation one-on-one with you to see how well your services shine. If you impress the winner, converting them to a customer should be a breeze.
18. Free Upgrade
Another great idea if you lack physical stock: Give away a free upgrade from a lower service tier to a higher one. Keep the winner’s upgrade in place for at least a year, though be sure that your contest’s entry rules and terms and conditions clearly state how long the promotion lasts. If you run this contest many times, you might get customers upgrading on their own after enough times losing and feeling disappointed. That’s more money for you with minimal marketing costs.
Don’t forget about the rules
If you’ve launched a giveaway contest, you’ll need official terms and conditions. There are a number of online templates you can use. The rules will need to be available – either written and displayed or posted on your website. If you’re running your giveaway via social media, review this article to keep it legal: Social Media Contests and the Law.
How to host a social media business giveaway
Don’t miss a step when setting up your giveaway.
- Choose a platform : Most contests can be run online via a platform you should already be active on. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the most used but research where your target customers search and shop to maximize results.
- Pick your entry parameters : Determine how to enter and how winners will be selected and notified. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Customers don’t want complex systems. Keep it simple.
- State the rules : Use a template or work with a legal professional to create your rules and make them available.
- Update your contest entrants : Remind your audience of the deadline to enter your contest as the date approaches. Keep your audience informed of the date when you’ll announce your winner.
- Keep your promise : Fulfill the giveaway as promised and outlined in your rules. Make sure to choose a winner, ideally using a randomizer to minimize bias. Don’t forget to congratulate or acknowledge the winners post-giveaway.