This week I was invited, on behalf of one of my clients, to a Lake District attraction that was holding a Familiarisation Day.
If you don’t know the term, a Familiarisation Day is where people are invited, for free, to see what’s on offer. In this instance, it was so that the attendees could then talk more knowledgeably about the particular attraction and therefore encourage more visitors to go and see for themselves.
It’s a great way of marketing and often costs little to no money, so I wanted to talk a bit about giving things away for free in order to improve business, increase sales, and reach a larger audience.
The attraction I visited was Rydal Mount near Grasmere in the Lake District, which was previously the home of William Wordsworth and which is still owned by his descendants. It’s somewhere that I’ve written about plenty of times in blog posts and such like, but I’ve never actually been. It’s a little bit too far from where I live for me to travel for a visit, and not somewhere I’m likely to pass by and be able to just drop in.
However, when I received the invitation of a free visit, I thought: “why not”? I booked myself in and off I went on the allocated day.
It was beautiful there, and I loved it. It’s an old cottage with views of not one, but two different lakes, and a huge garden with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The birds were singing in the trees, the sun was shining, and the spring flowers were starting to emerge. I really enjoyed it and I now can write about it in more detail and with a more personal angle.
The result of Rydal Mount having offered a free familiarisation visit to me is that I will now go and write a blog for my client, and this can be seen by tens of thousands of people who visit my client’s website each month. And, importantly, a great majority of those will be a relevant audience for Rydal Mount – that is, people who are likely to visit the attraction.
A lot of businesses are really afraid of giving things away for free. Some are scared that it means losing a huge amount of money and others are worried that it will somehow devalue their product or service. But I don’t believe this is the case and, as long as you are smart about it, it can be an effective and cheap method of marketing.
So here are some considerations to make freebies work for you.
1. Make it cost-effective
Giving away something for free doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. In the case of Rydal Mount, the attraction was already open and the staff/volunteers were already there, so inviting a few people for free cost them absolutely nothing. Think about something you could offer that will have benefits for both you and the recipient. You don’t have to include all the bells and whistles but it does need to be good enough to draw people’s attention and get them wanting more.
2. Choose the right audience
Whether you’re reaching out directly to your customers or teaming up with other businesses to help you spread the word, be smart about who you’re offering to. Rydal Mount gave a free experience to big players in the local tourism industry who they knew would come into contact with lots of visitors to the area, and so could help spread the word. Perhaps you want to offer a free service to your past customers to bring them back to using your paid services. Or maybe you want to run a giveaway that will get your ideal customers excited enough to share across their own social media sites. Whatever you do, make sure you’re offering something appealing to the audience that is right for you.
3. Don’t overdo it
The fear of giving things away for free is that everyone will expect to get something for nothing from you, so make sure you don’t set up that precedent. Unless it will work specifically for your strategy, don’t give away your most expensive/comprehensive service or product. Give people a taste to pique their interest and have them coming back wanting more.
4. Make it exclusive
Giving away something to every Tom, Dick and Harry likely WILL be an expensive venture for you, or at the very least will bring you no additional income. By making something available only to a limited number of people, or for a limited time, makes it more desirable. This will make people more excited about it and encourage them to talk and share. A giveaway works well for this – anyone has the chance to enter, but only a limited number will attain the prize. Or offering a prize to your most loyal customers will make them feel appreciated, build trust for your brand, and make them more likely to spread the word about how fantastic you are!
5. Don’t expect miracles
Marketing isn’t a magic wand that will immediately solve all of your business woes, so don’t think of it like that. A for anything, your product/service won’t suit everyone, and effective marketing takes time and patience. Someone who hears about your product now may not get in touch for 6 months or a year later. You just need to keep showing up for them so that, when they’re ready to buy, you are there and ready for them. Give any marketing strategy a decent amount of time to gain results and keep experimenting until you find what works well for your business.
Freebies can be leveraged to work in all sorts of ways for your business, so have a strategy to help you reach your specific goals. Start with these tips and see where it takes your business!
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