Wow Them With Giveaways

Promotional marketing techniques that get buyers to spend money

by Janelle Elms
- Sep 21, 2009

I'm unsure why people think that just handing me a business card is going to engage me enough to get me to part with my money. As a consumer, I have many choices; a lot of companies are trying to get me to buy from them and, at the moment, I'm less willing to hand over the dough.

So how can you change my mind and get my money? Don't be typical—stand out. Take me away from traditional thinking about what you're trying to sell me. Allow your enthusiasm and excitement about your product or service to wow me.

In recent articles, we looked at useful marketing gimmicks for promoting your business and how to more effectively use your business card to achieve your marketing goals. In this article, we'll cover tips for wowing customers with your giveaways and marketing materials (not to mention, getting them to spend money).

Be flexible with your marketing

I was recently at Creation Fest '09 out at the Gorge in Washington. It was a very beautiful venue but it was so hot and there was no shade. Vendors were having a hard time getting customers to come by their booths. I then saw a brilliant retailer come up with an idea to market their products. Out to the main walkway of this outdoor event went two employees, each wearing a T-shirt with the business' Web site on it.

The vendor empowered these employees with two things that made this on-the-spot marketing opportunity a success: postcards containing product information and a water soaker/sprayer. People were flocking to get sprayed by the cooling water—and they weren't walking away without first getting one of those postcards.

Every time I use that screwdriver, I'm reminded of the great product I received from that seller

Make your promotion match your product

Not long ago, I ordered a variety of light-switch plates from various online artists. I opened the first one. There was the light-switch plate I ordered wrapped in bubble wrap—that was it. The second one came in an envelope and included one of the free Vista Print business cards. For some reason the business card was about the artist's jewelry business. Even if I had kept her business card, I would have never connected her again with light-switch plates.

The third light-switch plate wasn't wrapped any differently, but the package did include another great product: This seller had thrown in a promotional item advertising their business name, e-mail address and Web site. It wasn't a business card or postcard; it was a mini screwdriver. Exactly what I needed to put up my new light-switch plate!

It was such a delightful surprise. I, of course, saved it. Every time I pull that screwdriver out of the drawer to use it, I smile a little at the unique idea, and I'm reminded of the great product I received from that seller.

Be willing to do what it takes

I was walking through the local mall when I encountered a rather tall man, completely covered in bright-colored Post-it notes. People were gathering around him to find out what he was doing and what he was handing out. Curiosity didn't kill the cat, but it sure drove these potential customers crazy. They couldn't wait to find out what he was "selling"—neither could I. Upon a closer inspection, he was promoting an online reminder service. Brilliant! And he made sure that the hoards flocking to him all left with information about the company.

grannie annie

Be aggressive with your marketing

Grannie Annie from Hawaii doesn't let anything stand in the way of making sure you know about her products. Besides being one of the most insightful businesswomen I know, at 72 years old, she's also rocking the marketing part of her business. Check out the scooter (pictured, right) she travels to events with.

There's no empty space—the whole thing is covered in marketing messages. And her basket contains a marketing arsenal of business cards, postcards and samples she hands out to literally everyone in her path. Her marketing is focused with one simple pitch: Go to her eBay Store at

Use your tools in new ways

One of my favorite things to do is walk down Fifth Avenue in New York and window-shop, especially during the weeks following Thanksgiving. Everyone has such incredible window displays that just stun me. But that's all they ever did. They never inspired me to actually go in and buy items.

Then there was the window that got it. Inside was yet another incredible display with a fabulous outfit. But on the outside of the window was painted information about the clothing, the Web site link where you could purchase it, and a request to join the online group and talk about what you thought of the outfit.

The retailer was not only giving people an opportunity to spend money (especially outside of store hours), but they were also creating an active community that would participate in future promotions and purchases.

Align your marketing to the world of your buyer

The opera world is struggling with an aging audience and no upcoming customer base of 20 to 30 year olds. The opera establishment realizes it not only needs this age group to grow into the traditional opera audience; it also realizes this age group has more disposable income than any has in the past, and could help financially support this art world.

None of these ideas took a lot of money, just a bit of creativity and thought about who the customers are

Speight Jenkins, director of the Seattle Opera, is over 70 years old, yet this summer he announced a contest called "Confessions of a First-time Opera Goer." The rules were simple: Send in a video test of your announcer skills and say why you should have a behind the scenes sneak peak at the opera world. These videos were posted and voted on. Genius.

The Seattle Opera did very little work. The customers they were seeking did all of the marketing, using a medium they're very familiar with. These video links were, of course, sent to the family and friends of the entrants, engaging possible additional customers. And since they were done by people who didn't know about opera, the videos allowed others to let their guards down toward this usually pretentious event. Seattle Opera now has a younger, hip spokeswoman working for free, and creating a lot of powerful viral marketing press.

The promotion continues with the winner doing video updates on her adventures in the opera house.

As you can see, for the most part, none of these ideas took a lot of money, just a bit of creativity and thought about who the customers are. Do I use business cards and postcards in my business? Yes, but they definitely don't look like the traditional versions of these. I also have bright-orange Rock Star graphics on the back of my car with my Web site and the phrase, "Choose Success. Are you ready to be a Rock Star?" People stop me all the time and ask about my business.

With my other business, Mermaid Caramels, I have an easy and simple way to do my marketing: I hand out samples. The soft sea-salt caramel is put into a small plastic envelope along with the business card that includes the Web site address. It's then sealed with a Mermaid Caramels sticker. The teal and brown branding is very visible, my call to action is included and most important, as soon as they taste the product, I know I will have an order coming. The total marketing package only costs about 6 cents more than just handing out the business card!

So how can you think different about your products, service and business today? What does your customer's world look like, and how can you be part of that in order to attract them?

I can't wait to hear your phenomenal marketing stories.

About the Author

Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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