How to giveaway free product the right way

How to giveaway free product the right way

If you run a business, chances are you've been asked to giveaway your product to a company or event. They usually promise exposure and brand awareness, but they never seem to have any marketing budget to pay for your product (funny that).

It's not just the cost of the goods you need to consider. Your time to communicate and oragnise the giveaway is valuable. And then there's postage too. I could consider it worthwhile if the opportunity shot your business into household name status.... but somehow it never does.

In my 2 years of gifting product, I've learnt 5 important takeaways. They'll teach you why giveaways don't work as they're presented to you. Afterwards, I'll show you some of the better opportunities and how to make the most of them.

5 lessons from giving away product

1. The attendees haven't paid for the goods, which makes them seem less valuable

We value items we pay for, and, as the price goes higher, the part of our brain which processes rewards increases our sense of enjoyment. This is a pricing bias and it is a very real part of human psychology. Given that most attendees at events are gifted goodie bags (with your product inside them), this means the value perceived by them is close to zero.

When you giveaway your product for free, you immediately give your receive pricing bias because the value is no longer there for them.
When we know a wine is more expensive, our brain enjoys it more. Where does that leave your free product?


2. The goodie bag isn't the star of the event

When I think about events I've attended and goodie bags I've received, I have rarely felt excited about what's in my bag (it's more of a nice-to-have than the star of my night). If this is true for me, then it's probably true for others too. Now think about how many brands have poured their products into these bags, only for the receiver to have this kind of attitude.

When you giveaway product, this is the type of response you can expect to receive.
Ouch, "getting around" to my product? That doesn't sound promising.


3. Influencers aren't going to post about your product

Most events have influencers attending them and companies like to dangle them in front of you to convince you to come onboard. Firstly, an influencer doesn't just go to an event - they're invited and they're usually paid to be there. Secondly, no influencer is going to post about your product for free - they already have cupboards full of product and struggle to fit paid brands in their feed anyway. Thirdly, you don't get to choose what influencer is attending the event so how do you know they're going to be the right fit for your brand? You don't.

When you giveaway your product, Instagram influencers should not be a part of your decision making process.
Blue circles are sponsored posts. Not a lot of space or even the right fit for us.

Relying on the hope of said influencers posting about your product shouldn't make up a part of your decision process as to whether you participate or not.


4. You have limited and ineffective ways to track return

If you giveaway your product, you want to know if it amounted to anything. Finding ways to track your return on gifting is murky at best. You can track website traffic after the event and monitor user-generated content, but that won't tell you how many hands your product made it into... or how many bins.

It's difficult to track product that you giveaway, even with proven methods.
50 Shades Darker launched with our support on February 9th. This is our website traffic for the month.


5. The brand awareness is usually worthless

When Michael and I were invited to be product sponsors for the launch of 50 Shades Darker, we were excited. Here was an opportunity to giveaway product that was a) perfectly suited to our target audience and b) a huge partnership with a large company.

Flyers on logos don't work, just like when you giveaway free product for nothing in return.
Remember that brand that sponsored 50 Shades Darker? Yeah, me either.

I greyed out the other brands in the flyer out of respect but I want to be very clear - while we both look back on the event as a great experience (mainly because we had a great night with a few of our customers), we had absolutely zero return on our involvement.

How to giveaway product the right way

When there are scalable and trackable ways to grow your business, I find it difficult to justify gifting product. But, in saying that, there are some opportunities which I think can be great for your business and we often giveaway product from our own business in these very specific cases.

1. A charity or cause you care about

One of the pleasures of business is being able to help people through what you've created. Having the opportunity to giveaway your product to a charity very rarely shows a quantifiable return, but it feels good to do it and in a lot of ways, I think it's helped define what Trefiel stands for.

2. A partner you work with in other ways

Supporting companies who support you not only strengthens the relationship long-term, but it helps you both to create something that may not have been possible on your own. We did this for Trefiel when we partnered with Travel Plus, one of our stockists. TravelPlus is a travel agent and with their help, we were able to giveaway a Bali getaway and run a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote it.

Work with your stockists to giveaway great prizes for your customers and community.
This was easily Trefiel's best giveaway and it wouldn't have been possible without our supportive partners.

You only need a little creativity to identify what your customers would love to receive from both parties involved.

3. Swap marketing for product (or marketing)

Being paid for your product is always the first priority. But, it's not always possible and that's where being creative to make an opportunity work comes into play.

Here are some of the options we use when we giveaway product for our own business and for our clients:

  1. Swapping email lists or swapping an email to drive traffic to each parties site. Be sure to protect yourself and get the best value from this - if you're not the main message in the email, no one cares.
  2. Swapping product for equal RRP between the two parties means you can run a Gift With Purchase campaign. It gives your customers more value in their order and thus, more incentive to purchase.
  3. Creating a content campaign around your involvement. This can be an in-depth task for both parties involved, so I usually save this offer for larger companies that reach out to us. They have the time and the team, which makes it easier to persuade them.

This is only the start of what you can suggest when you're approached by another company to giveaway your product.


giveaway gift with purchase campaign marketing ecommerce
Partnering up with like-minded businesses to swap product is a great way to give more to your customers.

It's not all about you, you, you

This post has focused on making sure you as the gifter get an adequate return. But I want to end this by reminding you that you should be as involved in promoting the other company, as they are you. Always focus on giving value as much as receiving it.

The ultimate goal with product sponsorship (and marketing in general)

Work together to create something your community loves and your partners loved being a part of.

This is what I love most about marketing and campaigns -  I get to help other businesses create something that does both.

Case Study: How I tripled our client's sales with a giveaway campaign

When IME Natural Perfume came to us, they were struggling to see traction with online sales, email list growth and return.

I was hired to change that.

I used a giveaway of $1000 worth of clean beauty products and promoted it organically on social media. With my campaign, I helped my client to:

  • Double the size of their email list
  • Gain a combined 1000+ new followers on Instagram and Facebook
  • Gain 1400 answers to questions which will help the company improve their future marketing
  • Triple their sales over the 18 day period

Other than my time, my client spent only $50 on marketing their competition.

In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through exactly what I did and by the end of this article, you'll learn:

  1. How to choose the right prize to entice your audience to enter
  2. How much time and budget you'll need for a campaign like this
  3. How to monetise your new audience with a consolation prize email sequence

Let's dive into it!

Step One - Strategy

Entry methods

My client wanted to boost sales and grow their email list for future monetisation, so I designed a campaign around that. I wanted our entrants to feel their best shot at winning was by entering their email and making a purchase, so I gave those entry methods more weight than other methods (like following social media profiles for instance).

As well as this, while talking to my client in the initial meetings for this project I realised how little I know about the customers for this business. Because of this, I included questions which would help us understand them better and would help drive the companies marketing in the future.

Choosing the right prize

In order to achieve my client's goals, I needed a prize that was worth the audience's time to enter. With the help of my client and Kristina Ioannou from We Are Eden, we worked together to organise the prizes and make sure that the brands posted in the required timeline.


We chose brands our client's customers would love to create a prize pack that would boost sales.
This campaign is another great example of how important it is to choose brand's that align with your target market. Otherwise, you end up with an email list that's useless.

How do you choose a prize that resonates with your target audience? It comes down your business and your product:

  1. Define 4-5 core selling points of your product (for example natural, plant-based, vegan, toxin-free).
  2. Find other brands using your product's selling points as hashtags on Instagram
  3. DM or email them and ask them if they'd like to be a part of it.

That's really how simple it is!


I already had a good idea of what the prize would be and I knew that while it wasn't a worth of a flash giveaway (1-2 days duration), a $1000 prize pack wasn't enough to warrant a one month long campaign either. It's always best to err on the side of caution when deciding on time frame, so I chose 14 days for this one. Not too short, not too long either.

Platforms for distribution

Before I start planning the content or setting up the competition, I need to know where I'll be distributing the content to promote the campaign. My client had a small budget, so I had to leverage as much unpaid advertising and marketing as I could to make sure it was a success.

In this case, I chose to use:

  1. Email - to re-engage their existing list in a fun, novel way
  2. Facebook - an existing channel that has decent engagement, but more manoeuvrability with advertising
  3. Instagram - the most active channel with the biggest sense of community
  4. Our brand partner relationships - these would help us reach new audiences without having to pay for them, much like an influencer.

If you have more budget, here are some other great ways to promote your campaign:

  • Work with related influencers who align with your brand to bring new leads to the competition
  • Use boosted posts to target new people outside of your usual audience
  • Use relevant and targeted Facebook groups and other online communities (like Reddit) to advertise the giveaway. This is a great way to build trust in communities which otherwise wouldn't let you advertise your products.

Step Two - Set Up

I decided to use Gleam to run the competition for three reasons:

  1. It's easy to track and validate entries
  2. It automatically opens and shuts the competition so you don't have to
  3. It integrates into websites easily so you can create a dedicated landing page for the competition (important if you're running retargeting ads for anyone that visits your site).

Step Three - Creating the pillars of content

When I plan a campaign, I like to think of it in four phases:

  • Launch
  • Build
  • Climax
  • Post

For each phase, I block out the core content I need to promote the campaign for each part. For this project, it looked like this:

Launch Phase

  1. 1 Tease Email
  2. 1 Launch Email
  3. 1 Launch Facebook Post
  4. 1 Launch Instagram Post

Build Phase

  1. 1 Reminder Email
  2. 1 Reminder Facebook Post
  3. 1 Reminder Instagram Post
  4. Use all of brand partner's posts during this phase to continue to drive traffic to the campaign

Climax Phase

  1. 1 Reminder Email
  2. 1 Reminder Facebook Post
  3. 1 Reminder Instagram Post

Post Phase

  1. 3 Consolation Emails
  2. 1 Winner Announcement Facebook Post
  3. 1 Winner Announcement Instagram Post.

From here, I know what I need to talk about when and I used the strategical structure of the campaign to drive the creative side.

Step Four - Creating the content

I like to start my campaigns by writing emails because these generally use the most direct language to achieve the goal for the email. I then repurposed this copy for the relevant social media posts and worked with my designer to create assets that would stop the user in the feed and encourage them to look at the caption.

Step Five - Deploying & managing the campaign

This phase is basically admin work and involves our team working to deploy the campaign across all of the channels I've chosen. I'll schedule posts and emails, apply boosts and set reminders for posts or emails that can't be sent with current data - for example, I wanted to send a reminder email halfway through the campaign to encourage those who hadn't entered to do so, but I couldn't set that up until we had a list of entrants that I could exclude from the recipients.

Aside from small tasks like this, a campaign will usually run itself fairly smoothly. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the reporting throughout as it can help you understand how it's performing and identify efforts which are and aren't working. For example, I used our campaign reporting to keep an eye on which brand's posts performed well so that I could identify the ones who's audiences were most aligned with our clients. With this information, I can approach these brands to work with them again on a more exclusive campaign.


A 41% conversion rate is fantastic and when you combine it with the boost sales, this was a hugely successful marketing campaign.
This is a great sign for the prize being the right fit for the intended audience. As well, in this graph you can see when our brand partners posted and which audiences responded well. This can help you organise campaigns with the same brands in the future.

I saw a consistent 41% conversion rate throughout the duration of the competition (this is an awesome result).

Step Six - Post Campaign

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking once a campaign is over, your work is done. The post campaign phase is my favourite because it offers the opportunity to activate your new subscribers (and non-winners) with a consolation prize.

That's exactly what I did for this campaign. I used 3 emails over a 48 hour period to provide our list with an offer and used the looming deadline as an incentive to act on that offer.

Sometimes the biggest boost sales is after the campaign has closed/
Here you can see the huge upswing in sales at the end of the campaign, which is when my closing email series fired. Powerful stuff.

When you do this for your own business, you'll need to make sure that you have your email provider set up correctly so that you only send the reminder emails to the subscribers who haven't purchased from the series.

Step Nine - Analysis

The final part of the campaign is going through the information I've collected, specifically focusing on the sales, email list growth and the questions answered by the customers. The biggest focus for this part is determining what the ROI was and whether it would be a good idea to run another campaign similar to this. For this project, the return was fantastic and I would highly recommend this client running more campaigns in the future.

Final Thoughts

With Christmas fast approaching, testing the waters with campaigns like this can be an effective and relatively cheap way to prepare for the busiest time of the year. A competition like this is simple to set up and could be run easily by your own in-house team (or even on your own).

But if you're not sure where to start or you just don't have time to organise something like this, send me an email and let's talk.

Here's what IME Natural Perfume had to say about working with us -

"Absolutely loved having you guys come on board for the campaign. It has been a huge help in getting my head around what was lacking and how I can make improvements. The work was completed above and beyond what I imagine".

My favourite part about marketing is running campaigns because a) it's easy to get a return for your business and b) it's a great way to give back to your community. That's how marketing should be.

How to grow your community using Snapchat & Instagram Stories

You want to grow your community, but it's becoming more and more difficult.

You've noticed a decline in your organic reach and the ever-changing algorithms on Instagram and Facebook make it almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, great video content on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories always wins because it's intimate, easy to consume and transient.

Putting in the time with these platforms has had a huge impact on our own business...

  • Our customer retention rate is over 40%
  • The average number of boxes one of our Pamper Club subscribers receives over their lifetime is 6 boxes
  • We maintained 5-star rating on our store and Facebook for more than 2 years
  • We see a 22% conversion rate on our 'Swipe Up' posts for Snapchat & Instagram Stories

Today, I want to share with you exactly:

  1. How to get started
  2. What video content we posted on these platforms
  3. How often you should post

By the end of this post, you'll know how you to grow your community too. Let's dive in!

Q. How do I get started with Snapchat & Instagram Stories video content?

There's really only three steps to getting started with either of these platforms:

  1. Download the app
  2. Set up an account
  3. Start uploading videos

I know what you're thinking.

The thought of getting in front of the camera and talking to an unknown person on the other side (or worse, nobody) is daunting. Here's the one tip I can give you that will help you overcome that fear...

No one cares.

The sooner you realise that, the sooner you can let go of those insecurities and begin to grow your community using these platforms.

Q. What types of video content should I upload?

For this particular question, I think you and I should chat face-to-face.

Q. How often should I upload content on these platforms?

There are two answers to this question:

  1. As often as you can throughout the day without it affecting your work; and
  2. As consistently as you can over a long period of time (at least 12 months to start with).

You want to grow your community as fast as you can, but the truth is it's a long, hard slog to get traction on these platforms. You have to show up every day, care about providing value and really try to connect with the person on the other end. It's the only way.

Q. How do I grow my followers or views on these channels?

Growing your followers

Instagram Stories is fairly straight-forward:

  1. Post interesting content, consistently
  2. Run ads on the channel for specific business objectives (but only when you need them)
  3. Use posts on other profile (either paid posts or leverage relationships) to grow your audience

For Snapchat, it requires more foresight and work:

  1. Post interesting content, consistently
  2. Make sporadic posts on other, relevant platforms to drive traffic to the channel
  3. Use onboarding email flows to encourage joining
  4. Show sneak peaks on other platforms to pique curiosity
  5. Change your social media profiles to include your Snapchat username

Growing your views

There's one factor that all social media personalities have in common...

They all turn up the dial on their personality to be more 'exciteable'

Why do you need to do this?

It's far more entertaining to watch and it brings the viewer into the same level of energy as you (it's usually a boost in mood for them). If you can make people feel good when they watch you, you'll grow - it's just a matter of time.

Q. Isn't Snapchat dead?

Not yet, so keep uploading!

Ready, set, upload!

A lot of businesses are out to take every dollar they can from their customers and usually when they contact their customer, it's to ask for a sale. But imagine if you were the business in your industry that nurtured your audience by:

  • Involving them in your long-term vision of the company
  • Sharing the behind-the-scenes of your business
  • Providing them with relevant and educational information that helps them to make better decisions
  • Getting to know them better on a personal level
  • Giving them access to exclusive offers they won't find anywhere else

As a business, Snapchat and Instagram Stories are powerful because they allow you to become the expert of your industry, straight from your customer's pocket. You can talk to them any time you want and they've already qualified themselves as interested in what you have to say because they followed your profile.

That's the power of video. Try it for yourself.