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.

That’s not influencer marketing, that’s influencer guessing.


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.