People like to receive free stuff.  And many smart business owners do just that.  They give free stuff to their customers, employees, partners and others who influence their business.   What kind of free stuff?

Timeshares.  I bought one of these about 6 years ago for $5,000.  It’s in Hawaii.  It’s a week at a resort.  A really nice resort.  And I’ve never used it.  The timeshare is completely legit.  It’s part of the RCI network.  The last I looked it was not under 10 feet of lava.  Some day I plan to go there.  But we’ve always had something else to do.   But each year I pay the maintenance fees.  And then I give it away.  I’ve given it to my favorite customers.  One year I gave it to an employee.  For the past two years I donated it to a Catholic Hunger Relief charity and they used it as part of their silent auction.  It raises thousands of dollars.  No, I’m not really that charitable.  It’s just that the charity is run by largest client and that makes him happy.  Timeshares are an excellent thing to give away.  Remember, we’re only talking about the week – the recipient is responsible for getting there on their own. But who wouldn’t like a week in Vegas or Disney in February?  And how can this not be good for business?

People like gift cards too.  Try Plastic Jungle.  They offer gift cards to most major retailers/restaurants at a discount.  There are others like them so shop around.  The way they work is this:  someone gets a gift card for $100 they don’t like.  They sell to Plastic Jungle for a steep discount, but at least it’s something.  Plastic Jungle then marks it up and sells it for a discount off the list price, usually 10-20%.  You buy a gift a card for TGI Fridays or Bed Bath & Beyond.  In fact, you should buy 10 or 20.  Then at various times of the year you should give the card away to whoever you like.  Hopefully someone with a strategic value to your business.  Who wouldn’t want a free gift card.  And on the spur of the moment?

A once a month gift is great too.  Try Amazing Clubs or Godiva Chocolates.  Pick a customer that you like and send them a $25 box of chocolates or food basket.  It doesn’t have to be Christmas.  Anytime during the year is great.  It’s a surprise and it’s fun.  Be sure to address the gift to the customers’ employees, like the sales department or the office staff…the people who you deal with that don’t get much credit.  They will love you.  And your customers will love you.  And it’s relatively inexpensive.

Finally, go to Café Press or any of the other websites that sell promotional items.  When you have events during the year, like client lunches or seminars (you are doing this, right?) then hand out something free with your logo on it.  They have no minimum order.  You can put your logo on anything – a T-shirt, coffee mug…whatever.  People like this stuff.  They’ll bring it home and keep it for years (I have coffee mugs dating back to the ‘90’s in my kitchen).  And you’re getting free branding and a kind reminder.  It’s free, but it lasts a long time.

Free stuff?  People love it.  Your customers love it.  Work it into your marketing budget this year.  You’ll see it pay off over time.