Businesses are not built overnight. An idea, no matter how good, needs support in order to grow. Its infrastructure, finances, organisation and more are dependent on people and other companies working together. Once such an enterprise is established, the trickiest part, especially within the retail or entertainment industry, is to draw the public’s attention. That is where marketing and publicity come in, major tools of which are freebies and special offers. With the constant advances in technology, these opportunities are everywhere, from books to online stores to computer software. How do you rifle through them all and still get the best bargains? Focusing on the digital market, below are some suggestions on ways to approach your search and, of course, what to be wary of.
“A gift” byKristina Alexanderson (CC BY 2.0)
Why the Free Stuff?
First, it would be handy to take a closer look as to why businesses simply give things away. A clue was given in the introduction, namely to appeal to consumers and inspire them to eventually buy their product. Chocolate-manufacturing companies like Cadbury often supply free samples or even hampers to keep customers happy, attract new ones and make sure the brand remains in the spotlight. They need to do this to counter the effects of inflation in the UK, as reported by The Grocer, including a decrease in Cadbury sales by 30 million compared to 2017 and a 3.5% rise in average price per unit. While changes in consumer interests and expenditure is partially to blame for the company’s struggle, the increased prices discourage sales even more, creating a troubling cycle that only Cadbury can break by adjusting its tactics to reflect the market. They can also do so by promoting the image of the longstanding and dependable supplier of chocolate that people love and should continue to do so via their wallets.
But what if a product is not something tangible that can be displayed in a dozen boxes, like pens, or packaged with magazines, like hand cream or nail varnish? Think of free trials on Amazon Prime, Netflix and Adobe. They sacrifice months worth of revenue so customers can be sure of the quality of their services before investing in them. Technological and cosmetic brands like Philips and Elemis offer product-testing freebies, while others ask for feedback or reviews. Public opinion is vital to the survival of any business. Knowing what people like, how they respond to a product and the brand itself presents ways to improve. If done right, word of mouth in the digital age will do much of the advertising work. Again, however, it is up to the company to communicate with consumers and plan a publicity campaign that best reflects itself, adheres to demand and achieves the visibility necessary to prevail in a highly competitive market. And what wins the crowd better than freebies?
Apply for as many offers as you can and you will definitely grab something for yourself. Nets catch more than single hooks after all. It is important, though, to have realistic expectations. Hundreds of freebie hunters are out there, wanting the same things as you. And, unless the offer is for a full product, samplers tend to be considerably smaller. Do not let disappointment discourage you from trying. There is so much enjoyment to be found in every little victory.
Keep track of your activity. Remembering what you have already asked for, as well as the kinds of things you need, will make the process more effective. Unfortunately, memory is not a strong point these days with the development of our so-called ‘Digital Amnesia’, caused, according to Wink Bingo, by extreme dependency on machines. In this case, do make use of smartphone and PC tools to make lists, set reminders, bookmark domains or highlight those to avoid.
On that point, do not be fooled. Even bargains come at a price. A £100 voucher off your next Trainline.com journey typically involves lots of hoops to jump through, followed by loads of spam mail. Supermarkets would have you spend £30 for a £3 discount. Both these examples show the wisdom of reading the fine print before applying for anything, but also that paying attention to what you get in return for your loyalty can point you towards retailers with better value for money.
Among its useful suggestions, Wow Free Stuff includes a vital piece of advice: have two email addresses. As already suggested, online freebies come hand in hand with spam that can get frustrating to deal with, especially when mingled with important personal and work mail. Before even starting to apply for offers, set up a second account to be used for just that. Having another phone for the same purpose would be advisable too as cold calls will be as common as spam mail.
How To Hunt
The prospect of receiving free stuff is exciting, but getting around to it is the challenge, a manageable one once you know what you are doing. The basic method is to find sources and keep track of them. MoneyAware has a list of websites compiled by a MoneyMagpie expert and dedicated to the provision of offers. Freebie Site UK, for example, has been around since 1999, displaying items and opportunities supplied by companies that are up for grabs. You could win a bunch of snacks and free entry to an event, making for a decent day out. Freecycle works a little differently, its stock being giveaways from people, much like a charity shop, except you can claim anything that catches your eye for free, from a bed to a car. Hot UK Deals also supplies discount vouchers and competitions. Most freebie sites will function in these ways. There is much to discover online that can only be found by searching carefully and diligently.
At the same time, you can interact directly with your favourite brands. Signing up to newsletters is a good start, but companies also post their special offers on social media, so following them on Facebook or Twitter will increase your chances of grabbing the best deals. And do not limit your scope. Travel agencies, spas and amusement parks are active as much as retailers. Supporting them with likes, praising a new product or just asking them for samples are all things they actually appreciate. Joining their product-testing or ambassador ranks are even better ways to get on their generous side. A more professional approach is available if you have a blog. Bloggers and vloggers with strong followings are sought out by companies to display adverts in exchange for exclusive goodies. So building your audience and then offering your domain as marketing space are worthy and lucrative goals.
Something wished for can now be granted for free through a few simple steps. Express an interest by applying or asking for samples. Be clever and prepared to spare some time for surveys and reviews. Then wait patiently for the rewards to come in. The wider your tactically organised net, the more you are likely to gain, not just in terms of freebies, but also professional opportunities. Businesses need the public as much as the public needs bargains, for a cheaper lifestyle and a bit of amusement or self-pampering. Keep guides such as this close and go bravely into the rich online world of freebies to find treasures of your dreams and some you didn’t even know you wanted.