man serving free food samples

Should You Give It Away For Free?

As business owners, you will often be asked about giving away your products or services for free. Whether it is the local school who needs sponsorship dollars or the customer who “really really” wants or needs your product, but can not afford it, the struggle is real.  

So today, I want to give you three concrete ideas to think about before you say “yes” to that pesky gut feeling that you should just give it away.

Building Your Portfolio

Will giving your products or services away for free provide you with the opportunity to “showcase” your products or services later on?  Can you use pro bono work as a way to build your portfolio? If the answer is yes, strategically giving away services can make sense.

At The Biz Foundry, when we’re asked to donate something to a school or nonprofit, I donate a gift certificate for our space rentals.  It offers the group something to auction off, and  means we will have events in our space that may not likely be here otherwise.  It allows us to showcase our product (the space rental) in a way that can help us boost sales later.  In our case, it also allows other people to come into our space and see what we have going on.  

So, if the “giveaway” could reach more people than just the end user, it might be something to consider.  

Using A Freebie as a Lead Magnet

It can often be helpful to give a sample of your product or service away to get the prospective customer a taste of what you offer and get them wanting more.  

Remember the days of walking through the grocery story on Saturday morning and all the samples they would give out?  Cheese, sausage, drinks!  Those were great as a kid.  Free samples always got me begging for that item to go into our shopping cart.  

You will not always get the sale from a lead magnet, but you will get more than you did without it. 

Use a marketing budget to give yourself wiggle room

There’s always that outlier who just tugs at your heartstrings and you really want to help. It’s totally okay to give from the heart. Just set aside part of your marketing budget to allow for offering free products or services for when those situations arise.  This way you can give things away without feeling conflicted. 

At the end of day, the decision to give things away for free is up to you. Trust your instincts and definitely have an idea of the best situations to do so. Having a plan keeps you from giving more than you can afford or feeling conflicted.

More on this topic

I’ve talked about this topic on Cashin’ The Check in the episode “Give it away for free?”, so be sure to give that a listen too. 

If you are interested in listening to any of the other episodes of Cashin the Check, our podcast with the Small Business Development Center, you can listen wherever you listen to podcasts or check it out on our YouTube channel

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