Marketing Tip: Give Free Stuff to Your Clients

Want to get your clients’ attention? Give them free stuff. By “free” I don’t mean “free, but with a catch.” (And I’m definitely not talking about tchotchkes.) I mean something that’s completely free, as in “no strings attached.”

Ideally, your gift will yield one in return—a new account, perhaps, or customer loyalty or a referral. But don’t go into this arrangement expecting something for your expression of generosity. All you can do is hope (and cross your fingers) that such freebies improve your clients’ perception of your unique value proposition.

Used effectively, gifts can help you build mutually beneficial relationships with your clients: if your contributions help your clients do well, then you’ll do well too. Some free stuff aims to make clients’ jobs easier; others have no goal but to brighten their day and make them smile. Take a look at the following suggestions:

  • Read any good business books lately? If you’ve come across one that you think a client would enjoy because it’s relevant to his role or organization, drop a copy in the mail to him (with a handwritten note).

  • The old saying “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” still rings true today (and applies equally to a woman!). So take your client out to lunch or coffee, not as a formal business meeting but as a casual get-together. (Alternatively, send your client gift cards to a local restaurant or coffee shop.)

  • Give each new client a free subscription to HR Insights or Labor & Industrial Insights. I’m not making a shameless plug here: the magazine really works as an effective relationship-building tool! For example, as part of its new-client onboarding process, one Mamu Media client uses the magazine to keep the company top of mind with clients while sharing timely and relevant information with them.

  • Have a client who’s a wine aficionado? Send her a gift subscription to a wine-of-the-month club. (A variation on this theme is a coffee-of-the-month club.)

  • Throw a pizza party for a client—for no particular reason whatsoever. Treat either the entire company (if it’s a small operation) or (for a larger organization) the department in which you’ve placed the most temporary employees. Be sure to coordinate with your contacts at the company so they can communicate the event internally and help out with some of the logistics.

  • If your office doesn’t have free on-site parking, always pick up the tab (for meters, garages, paid lots, etc.) for parking fees whenever your clients visit you.

  • Do some research for a client on a topic that’s relevant to his business, then send him a copy of your writing (including plenty of suggested actions he can take).

I’ve seen all of those examples in the field myself. I’ve used them with my own clients, been on the receiving end of them, or have seen my clients use them. And I’ve seen firsthand their positive contributions to relationship building, so I know that they work.

These are just a few ideas, however. I’m sure you can come up with many more that suit your own context—just think about ways you can help your clients. If you focus on meeting their needs as your prime motivation for handing out freebies, you’ll find that in the long term, that free stuff will help you out as well!


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