- Product giveaways can help small businesses get social-media followers and find new audiences.
- Consumers are thought to prefer promotional products over other types of marketing.
- Small businesses share how they run giveaways and the benefits they see.
- This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.
During the March Madness college basketball tournament this year, the pet-treats brand Bocce’s Bakery started its own competition, asking its Instagram followers to tag the brand in photos of their pet to win a box of goodies. The brand chose its favorites and asked followers to vote to select the winner.
The giveaway earned the brand a 62% boost in daily follower traffic and the pet photos provided valuable user-generated content, which the company has used in email newsletters and on its website, Wendy Wen, the founder and CEO of Antelope Pets, which owns Bocce’s Bakery, told Insider.
“There’s so much excitement that arises whenever we do a giveaway, and the fun stories and photos that people share show just how much passion there is from dog lovers,” she said.
The Advertising Specialty Institute says promotional products are consumers’ favorite type of advertising.
“People love to get things,” Oana Borcoman, the founder and CEO of the experience-marketing agency Evoke Experiences, told Insider. “Giveaways are one of the best things any business can do for a relatively low cost.”
Giving away products can increase sales, heighten engagement, build loyalty, and reach new audiences, Borcoman, who helps companies run giveaways, said. Here’s how to see these benefits by hosting a giveaway.
Set clear goals
Deciding what you hope to accomplish — such as increasing sales, raising awareness for a new product launch, or growing social-media interactions — is crucial for a successful giveaway, Borcoman said. Clear goals will help you develop a strategy, including which items to give away, how to set up the promotions, and how often to run them.
For instance, if you want to expand your social-media presence, giveaways asking users to follow your page, comment, or tag a friend to win are the way to go, Borcoman said. To get attention for new products, you can run sampling campaigns, where you give products away to customers or influencers and ask them to post honest feedback.
Finding an effective strategy can involve trial and error, Borcoman said. It’s also important to note the rules that each social-media platform has outlined for giveaways, which may differ slightly by platform.
Partner up to cross-sell
Teaming up with similar brands can enhance the results of a social-media giveaway, Wen said.
In January, Bocce’s Bakery collaborated with several brands for a “New Year, New Pup” giveaway, in which participants commented on a social post to enter to win a prize from each brand. Wen said since each brand shared the post, they all reached new audiences.
“It’s a really great way — a free, organic way — to drive increased followership and increased engagement and, oftentimes, the ability to cross-sell,” she said. Wen told Insider the campaign led to a 266% increase in followers and helped collect 3,500 new email addresses.
When choosing other brands to partner with, look for companies with similar products and overlapping audiences. Bocce’s Bakery collaborates with other dog brands or pet influencers, for example, Wen said.
Wen also recommends working with partners with high social-media engagement rates — how many likes or comments each post gets — rather than just high follower counts.
Wen said that after each product-giveaway campaign, her team conducts a “postmortem” to examine the analytics, including followers gained daily and for the entire giveaway, and the number of email leads the campaign collected.
“So, we can derive learnings and improve every single time,” she said.
Bocce’s Bakery has found that giveaways featuring photos, rather than graphics, garner the highest engagement. Wen said they planned to test video content for giveaways and hold giveaways on TikTok.
The company hosts giveaways about once a month and usually ties them to events like a holiday, sports tournament, movie release, or trend, Wen said: “You want to make sure each giveaway feels unique, really limited, like it’s special.”
Wen says product giveaways give small businesses a chance to get creative and connect with customers in an authentic way — as long as the businesses are intentional and true to their brand.
“Our brand is about having fun and a bonding moment between us and our pets, so it’s very natural to ask folks to take a photo of their dog or to comment across other pet brands,” she said. “If you were a luxury brand, you would have to do it in a different way.”