Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t seem to have an “Off” switch.  I tend to think about how I’m running my business no matter what I’m doing – cooking, cleaning, showering (I actually have the BEST ideas for my biz in the shower!), getting ready for bed…….

Speaking of getting ready for bed, the other night, I was going through my nightly ritual of winding down for bed, and I washed my face.  I have been using a bar of soap that my grandmother (Nana) gave me.  She shops at department stores for her makeup – she always has, and she probably always will.

But I noticed all of a sudden that I was using a bar of soap that she got as a “gift” one of the last times she made a purchase at the department store makeup counter.  And I had an epiphany.

Am I marketing like this well-known, department-store makeup brand?  Their marketing strategy includes giving away samples of products when a purchase is made.  (Side note: I don’t currently buy department store makeup because I feel that I can’t afford it at this point.  So I cannot be completely sure whether there is a dollar-amount threshold that must be passed before the samples are included with the purchase.  But I do know that they often will have a special gift that is used to entice people to come buy a certain product.)

I started thinking about how we, as marketers, attempt to influence people to purchase from us, join our mailing list, tell friends about us, etc.  Some of us have mastered this concept and are VERY good at offering valuable reasons for people to want to interact with us.  But I also see lots of us who are sort of throwing spaghetti at the wall with our ideas.  We all know that getting people on our email list is a smart strategy for building our businesses.  And further, in order to entice people to join our mailing list, we need to give them something that’s valuable, that shows them that we’re experts in our fields or on our topics, and that is high quality.

Nobody wants to receive your email or newsletter.  We’re way more selfish than that.  We DO, however, want to be helped by you.  We want to receive value from you.  Something that gets us excited about what you do or offer, and makes us want to tell people what we’ve found that’s changed our lives, our businesses, our relationships, etc.  Yet, I still see people with “Get my FREE newsletter by joining my list!” at the top of their websites in an attempt to grow their lists.

But how are the department store makeup brands getting people to “opt in?”  They’re giving away samples.

But it’s important to think about WHAT kind of samples they’re giving away.  It would probably be pretty easy for them to give away products that they have too much of.  That perfume that didn’t hit the mark and isn’t selling well.  The shade of eye shadow that’s just too 1980’s.  The lipstick that makes people wonder if you’ve eaten something horrid that turned your mouth a ghastly shade of grey.  Nope, they’re not peddling their shit products.

They’re giving away their best sellers.  The perfume that elicits a “Hey, you smell nice….what are you wearing?”  The eye shadow kit that gives you the perfect smoky eye.  The lipstick that adds just the right amount of color without being completely obvious.

And above that, they’re packaging it well.  Each kit of eye shadow comes in a pretty little box.  The perfume, while it’s in a small bottle, is not one of those little hard-to-hold tubes that always leads to a perfume/carpet catastrophe.  It’s a cute little mini-bottle that makes you feel simultaneously dainty and like a giant when you hold it.

Am I doing what they’re doing?  Am I giving away my best stuff?  Am I packaging my giveaways in a way that makes people respect and admire their beauty?  Or am I just looking at it as something I HAVE to have because that’s what everyone says you have to have?

I’m sure that the makeup company knows that people might not keep all of the samples they’re given.  I regularly get samples from my Nana because she purchases from them quite often.  And when I run out of that facial cleanser that I’ve been using, you can bet that I’ll be at a department store makeup counter to get some more!

But I’ll tell you what…..encouraging people to give your products away is brilliant marketing and it does two things for your company.

1) It gets your product, your knowledge, or your expertise into the hands of another person.  AND MORE IMPORTANTLY……

2) It gives your product social proof.

If I give you a sample that I got from the department store makeup counter, that’s an indication that I have shopped there and I like the products.  How would I have the product if I hadn’t already invested something in the company?  Within the act of giving a sample to another person, I’m also giving that person my thumbs-up of the company.

So, I challenge myself and you to think about your marketing efforts like a department store makeup company.  Because even though you might be giving something away for free, what you give away when people sign up for your mailing list is often one of the first encounters many people have with your business.

If the first impression that you make with your new “customers” is that you produce beautiful, helpful, thorough, thought-provoking, business-/life-/relationship-enhancing materials or products, don’t you think they’ll come back for more?  I sure do……

Have you seen any particularly clever ideas that are simultaneously so simple that you wonder why you haven’t thought of them before?  Do you encourage sharing of your free opt-in gift or do you discourage it?  It feels to me that if we’re truly in give-mode with our passion, which is the best way to show up in this world and get what you want, we should be encouraging people to share what we give away to them.  Whether we get that new person on our mailing list or not……if they like what they’ve gotten and they feel that it was a true gift, they’ll seek out the maker of the gift themselves.  Please share so we can all learn and grow!