Supermarkets have free food samples, online music stores give free short audio clips of your favorite hip-hop and pop albums, and fast food restaurants take your personal info in exchange for discounts on meals. I’m introducing young entrepreneurs and business minded students to three cool and effective ways to build their user or customer base.

Free promotional giveaways are nothing new, every popular business brand does it. It attracts new customers and keep the old ones coming back to their service. In return, people subconsciously develop brand loyalty, meaning you’re mentally trained to trust and use a certain product or service over the competitor.

There are three types of giveaways:
There’s Short Term promotions, which I refer to as “little bits”. You basically give away a sample of something you have for sale. Most young people are geared towards the internet nowadays so I’ll use online apps (applications) as an example. Social networks, gaming sites, and software makers give away free trial based gaming apps to attract young people all the time. The apps are fully functional to play, but expire after a given time like 15 or 30 days. If the user find the game app addictive, they’ll buy the unrestricted version. if you can’t give away a bigger item like a game app, you can’t go wrong with free pens, t-shirts, and hand made jewelry branded with your company name or logo. This example of time limited free stuff for loyalty is the classic case of, “the first time’s free but the next time you better pay me”.

There’s the Long Term Giveaway. This marketing strategy generally applies to services more than products and shouldn’t cost you a lot of money to provide to users. It involves always giving away a service for free and making your money from other sources using that same service. For example, free social networking websites, business information websites like EntrepreneurRookie, and free softwares like flash player from Adobe or iTunes media player from Apple are long term giveaways. They make their money from charging advertisers a fee to display ads on their websites. These websites generate a lot of traffic which equals a lot of people viewing the sponsors advertisements. So it’s a win win situation, the website owner makes money, and the advertiser makes money.

The third giveaway is one that completely remakes or gets rid of a money wasting product or service for customers. For example the old telephone land line/internet combo versus new mobile smart phones. You’re giving away convenience and providing two services for the price of one. Telephone companies used to force customers to have a land line for for both phone and internet service with two separate charges to you. Then smart phones came along and customers discovered they no longer needed that land line, their smart phone provided both telephone and internet access in one service with one charge, with the added bonus of being able to use it anywhere there is internet access.Now you can even watch television and videos on those same smart phones, bye bye land line.