Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Using the Idea of Free to Enrich Your Business

This morning I made up some cards to send, wrapped up a couple of presents to mail, and worked on my contributions for the swag bags my local etsy team is  handing out at their handmade market in November. I made up 45 of these bags for The Creative Connection Event I attended in September. For that event I chose to make up the word "create" for these bags I'm doing "snow" and "dream" (because they're easier than create and festive). The etsy team is handing them out to the first 25 to walk through the door on the 20th. I was able to make about 12 of them this morning. I thought I'd share a quick photo though because they're easy to do and I think a good example of using the idea of free.
Free is something I stumbled upon while listening to a podcast of Sister Diane of Craftypod discussing it with a guest. It's a fairly simple concept, has been used for ages, but what I liked was all the different ways they suggested it can be applied. For instance, while promoting my book, I've made these little freebies to hand out. Now I can hand them out like I did at the TCC- when someone asked about my card, I pulled one of these out and handed it to them. You have to bet it got their attention and I enjoyed giving them away. Or I could use them in the swag bags or I could carry them with me as I visit local fabric shops. I'll introduce myself, mention my book, and leave them the packet that include my card.

Additionally,  in the little packets I've been able to include postcards about the book that my publisher made up and sent me to hand out. These are another good example of how to use free. On the back they tell all the info about the book but also give tips for creating with wire. That's using free. It doesn't have to be a physical item you're giving away. It can be information. Or a how-to. It can be a free guide to something. Think about what you do, is there a way that you could use free to promote your work?  

Another example of using free effectively are the social communities that businesses are setting up. You don't have to pay to join up, you have access to a ton of free tutorials or patterns, as well as access to a group of people you probably have things in common with. By promoting the community they're building a stronger, more knowledgeable base who will hopefully then feel more confident exploring new medias which may or may not lead to sales. But it's a great way of adding value to your product and shape your business's image in a positive light.I think this also ties in directly to conversations on branding and the Marketing with Meaning book I've mentioned before.

You can use free to promote your next event as well. For instance, you might want to offer make and takes at your holiday bazaar. It gives your potential customers a better idea of what your medium is like to work with. Giving free classes is another example, or maybe you want to offer to speak as an artist to a high school art class. I'm sure they'd love to know about your experiences navigating what can be a pretty murky career path. Blogs and blog tutorials are another great way to offer free to  your potential customer base. 

So there you go- some ideas to think about. I'd love to have you comment if other examples come to mind. Or if you're using the idea of free already- I'd love know what you're doing and what experiences you've had with it. Yay- I'm excited to read your comments it's so fun when we all share!

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