The giveaway that just ended a few days ago on ModernCat, however, was a demonstration to me of the other potential of a well-placed giveaway: direct and immediate sales. This is the first time that's happened, and I'm very excited about it. I'm even more excited, however, about the fact that the giveaway got 406 individual respondents, the vast majority of whom were unfamiliar with my shop prior to encountering the giveaway. That's a lot of new potential customers being introduced to my work, and all of them are solid members of my target market since they're readers of moderncat.
Over the last year I've read a lot of debate over giveaways and whether they are a good marketing strategy. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all response to that question. If you can't have fun doing a giveaway for the excitement of it, then maybe you shouldn't do them. If you love entering giveaways though (I know I do), then you might consider creating your own a way of keeping the fun alive even if they don't directly result in sales.
That said, if you are doing a giveaway, there are definitely things that help and things that hurt. Because I'm contrary, and in a sassy mood, I'm puttiong together a list of
Things to do to make sure your giveaway fails spectacularly:
- Host it on a blog that has almost no readership or has a readership with no interest in what you sell. This is a great way to make sure your giveaway is like that proverbial tree in a forest that falls when no-one is around. Try posting your anti-gun t-shirt on a pro-NRA blog, your expensive and beautifully detailed pottery on a pro-Walmart blog, your "animals suck" poster on a pet lover's blog, and so on.
- Provide pictures that are fuzzy, out of focus, or look dirty. This way, no-one will be certain just what they'd win, or if they'd even want to win it.
- Give away an item that you don't want. After all, if you hate it, surely everyone else will too.
- Keep quiet about your giveaway. Don't post about it on twitter, or in the forums, or on sites like EtsyGiveaways. Don't share it in your newsletter or with your previous customers. Don't mention it in emails. In fact, generally just try to pretend it doesn't exist.
- Don't ask people to visit your shop and leave a comment about what they liked and why in order to enter the giveaway. This way, you'll learn nothing about what's most appealing in your shop and you won't get fresh eyes on your work. This is a particularly brilliant strategy if you want to have plenty to complain about later.
- Expect your giveaways to generate instant and overwhelming sales every time. This one is particularly important to combine with number five, so that you are sure to have nothing to show for your giveaway if no-one buys anything immediately. If you decide to maintain this expectation, you can increase your frustration by also not thinking of the giveaway as an opportunity to expose new people to your work who may become customers weeks or months down the line.
Oh - one real tip (I couldn't think of how to frame this in a contrary way). Consider giving away a gift certificate to your shop. I'm fond of the $15 gift certificate--it's large enough to get a 5x7 print plus shipping, so that people don't have to spend any money (which is very important--no-one will enter a giveaway if they think it's just to win the equivalent of a discount), but I've had people decide to spend beyond the gift amount, which can't happen as easily if they're just winning a particular item.