Donating products is not only a good way to attract local attention for your business, but often leads you in interesting new directions. I have drummed up a lot of new business through donations of my products, and by doing this, I've been able to branch out into markets and even other mediums I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
Many schools, churches, and other civic groups have yearly fund-raisers. For example, my children's school has an annual "Tricky Tray" (auction-type event sometimes called a Chinese auction), where parents are encouraged to donate theme gift baskets, and local business are also solicited for donations. I always donate at least three handcrafted gift items for this event. One year I donated some items presented in hand-painted clay pots. I dropped off my donations at the school, which was teaming with volunteers at work on the auction. By the time I left, I had orders for 4 more pots, and when I returned home, I had messages on my answering machine for more orders.
Donations Prompt New Services and Products
When I began to sell my products, I was not thinking in terms of offering my services as a decorative painter, but after a customer purchased one of my pots decorated with lady bugs, she asked if I could paint them on her kitchen wall. By the time the job was done, I had painted not only her kitchen walls, but had made a matching floor cloth, table cloth and curtains! Suddenly I had a new service to offer others.
Other areas have also opened up for me. Many people now call on me to create "their" donation. (Teachers and parents are busy these days and may want to donate but just don't have the time.) I have also received orders for wedding and party favors, another area I hadn't delved into before I began to donate products.
Here are some tips I have found for using donations as a marketing tool:
* Be realistic. You can't donate to everyone. Some people may try to take advantage of you, so choose your recipients wisely. You can say no!
* Be sure everything you donate includes some literature about your company; a business card at the least, a small brochure, a hand made card saying "Hand Crafted by," etc.
* Be sure to leave some business cards with the fund raiser, chairperson, school or church secretary–whoever is in a position to get phone calls after the fund raiser is over. (Once some people get home, they will decide they want more of your products.)
* Don't forget that your donation is tax-deductible. Check with your accountant about this.)
Finally, if someone asks for something you have never done before, don't say no–just say you will get back to them. Then do some research. Maybe this is something you can offer. If you can't, you can always say no later, and be helpful to one of your customers by pointing them in the right direction.