Ethical Bribes: How to Use Free Give-Away Offers to Grow Your Business

Are you using ethical bribes to grow your business?

Free giveaway itemFree give-away offers (also known as ethical bribes) are a classic, time-tested method for building buzz and gaining valuable exposure that can lead to greater sales for your business.

What is an Ethical Bribe?

An ethical bribe is something you give away for free in exchange for a prospect’s name and contact information (usually just an email address, but you can request a phone number and additional information as well in exchange for the free give-away item.)

Benefits of Ethical Bribes

Ethical bribes can help you:

  • Build buzz, gain attention and generate more exposure for your business, your products and your services,
  • Give potential customers a taste or experience of your product(s) or service(s)
  • Qualify leads and develop a list of ideal prospects
  • Position you as a “welcome guest” instead of an “unwelcome pest” in the prospect’s mind.
  • Obtain permission to continue communicating with your ideal prospects.

Studies show that people don’t buy something until they have been exposed to it between 4 and 7 times and sometimes up to 10 times. 

On the internet in particular, your prospects aren’t seeing you face to face or speaking with you directly. They probably don’t know who you are yet, so they aren’t likely to open their wallets and make a purchase when they first come across you. 

Examples of Ideal Ethical Bribes

The ideal ethical bribe provides a taste or experience of your product or service, and/or educates your prospects about your business, so they can decide if you have something of value to offer them.

Depending on the nature of your business, an ethical bribe could be:

  • A coupon or gift certificate to induce prospects to try your product or service
  • A free report
  • An excerpt or sample chapter of a forthcoming book
  • A free consultation or session with you
  • Access to a free educational video

Ethical Bribes Help You Overcome Buyer Resistance

People love free items, so ethical bribes make it easy to overcome price resistance from potential customers and clients. Many people are happy to provide their contact information in exchange for something that is free.

Once you have their contact information, you have the beginnings of a “marketing funnel” that can become a valuable and profitable sales tool.

The better your ethical bribe – the more value it represents to your target customer – the greater your chances of growing a database of leads and qualified prospects.

If people are visiting your website but not providing their names and email addresses to obtain your give-away item(s), then you need to offer something different with a greater perceived value. 

You won’t know if you need to offer a different ethical bribe until you have at least offered something. 

Setting Up Your Follow-Up System

Before offering your ethical bribe, you must set up a follow-up system to deliver the freebie offer and continue communicating with your leads after they sign up to receive your freebie offer.

Your website should be designed to present your ethical bribe in an eye-catching and appealing way, with a prominent sign-up form and inviting, persuasive images and copy.

You should also subscribe an autoresponder email service, such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or Aweber, and set up this service to immediately deliver the freebie offer as well as a series of pre-written messages that will be delivered in a predetermined sequence over a period of time (a week, a month, or longer).

Action Plan

Ethical Bribe Action Steps

Here are the action steps you need to take to start growing your business through ethical bribes:

  • Decide on one or more free give-away items or services you will offer.
  • Design and write your online invitation to obtain your give-away item.
  • Subscribe to an autoresponder email service (I recommend Aweber and Constant Contact)
  • Create an opt-in form (lead-generating form) through your email service to obtain prospects’ names and email addresses.
  • Set up your autoresponder service to immediately confirm and deliver access to your ethical bribe after prospects fill in the opt-in form.


  • Yvonne Herbst owns and manages Herbst Marketing, a Northern Virginia website design and marketing agency that helps local businesses use the internet effectively to grow sales and revenue. Her PiedmontWomen.com blog showcases influential women and women entrepreneurs serving Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock and Prince William Counties, Virginia.

    Sign up for the Piedmont Women email list to receive free offers, free gift certificates and other give-away items from featured woman-owned businesses.

    About 

    Herbst Marketing helps small business owners get the web presence they need to compete effectively in today's marketplace. Our services include: affordable small business website design and development, local search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that your business can get found fast online, social media setup and management (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube), email newsletter setup and management, adwords campaign setup and management, web/blog copywriting and web video production. For more information, call Yvonne directly at: (540) 937-7234 or (540) 729-4076 (cell).
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