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.

How to Capture More Leads With Less Effort: Website Tips for Small Business Owners

Capture More Leads Online With Special Offers and Lead Capture Forms

Offering a free sample of your product or service to first-time website visitors is a time-tested, proven way to grow your business fast.

Everyone loves to receive free gifts. When you offer free gifts available only through your website — and require website visitors to provide their name and email address to receive those gifts — you develop an email list that is worth its weight in gold.

A highly-targeted email list also increases the inherent value of your business, if you ever decide to sell your business in the future.

Did You Know?

On average, email marketing delivers a $50 return for every dollar you spend on email promotional campaigns.

When people sign up to receive your special offers, you can follow up with more enticing offers and invitations to come back to your business again and again.

An email opt-in form that is prominently displayed on every page of your website with an invitation to sign up to receive a special gift will help you build a targeted list of prospects who are likely to buy more of what you have to sell.

Regular email messages and promotions sent to your highly-targeted list of prospects can quickly turn one-time visitors into repeat customers who can be prompted to refer more business your way as well.

Examples of Effective One-Time Offers

If you own a restaurant and offer one free dessert with the purchase of two entrees, this will likely lead to the sale of at least one more dessert as well. If your coupon prompts a visit from a family of four, then you will likely sell two additional meals and as many as three additional desserts as well.

Free Offers Can Work For Any Kind of Business

No matter what kind of business you own, chances are you can think of something you can give away for free in a way that will lead to at least one sale, and potential repeat sales. Here are some ideas to get you going:
Free Consultations

  • Free hair color consultation
  • Free inspection
  • Free skin type analysis
  • Free wardrobe analysis
  • Free first-time coaching session
  • Free first-time tutoring session
  • Free business card design consultation

Free Giveaway With Purchase

  • Free topping with any ice cream sundae
  • Free topping with any large pizza
  • Two free drinks with purchase of two entrees
  • Free haircut with purchase of coloring or other chemical treatment
  • Free facial with purchase of massage
  • Free makeup brush with purchase of skin care and cosmetics package
  • Free tote with purchase of $50 worth of product
  • Free tire rotation for one year with purchase of four tires
  • Free dessert on your birthday

VIP Discounts
Offer exclusive subscriber-only discounts to get more people to sign up or your email list.

  • $10 off your next service when you review our company on Yelp
  • $5 off your next purchase when you like us on Facebook
  • 10% VIP discount on all purchases when you sign up for our email list

Get Creative

There is no limit to the creative offers you can develop to appeal to your target market and grow your list of highly-qualified prospects.

Need Help? Call Today!

Sometimes we all need a creative jump start to help us set up a website that works and craft the kinds of offers that will grow our business fast.

If you would like expert help or coaching, call me direct:

540-937-7234

or Email me here

Email Marketing Helps Grow Sales

If you own a local business and have not yet implemented an email marketing plan, you should consider implementing an email marketing strategy to grow your sales.  Here’s why.

According to various market research firms:

  • 66% of consumers surveyed made a purchase because of a marketing email. (Exact Target 2008 Channel Preference Survey)
  • 94% of daily email users subscribed to marketing messages. (ExactTarget “Subscribers, Fans, and Followers: The Social Profile” (2010))
  • 67% say the motivation behind giving their email address to a company is to get a promotions and discounts while 55% will do it for a “freebie”.  (ExactTarget “Email X-Factor Study” (2010)
  • 14% give their email address just to interact with a brand. (ExactTarget “Email X-Factor Study” (2010)
  • 75% of daily social media users said email is the best way for companies to communicate with them. MarketingSherpa (2010)

Best Commercial Email Service Providers

Many local businesses use Constant Contact to build their email database and send email messages to their customers and prospects.

Constant Contact will cost you around $15.00 per month to get started.

But there are other alternatives – and some are free.

If you are thinking about implementing email marketing in your business, you should also check out these alternative email services:

  • Mail Chimp
  • Icontact
  • Aweber

Need Help Getting Started?

If you need help creating an email marketing system for your business, click here and send us an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Let us know how we can help you and we will call you for a no-obligation chat.