Generosity Marketing: Build Your Brand & Sell More

Generosity Marketing: Build Your Brand & Sell More

In the age of increased social connectivity and a burgeoning global marketplace, Generosity Marketing has become an invaluable tool for businesses large and small. But what does that phrase really mean? How can you attract and retain customers if you are giving things away for free?

Generosity Marketing is based on the sociological exchange theory inherent in every human interaction. When someone gives you something, you feel naturally inclined to reciprocate. When it comes to sales, the theory goes that if you give away your best content for free, your customer will be more open to receiving your generous offerings. Then, when you offer your product, your customer is already in a position of liking and trusting your brand. This is the stage where a sales conversion is most likely to occur. 

By being generous with your knowledge, service, or product, you prove your value to customers, gain their trust, and build a family of repeat loyal customers. The data seems clear that constantly deluging your audience with messages to “BUY BUY BUY!” only serves to alienate potential customers. In that scenario, they’ll quickly defect to a brand that provides them the value they seek. Generosity Marketing goes beyond product to encompass behaviors and experiences. Smart application of Generosity Marketing involves sharing knowledge, insight, ideas, entertainment, and interesting and fun experiences. Become a useful resource, and trust will follow.

Implementing Generosity Marketing

There are many ways to engage in Generosity Marketing, but be careful that these “gives” aren’t all about you, the company. A discount, sale, or contest may seem generous, but often these tactics will feel like a bait-and-switch to customers. They may see these methods as an easy grab for sales and email addresses. Below are some ideas for generosity marketing you can implement.


Social Commitment

Donate a portion of sales to a cause, or donate a free product for every purchase. This is called purpose-driven marketing—upholding and supporting a chosen cause through purchasing of products. The TOMS shoe brand is a for-profit company, but for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in a poor country. Another example is Bali-based jewelry maker Gardens of the Sun, which plants a tree for every piece of jewelry purchased. According to recent research, 76% of Americans say supporting companies that address social and environmental issues help them feel that they are also doing their part, and 86% say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies (Engage for Good). 


Reward Social Engagement

Many brands reward customers who share their products on social media. Similar to word of mouth recommendations, your valued customers can advocate for your brand to a much wider audience with just a few clicks, or the use of a hashtag. You can reward customers who share your products on social media, whether that be with a personal acknowledgement, a freebie, a discount, or something else. Look into creating a brand ambassador program cultivating from your most loyal customers to generate authentic endorsements. We have a great, informative post about starting an ambassador program here. You can also take a look at our post on influencer marketing here.  


Reward Loyalty

Frequent shopper rewards, points systems, and customer loyalty programs create goodwill in your shop by rewarding your best customers. Exclusives are another way to generate loyalty. You can host private events online in an invite-only Facebook group or at your brick-and-mortar store and provide VIP content or pre-sale invitations. In a recent study, 83% of those surveyed said loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with a company (Invesp). Check out our blog post on creating a customer loyalty program here


Share Your Knowledge

Create free tutorials, share valuable tips & tricks, write informative ebooks, and host mini classes. Whatever your expertise is in—whether it’s spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, or another fiber craft—share some of that knowledge for free with your target consumers. Remember that many experiences have moved online, and that your customer is often looking for knowledge via online resources. If you’ve gained the trust of your customers and they’ve signed up for your newsletter, craft special curated missives that compile valuable resources you’ve researched from around the web. For example, one newsletter could collate all the best blogs on embroidery techniques, or a list of YouTube videos on special bind offs. 


Give it Away

No one can deny the allure of free patterns and product samples, but there are many types of valuable products to give away. If you provide finishing services, maybe offer a free 30-minute consultation on finishing techniques for new customers. Consider which services or products could improve your customer’s life or fill a need. Ask yourself what your customer would find most useful. A free trial access to those services lets customers see the quality of your product first-hand. 


Tips For Increasing Results


As with all marketing efforts, monitor the ROI (return on investment). Limit the time spent or the quantity of product given away as part of your generosity marketing. If the plan is to provide free tutorials, limit them to once a month, or once per quarter. Then track the time spent on creation and promotion of content, the number of leads acquired, and the number of sales received. Also keep track of the comments and questions you receive, as these are valuable insights into the concerns of your customers. Collect testimonials from those you helped for free just as you would from paying customers. Finally, make sure that your content is clearly and consistently branded so that it’s easy for people to go from free content, to contacting you, to buying your products. 


Cost Per Lead = cost of content (time + hard costs) / number of leads

One way to calculate ROI is to look at your cost per lead for each generosity marketing campaign. For example, you create a free pattern that requires an email sign up to your newsletter. In order to calculate the cost per lead, add up the costs of creating/purchasing a pattern, plus any digital advertising purchased to promote it, and divide that sum by the number of emails you captured. If your generosity campaign isn’t gated, such as a YouTube tutorial, think about how you’ll quantify a lead. You could accomplish this with links to an accompanying free download, or something else that will help capture emails. 


A common concern with Generosity Marketing centers around giving away too much. “Why buy the cow if the milk is free?” you might say, but that is an oversimplification of the processes at work in Generosity Marketing. Remember, when your customers regard your business as an institution of freely shared knowledge and resources, that generosity translates as trust and generates an authentic feeling of kinship. Every piece of valuable content created and shared for free with your customers has the potential to reach new eyes and ears. For instance, using the example referenced above, that newsletter curating the best blogs on embroidery techniques may not just reach your subscriber list. Your subscribers could potentially forward the email to their personal network, increasing your reach organically through an ever-expanding cobweb of social contacts. It’s about the potential relationships, not the free products. Quite simply, it’s hard to put a price on the strength of the community built on Generosity Marketing.


Do you want to give Generosity Marketing a try? This strategy might sound counterintuitive—giving things away for free in order to make a profit—but in an age of ever increasing white noise, people more readily respond to brand messaging that not only benefits them personally, but engages them in an ongoing relationship. Your relationship with your customer is an exchange that should flow both ways. Remember why you started your business: like many in the fiber arts industry, you have a passion for what you do, and your ideal customer does, too. Finding and connecting with these passionate people is key; forging an ongoing, reciprocal relationship is paramount. There are many customers who want and need your product, so how will you distinguish yourself and show them that your brand is unique? 


Contact us today to strategize how to incorporate Generosity Marketing into your business plan.

Leanne Pressly
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