Giving things away for free to build your network and grow your business

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead  |  Case Studies  |  Best Practices

At the Gathering of the Vibes music festival last weekend, besides the great live bands, I particularly enjoyed wondering around the camping area. It's fun to encounter interesting people who are part of the same tribe!

Free tie dye t shirtsOn Saturday morning, I saw a bunch of tie-dye shirts and figured that somebody was selling them. Tie-dye is very popular at Vibes. As I paused, I was told they are free. Now, that’s interesting!

So I got to chatting with Dave, the guy who made them. Dave told me he loves to make the shirts and giving them away brings back much more to him than money ever could.

By giving away free tie-dye shirts, Dave meets interesting people. By giving away free tie-dye shirts, Dave initiates conversations. By giving away free tie-dye shirts, Dave gets gifts in return. By giving away free tie-dye shirts, Dave gives back to the community.

Although the shirts really are free and if you simply walk away with one, Dave’s cool, some people ask what they can do for him. He always suggests making a donation to the Vibes Food Drive.

I picked out a purple and blue shirt (with a pocket!). I took the shirt and told Dave I’d be right back. I went to my campsite, grabbed a copy of my book (written with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan) Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, returned and gave the book to Dave. It was a great trade.

Giving away content

In the online world, it is so easy to give away content! (Much easier than tie-dye shirts). You can offer videos, an ebook, a white paper, a deck on Slideshare, an infographic.

I suggest offering these things completely for free the way Dave does with his tie-dye shirts. Don’t require registration. Just give it away.

Sure some people will just take. But others will share the love with their friends, colleagues, and family members, which helps spread your ideas.

Other people will want to give you something in return, like their money when they purchase your products.

Giving it away for free is not just for Deadheads.