Everyone likes free stuff, but it can be hard to come by in a world where everything costs. Luckily, giving out free merchandise is a great marketing technique, so if you know where to look, you can still snag some free swag. Here are a few places that you can go and expect to find some free goodies.
Anything College Related
Whether it is a college fair or a college-sponsored event, there will be free items. It will most likely be branded with the college’s logo, so if you’re not a fan of the local college, this might not be for you. But this offers a unique collection opportunity. How many different college shirts, hats, pens, and Frisbees can you get? A lot if you play your cards right. College fairs are often open to anyone, so you can most likely get in whether you are actually interested in going to school or not. This is the best place to get a lot of free stuff from a lot of different places. These items will usually be relatively cheap: pens, lanyard’s, key chains, maybe a few Frisbees or shirts if you’re lucky.
On the other hand, if you are near a college, they probably host relatively cheap or free events on a regular basis. Some of these may be student-only, but some won’t. You could get to see guest speakers or have access to seminar-type classes and information classes just by being well-informed. College groups also often have fundraisers where you can buy trinkets and goodies for much less than retail value. Again, you’re not looking at very valuable items at this point, but sometimes stuff is stuff.
At just about any sporting event with a cheering section there will be people tossing t-shirts, noisemakers, and food into the crowd. If you are willing to do more than cheer and fight your neighbor though, you can have the opportunity for much bigger rewards.
During breaks (half-time, between innings, intermission- it all depends on what sports you watch), spectators are often dragged to center stage to participate in contests and other oft-humiliating activities for a prize. Sometimes you even get something just for participating. Even if you have to win the contest or achieve a task in order to get the prize, these activities can be a lot of fun, and even if you lose you’ll have a great time as long as you can laugh at yourself. If you go to sporting events often enough, you may even become a regular and more likely to be chosen as a participant. Prizes can range from team paraphernalia to gift cards to local restaurants.
Radio Stations are often approached by companies to advertise for them; sometimes this involves a giveaway. In the past few years, stations have taken to setting up booths outside of local storefronts for 1-time giveaways. Other times, there are on-air call-in contests. By checking out websites and listening through the otherwise painful commercials, you can learn about the giveaways your local stations are offering. Common giveaway items include beverages, gas cards, concert tickets, and gift packages from local businesses. These are often limited so there may be a drawing or some sort of competition in order to get the prize.
If you like a certain product, make sure that you are on that company’s mailing list. You may skim the emails, but there will most likely be contests and discount opportunities offered to members or subscribers.
You can also use a search engine to just search “giveaways” for your favorite retailer or product. You might find something cool, or at the very least learn about similar items and other people who enjoy the product as well.
Freebie Web Sites
While it is great to find websites with links to freebie opportunities, you must be careful when entering information online. Don’t give out any financial information and abstain from giving your address to sites with whom you haven’t interacted before. Make sure you trust anyone who you share information with. Trust your instinct and pretend to be an ichthyologist: If it smells fishy, it probably is.
These are some of the best ways to obtain free items. There are a lot of other methods, and there will be more as marketing and technology evolve. Always remember that sometimes you get what you pay for, so free stuff won’t always be quality. But there are other times when you get lucky, and companies realize that it is smart to give away quality product. After all, you’re not likely to actually spend money for something if you didn’t enjoy your trial version, are you?
Alice Jenkins is a graphic designer, writer, and avid t-shirt wearer. She enjoys blogging about all aspects of design, but particularly current trends in pop and alternative-culture fashion. She currently writes for youdesignit.com, where you can make Custom Design T Shirts Online.