I’m frequently asked about the best way to handle give-aways and donation requests, and if these tactics help new businesses get started.
I often hear owners say things like, “I’m running a give-away” or “I left samples with all the teachers” because “it’s a way to get my name out there.” In my experience, giving away products is a great way to get your name out there to people who want free products.
Small businesses, especially new ones, are often targeted with all types of requests. Recently, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Tim Kreider about a universal problem that affects all types of creative artists, whether they are painting, sewing, crafting, or baking. Kreider writes,
People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors” is how the pertinent line usually starts.
When you have a food business, you’re an easy target for donation requests. And not only from legitimate charities, but from any business or individual with a “small budget.” They say things like “it will be good for your business” or “it will get your name out there” or “think of all the exposure you’ll get” and don’t forget “you can display your business cards next to the cake!”
Occasionally it does happen that you reap more business by donating. But not usually. More often than not, getting your name out there (as with give-aways) only gets your name out there to even more people who are looking for something free.
Donating to a favorite cause can make us feel good, but I suggest you pick a charity or two that you already feel good about and donate there. Then you won’t expect anything more for your donation than the immense satisfaction that comes with helping a cause you support. Tell everyone else, “sorry, my budget won’t allow for more donations this year.”
Home-Based Baking at its Best! Raise your hand if you’re listening.