Walk through any wedding expo and you’ll walk out feeling like you don’t have to spend any money considering how much free stuff everyone just gave you. Between the percentage-offs, the discounts available this week only, and the lucky giveaway for one lucky winner, your wedding could be completely free.

But we don’t do giveaways anymore.

We’ve also stopped giving our services away to every charitable need. Why?

After almost a decade of giveaways, discounts, freebies, and donations we’ve gathered the data to allow us to make an educated decision to not do them anymore.

We will take the opportunity to offer a donation to those we feel we should, but we’d actually feel better parting with our cash than our services. That’s right, you’re more likely to find Britt and I donating money to your charity than donating what we do.

1) The Value Thing

Because an intricate part of any unpopular business is the exchange of value. The bit where you trade value. You give me a thing because I gave you a thing.

No customers have ever been gained because someone else won your service for free.

When you give a thing but don’t get a thing, there’s a glitch in the value system and you see a cat twice.

2) The choice thing

Another important element of my product journey is the bit where the couple choose me. They look through the marketplace, the different product offerings, costings, features, etc, and they make a decision to value me.

When given me, instead of choosing me, their decision isn’t made with a clear mind. If money wasn’t an issue they may not have hired me. They may have looked at someone else but now I’m free they’ll take my humble offering.

And because they didn’t choose me for the right reasons, they fall into number three.

3) The happiness thing

With one or two exceptions I’ve never had  a happy, soul-filling experience giving away my service for free. I’d rather buy you another celebrant. The only complaints I’ve ever had in my whole celebrant career have come from people I did a deal for, or people that won me in a competition.

Life’s too short to put your happiness at stake because someone wanted to do a competition.

What can we do instead?

When given the opportunity to do a giveaway, or be a prize in a competition, instead of giving away yourself – try these options:

  • give away a product or service that’s on brand for you that you have to purchase – for me that’s sometimes a movie ticket, or a  date night
  • if you really want to give away yourself, make it a value add, so don’t give away your core product, but give away a free upgrade or a free add-on package
  • and the third option is my favourite: just say no

Saying no isn’t that bad, there are better and more valuable ways to promote your business.

The exception to the rule

The one exception to this rule is actually quite a wide rule: if it’s a product that scales, like this website for example. I’ll discount to attract certain people for different reasons.

The difference is in the scaling. It’s the same amount of value extracted from me (work) for one person to read this as for one million people.