Sunday, May 31, 2009

Companies Giving it all Away. Are They Crazy?...Or Crazy Like A Fox?

Friday's episode of the Tyra Banks show revealed some fascinating freebies as well as unconventional ways to make money in today's troubled economy. I watch her show often and it is often entertaining but she really outdid herself this time!

Among the guests featured were people who sold everything from plasma, to a kidney, to one woman who made about $1300 selling her hair!

In addition there were some people who frequented particular websites giving away various products for free; individuals who had won food, big screen TVs, and even lavish all expenses (or most expenses) paid trips, health, and beauty products, and there it was reported that some unusual networks of people allow strangers to trade houses with them while on vacation or stay a night or two with them at their house when they needed lodging when they couldn't afford a stay in a hotel.

One little known fact is that General Mills gives away not only coupons but free full-sized products they manufacture just for asking or signing up on their website.

Many companies are willing to literally give things away in order to gain new and devoted customers long-term. I've seen this among sellers on Etsy, but it doesn't seem to be quite as prevelent in commercial circles (or at least it's not widely publicized). Well, after Tyra's show I guess their cover is blown, LOL.

These companies probably factor into their marketing plan the number of people who just take one of something and never come back, but they figure losing a few items is worth what they'll gain in those who try their products and love them so much they decide to make something of theirs a regular household staple.

I know that I have stumbled upon much loved items this way myself. I have found a number of new favorites by sampling the local faire at Sam's Club via those little tables set up by people hired to hand out samples, and similarly at the Dekalb Farmer's Market in Atlanta. Just a few weeks ago I discovered a delicious new Onion Bread this way (and believe me, I plan on buying more when June comes around and I go back for more groceries!)

These types of arrangements in the long-term (although requiring a short-term sacrifice) do pay off. They are win/win situations.

Some might assume if it looks too good to be true then it probably is, but that can't be taken as a given or you're likely to miss out on some really wonderful opportunities!

Now, ironically, more than ever, retailers everywhere are willing to try new and riskier marketing ideas. The old standby's aren't always enough to increase one's market-share in an arena where everyone is starving to make a go of it and total resources are fewer.

Even computer manufacturers who haven't sacrificed much from year to year are now lowering prices, taking advantage of each holiday to run special deep discount promotions, and placing their trust in the market to scratch their back later like never before. Just a few months ago I didn't see anything decent for sale under around $900 in laptops, but now many are down around $500-$650, and store credit cards are extending all kinds of "same as cash deals" to entice customers to buy.

I turned on the TV today and noticed that the housing market is starting to do all kinds of creative marketing as well; reducing the required down-payments people are required to place, gated communities sponsoring new and luxurious amenities, and many developers are even lowering their total prices on newly-built homes.

Hotels are dropping their rates as well in hopes that people won't cut back on vacations this year, and websites like Expedia.com are becoming even more widely used by the traveling public.

I have not seen alot of deep discounts yet from wholesale jewelry suppliers, (but I suspect it's just a matter of time).

These were the websites recommended on the Tyra Banks show (and some suggested by posters on her forum who had personally tried them and found them to be legitimate and helpful. I've organized them and divided them into categories:

Free Stuff (or Get Paid)

Food and Clothing
www.mysteryshop.org (pays people to shop or assess product display in stores)
www.craigslist.org (Free Clothing)
www.shespeaks.com (Free health and Beauty Products)
www.freebirthdaytreats.com (Free stuff on your birthday)
www.pssst.generalmills.com (Free food; will send you full sized products)

Medication
www.pparx.org (Free Medications)

Travel or Place To Stay
www.kayak.com
www.homeexchange.com
www.caretaker.org
www.courier.org
www.couchsurfing.com

Financial Aid For School
www.finaid.org

Sweepstakes
www.sweetiessweeps.com

Various Free Stuff
www.freecycle.org
www.freebies4mom.com
www.freeflys.com
www.shop4freebies.com
www.ilovefreebies.com
www.freestufffriend.com
www.sweetfreestuff.com
www.buzzagent.com

Sell Your Hair
http://thehairtrader.com

After I took a look at the hairtrader site I decided this would be a fantastic way to raise some of the money I need to pay off Carmella's vet bill! Unlike giving plasma or selling a kidney, cutting your hair really has no risk involved and the great thing about it is that it grows back. I discovered that cutting the hair after you find a buyer brings the highest price.

Some buyers seem to want to cut the hair themselves. There seems to be two or three reasons for this that I can identify;

1) The fresher it is the better it works in creating a wig or hair extension

2) Some buyers may want this because if they cut it themselves they can be sure what they see in pictures is what they will get

3) There seem to be some buyers who want to cut the hair themselves because they have some sort of hair fetish (those are the ones you want to avoid). Some of them seem to want to shave the person's head too.

I don't think I would be comfortable with that, and besides you never know when dealing face to face with strangers whether you're going to meet up with somebody harmless or an axe murderer. With the recent serial murder case which took place on Craig's List you can never be too careful. I think I will opt for the shipping option with hair cut at a salon or by myself just to be safe. There are some buyers who have above-board reasons for buying the hair and are still willing to pay high prices.

Right now I have about a foot of harvestable hair but the ones who usually command the highest prices have longer hair than that. I was amazed to see that there were some women who had grown their hair to two feet or more!

I don't think I want to wait that long to sell mine, but maybe a few months more growth will get it into the range at which I can reasonably expect more than $1,000.

The fact that I have a large percentage of both Native American (Iroquois) and Hawaiian in me will also be to my advantage. There is a woman with one of the Iroquoian Nation tribes in her lineage who sold hers within days, and a guy (I think the buyer) left a question for her asking where he could get more Native American type hair, so I know that it is sought-after.

Doing this could have all kinds of side-benefits as well; possibly increase the customer-base to my Etsy stores, raise awareness even more to the Distemper cure cause, and who knows, it might also end up helping Carmella in ways I don't even imagine right now!

Sales (though most of them small) have started to become more frequent in both my finished jewelry and supply Etsy stores since I've been listing more items in my supply store lately. Things are looking up. I hope this will continue to increase.

This Southwestern Cross necklace and earring set is my latest.

The set has been wire-wrapped with fine silver wire, Southwestern Sterling silver beads, red coral, tiny hematite beads, and has a nice weighty sterling chain. It's available now on Etsy.

Keep the donations coming for Carmella. She needs all the help she can get. We won't be out of the woods financially until this bill has been reduced quite a bit more.

I think finally her expenses are slowing down. Her mange is alot better than even at my last writing. You can see that the sides of her face around her whiskers have healed very well and most of the fur has grown back there.

However she still has the look of buckshot on her flank (one side more than the other).
I sure hope the hair follicles are not destroyed in that area and that this too will heal and the fur will grow back.

She has been full of energy over the weekend and even chewed some wood in the kitchen. I have not been able to locate where it came from, but I came home from running some errands to find splinters scattered all over the floor and Carmella with a guilty look on her face. Now that she is free of much of the previous immune system stuff I have been taking her for walks in the neighborhood. Sometimes it is me who hasn't felt up to it.

Now I can attend to some of my own health problems and gradually make headway on some of the consults that have been on the back burner. I have an appointment with an ENT for mid June to look into the status of my bone loss and assess whether or not there is still any active infection before going ahead with bone regeneration. Then there is the Dermatologist appointment.

Meanwhile the marketing for both shops continues, and the making of new pieces of jewelry, as does my work with the Canine Distemper cause.
http://Giftbearer.etsy.com

4 comments:

w said...

no.way. look at that list!

thanks!

(no hair selling from me, though).

look at carmella! awwww!

StunningAnnaK said...

What a great list of free things!

Good Luck with the vet bills and the hair selling... Be Careful!

Giftbearer said...

Thanks! Her mange is getting much better now! I took some more cute pictures of Carmella since this post and look forward to putting those up when I'm not so sleepy. I'm burning the candle at both ends again, LOL.

I'm getting ready to have some more cool things for sale in my supply shop too, so stay tuned!

Blogger said...

I make $20 for filling a 20 minute survey!

Guess what? This is exactly what big companies are paying me for. They need to know what their customer base needs and wants. So big companies pay $1,000,000's of dollars per month to the average person. In return, the average person, like me, answers some questions and gives them their opinion.