Everyone loves the word “free.” You can find it everywhere you turn, from free shipping and free setup to fat-free foods and pain-free remedies. And free stuff, of course, which is the name of the game with promotional items. You get to be the bearer of free T-shirts, hats, drinkware and wireless earbuds, and every sales call ends with the same request: “Can you send a free sample?”

Of course, all those free products are anything but. Before an item lands on your prospective buyer’s desk, it goes through a long chain of research, development, production, testing, shipping and more. Each step in that process has a cost, which means every free product has an associated value. And that makes each sample a valuable – and powerful – sales tool. Read More