Promotional free items such as demo versions, samples, or novelty items offered to visitors are utilized by many businesses to attract new customers. Another common reason for such freebies is to generate interest, and therefore demand, for an upcoming product release. Improving the relationship with faithful customers and establishing trust are critical both for repeat business business, but also to generate free exposure for the business via word-of-mouth advertising.
While some businesses are willing to give away their freebies for nothing in return, the smart ones will request prospects for contact information (such as name and email address if it is a web site), alternatively requesting permission to subscribe the avatar to an in-world mailing list or add them to a group for the purpose of receiving future promotional material. In some cases the so-called freebies are not available unless the avatar pays a nominal fee in exchange which entitles them to receiving items sent to the avatar on a regular basis. In these cases while the items received are not truly free the avatar ends up paying less overall in comparison to purchasing those items individually.
Avatars are encouraged to “shop around” when freebies are made available as some dishonest businesses will simply find a copyable and transferable free object in a hangout area then turn around and promote it to their own customers. Fortunately, with a quick search of the internet and reviews on forums these types of businesses are discovered very quickly and their customer base will quickly distrust them.
Some businesses will place restrictions on the freebies they distribute either through technical means (such as configuring the object to be no-modify or non-transferable) or by including a TOS (Terms of Service) notecard with the free item. However, this is a balancing act because if similar businesses are offering their freebies on more flexible terms those that are restrictive may loose market share. Another consideration is some avatars are simply out to collect every freebie they can find even if they never use it. They may never intend on reading the TOS nor visit the landmark included with the freebie, but for some businesses that is acceptable because if even a small portion of the freebie collectors later do decide to revisit the business to purchase something then it will have paid off in the long run.
Welcoming an avatar into your store is an important marketing tool as it projects recognition of the client so that they feel welcome and that their visit is appreciated. Many times, the first inquiry a prospective sale has how and where to find a particular item or types of items therefore it is important that a greeter provides such a mechanism. Product location methods can either be in-person from another avatar or via a scripted method such as a kiosk. If it is in-person then the greeter should ask how the visiting avatar can be helped as this can present genuine concern, however if the client does not want to bothered yet then the greeter should back off and check in later.
In the real world the distribution of flyers, handouts, and business cards by a greeter to promote products and upcoming events is not uncommon, however a quick inspection of nearby by trash bins and garbage cans will show that many of those handouts were immediately discarded likely before they were even looked at. Similarly in the virtual world the offered inventory items and group invitations as soon as an avatar teleports into a store have a high likelihood of being deleted and/or ignored until after they have had an opportunity to browse the store. With this being the case a nearby kiosk should be available so that if visitors do initially decide to ignore the influx of inventory offers they may still obtain them at a later time. Also, be sure to narrow the sensor range of such automatic distribution gadgets to remain inside the store and read the covenant for the sim to determine what, if any, restrictions are in place in regards to such communication methods.
Recognizing whether the visitor is a prospective customer or a repeat visitor may affect how you welcome the customer as they have two distinctly different needs. New customers will need to learn the layout of the store, the types of products being offered, and how to find products interesting to them. Repeat customers are likely to already know the layout of the store (unless it has been recently remodelled in which case they have similar needs as a new customer) and are more likely interested in knowing what is new such as where a recently released product can be found. Adapting to each and every customer’s needs and requirements will always have a positive impact.
If you should decide that offering an avatar a notecard upon arrival, it may as well be a relevant one based on where they came from. Tools such as Visitor Source Tracker has multiple landing pads each with it’s own landing area. A landmark or SLurl is created for each location and given out from different sources (i.e. perhaps one from a billboard, another from a website, etc) and then depending on which landing area the avatar arrives on they can receive a specific notecard relevant to that specific interest which increases the chances of them reading it.