Tuesday, October 05, 2010

How to Get Products for Free Part 16

The chapter in which I start to realise it's much easier to get freebies with a sidekick and attempt to sway my wife in to the fray. Will she be willing to help? Will I add anything to my ambitious total. And most importantly what does this mean for anyone else who wants to get stuff for free on their own? All will be revealed:


Chapter 16: The search for a sidekick
Just as I began to settle in to my nice little summer routine of getting freebies and sleeping my dreams were shattered. In mere days I would start my final year of University and my quest would have to compete with 12,000 word essays, exams and deadline after deadline.

To make matters worse, I had 7 months left and my quest and hadn’t even reached a quarter of my total. Time was ticking away, pressures were mounting and I found myself stuck with products to review and no time to write them.

It was at that point I decided like any good Superhero it was time to recruit myself a sidekick, and who better than Marie? She had already endured my quest for 5 months, why not secretly take her in to the fold and
use her skills to complete my quest?

Rather unsurprisingly Marie had no interest in reviewing any of the stuff I had just received (including zombie game Dead Rising and dancing game Dance Factory) so I knew I would need to tempt her in to the fold with
a convincing product.

So like a super villain luring the hero in to their lair with a stolen gem I set out to find the right present to convince her to switch to my side. This was like trying to find the perfect present for any other occasion.
I worked with the same kind of grace you would expect from a crafty party planner, or old romantic, secretly trying to surprise their loved one.

After much hunting I found a freebie which looked perfect; Café Retro, a classically styled coffee and cappuccino maker worth an impressive £150.

The ideal way to a woman’s heart?

I sure hoped so, and worked my hardest to convince the PR rep to send one over in the hope it would work its magic on Marie. After weeks of silence, it arrived lovingly packaged and looking as good as new.

Marie, unaware of this arrival was shocked when I returned to our flat with a box the width of my arm span, and I put it to her:

“How would you like to review stuff on the site”
“You mean you got a freebie for me?”
“That’s right, why don’t you open it up?”
As with any present the wrapping was swiftly torn off and thrown to the floor, at which point Marie remarked, “What is it?”
“It’s a coffee maker. Do you like it?”
“But I don’t like coffee…”

And just like that I had performed the ultimate male error. I had given her a present that contained something she didn’t like. Worse yet any moron could have seen her hatred for coffee by the cups of tea she had every day. All of this negated the bigger issue, I too hated coffee and thus we found ourselves in the possession of a coffee machine that neither of us had a taste for.

How do you review something that makes a product you hate? Why you blag of course:

Read the Cafe Retro Review

In the review I used the word ‘drink’ instead of coffee, and made no mention of the coffee taste. I also resorted to an anecdote about Starbucks to pad out the word count, and probably talked about the nobs and dials a bit too much.

Never the less we reviewed the machine and its ability to froth up a drink, which are the key components so I’d like to think we got away with it. We ran in to a similar problem when samples of Coco, Café and Tea Direct arrived, and in this case asked friends and family for their views in shaping our review.

Whilst the coffee maker didn’t work out how I had planned, a later product did a perfect job of convincing Marie to join the get side of life: L’Oréal lip gloss and mascara.

Read the L'Oreal Review

Now I know what you’re thinking. If Marie reviewed the product then surely I breached my own rule by letting someone else do the testing. After all “I must try everything I review”. That’s what got me in to the situation with Veet wax strips and the rules were there to guide me.

So in that vein I applied the mascara to myself, looked in the mirror and realized it wasn’t for me. After I passed my comments on to Marie for her review and proceeded to wipe my eyelashes vigorously in the hope it would come off.

Returning to Marie’s review, (and away from this anecdote before it haunts me for the rest of my life) I was pleased to see that the readers were enjoying it.

Once I delved a little deeper in to the figures I realized that Marie’s review was the most popular one that had ever been posted on the site. In just one review she had attracted more readers than I had done in everything I had written so far.

And just like that Marie had changed the face of Freebie-Man in a single day. She had attracted a new female audience and new female companies to get freebies from.

Truly she was a great sidekick in the making.

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My Policy

Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).