Everyone likes to get free stuff. This is why it's such a great promotional tool. But most businesses give away their own products or some little trinket with their logo on it. That's fine, but consider another alternative: OPP, Other People's Products.
Free stuff can generate traffic, good will and awareness. It doesn't have to be your stuff though. Give away a free coffee from a nearby shop, an order of chicken wings from a local restaraunt or wing joint, a free oil change. The possibilities are endless and it can be just as inexpensive as giving away your own stuff.
Talk to your network partners or neighboring merchants. Many of them will agree to give you the items free if you pay for the printing of the coupon and limit the amount you're going to give out. For example, a free coffee with a purchase of $x or more, or a free apple pie certificate included with an invoice.
Promotions like these can generate value for both the business giving out the free goodies and the business providing them. Your customers will love it and they'll remember you, even if you are a hardware store giving away hamburgers. The idea is to make their visit to your establishment pleasant, enjoyable, fun, something they want to do again.
Free stuff is a great promotional vehicle, especially when the economy is slowing down and consumers are feeling tight on cash. Be a hero, get down with OPP.