Every business is tough.
Every industry is super-competitive.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, the answer is simple… in theory. It’s to stand out from the crowd. It’s to become memorable.
In reality, though, achieving that is tough. But product sampling could be the answer.
What is product sampling?
Product sampling is giving a free sample of something to a consumer, with the aim of creating a long-term, emotional bond with them.
Businesses can then leverage that emotional connection to eventually sell them products.
The added benefit of product sampling is that amazing products can create a real buzz. If someone tries out an item and loves it, they might tell their friends [and so on].
That’s word of mouth marketing in action…
Why is product sampling so powerful?
Quite simply, it works because there’s nothing as effective as physically placing your product in a potential customer’s hands.
Millions and millions of people conduct business over the internet every single day, all over the world. But if a business wants to sell online, just think about all the obstacles standing in the way of success.
There’s the competition, just like in the ‘real’ world.
But there’s also the fact that, as consumers, we can’t hold anything in our hands when we buy online. We can’t touch or feel a product.
More importantly, we can’t be convinced.
Online businesses rely on the power of words to sell. And, as powerful as words may be, nothing beats actually trying a product.
On the internet, brands have to be completely trustworthy. Our attention spans online are short – apparently we have just 7 seconds to make a lasting impression with a website.
So, all things considered, it’s really hard to create a selling environment when you’re not able to show off all the attributes of the item you’re selling.
Good marketers can communicate benefits and value, but even the best marketing messages have limitations.
Creating an emotional connection with product sampling strategies.
Being in front of a customer is such a more efficient way of selling.
But let’s not be fluffy here.
Remember that many people may not know of your product, whatever it is.
Product sampling increases awareness on a mass scale.
If your goal is to help consumers better understand your product, product sampling is a must.
Maybe you have a delicious new fruit drink to sell.
Well, you can’t make people taste things with a billboard, banner ad or sales letter.
Perhaps you have an amazing range of skin creams?
They won’t be able to feel the effect of your product with a smartphone, tablet or flyer.
But if they’re in front of you, that’s different.
You can hand them a cup.
Or some kind of sample.
Assuming your product is good, the rest is simple.
When you execute a product sampling campaign, you can upsell a full-riced product to them if they like it enough…
… but that’s not really what product sampling campaigns are created for.
This is an exercise in brand awareness.
In pushing your business and your product into the consciousness of someone who had never heard of you when they woke up that morning.
Perhaps that’s why some product sampling campaigns fail?
Maybe some businesses can cope with the fact that this is a long-term marketing strategy.
Customer loyalty isn’t created over night.
First, you need to get people to like you.
Actually, initially, you need to get people to find you.
And that’s why product sampling is great. Rather than blowing your budget on a risky ad campaign, product sampling can be free.
Consumers love product sampling.
This is a huge point.
In today’s world, we are inundated with various messages.
From Facebook ads to emails, TV commercials to digital displays, they’re everywhere.
People are fed up.
They’re ignoring a lot of marketing.
Ultimately, it’s costing businesses a lot more to have a lot less influence.
But product sampling is completely different.
People actually love free samples, particularly if it’s offered in a non-intrusive way.
At the heart of this love is the fact that we just crave free stuff.
Because if people are open to trying new things, then that’s a great start
You see, it’s not hard to get rid of a tray of free cookies on a high street.
Online, for a business to sell something, it must first knock over a bunch of misconceptions and stereotypes.
(Without the chance to answer any questions, I might add.)
When we see ads online, we automatically put up barriers.
These kinds of barriers simply aren’t there when we come face-to-face with a real person and a real, free product sample.
Product sampling campaigns generate the best kinds of customers, too.
Ask any business owner what they want and the answer will usually be the same: guaranteed sales.
Product sampling is best suited to delivering repeat customers.
Consider your favourite type of deodorant, ice cream, biscuit… fact is, when we’re happy with a product, we don’t tend to change them very often.
Again, product sampling works because it has the power to form a very quick and extremely intense bond between the consumer and the product.
So, whilst product sampling is a long-term play, it can yield long-term results.
Coming up with product sampling ideas.
One of the great things about product sampling is that it’s a very simple concept.
You take your product, or part of your product, and give it away for free.
The general aim, as already discussed, is to create brand awareness.
Product sampling is most commonly associated with food products. If you head to your local shopping centre, you’ll almost certainly see a company offering some kind of free sample.
But because the premise of the strategy is so simple, you can get really creative.
Why not try to profile your target audience and work out where they hang out?
For instance, if your product were a makeup range, you wouldn’t head to a rugby club. Likewise, if you sell men’s trainers, you wouldn’t go to a bingo hall to try and give out free samples.
Not typically, at least!
Try and be a bit tactical.
Product sampling is great for getting the word out about something and generating interest, but it needs to be the right kind of consumer for your business.
Also, work out what promotional offers you’ll be using at the time of the campaign.
The easiest way to do this is structure a product sampling campaign out properly. Essentially, you could offer 3 tiers of offer:
Offer 1: This is the free sample.
Offer 2: This is an upgraded version, which costs X.
Offer 3: This is the full-price version, which normally costs X.
Let’s say you had a new cake range.
The free sample might be a little cup cake.
The larger cake could then be offered at 33% less than it’s normal retail price (if it’s bought there and then).
However, there’s no reason why product sampling campaigns have to be this commercially-driven.
Imagine the stir you’d create if you just handed out the large cakes?
No ifs, no buts – you just handed out the normal cakes… for free.
Any lucky recipient would sure remember that day.
The point is, then, that there’s no right or wrong way of doing this. It’s about clearly defining your business goals and creating an approach that works.
The benefits of product sampling.
Let us wrap up this article by recapping the main benefits of using product samples in your marketing strategies:
Product sampling campaigns are cost-effective.
Product sampling campaigns are usually cheap to execute.
You’re also in complete control, which is important. You decide what to give away, to whom and for how long.
The chances of costs spiraling out of control are very slim.
Product sampling enhances your brand.
Maybe you’ll reap the rewards of customers associating your business with an amazing product.
Perhaps you’ll just feel the love from the generosity of giving away something free.
Regardless, execute a stunning product sampling campaign and you can transform your brand forever.
Product sampling increases product awareness.
And that’s the whole point of this, isn’t it?
If you’d like consumers to know what you’re selling and why, there’s no strategy that’s more laser-targeted.
Product sampling can help you improve your product.
When you’re interacting closely with consumers, you have a great opportunity to gather feedback on your product.
Taste, feel, packaging… you can make iterations to suit the market.