Does your business sell a particular product – organic shampoo, handmade cards and illustrations, cupcakes or even something like vegan condiments and sauces? Have you ever considered giving out samples?
I’m assuming if the answer is yes then it was successful and if that is the case then this blog post may not be for you, as you probably already know the value of a carefully planned sample distribution! But, if you have given out samples before and it wasn’t successful then read on. And for those of you who have never even considered it, or who have dismissed the idea of samples as not appropriate for your business or a waste of time and money, you probably want to give this blog post some attention.
Samples – we all know what they are; a taster of your product, and they seem to have made a resurgence more recently. This isn’t some random marketing trend, there is a method to this – if you can get your product sample in front of the right person at the right time, they will try it. That is the first and second step you need to gaining more customers; coming into their consciousness and even into their consideration.
I work with a range of businesses, from caterers to recruitment companies and a lot in between. As I have fashion and beauty clients I regularly buy magazines including Vogue, to keep abreast of all the latest trends and press coverage.
If you open any Vogue magazine you will find plenty of fragrance and hair product samples. These brands like Dior or St Tropez know that their target audience can be found reading fashion magazines. The people who read Vogue fit a certain demographic that the brands want to reach. What better way to reach them than by advertising in the magazine? But, plenty of brands advertise in Vogue – how can they stand out?
They do this in a few ways – some creative (using different imagery and paper from the rest of the magazine) but also by offering the reader something free. They are adding value to the readers’ experience of the magazine by providing a sample that they will probably try. And, once the reader has tried the amazing product they are more likely to want to buy it!
Just take a look at the fragrance samples I’ve included above and below – they have come a long way from the peel back and wipe perfume samples from days gone by. And for good reason too. They now have little box style samples and removable samples you can pop in your handbag and spray to use when you need it. You can’t carry around a whole page of a peel back but these samples are easily removable and sized for use on the go – so the brand has really considered adding value in a memorable and longer lasting way. This means more opportunity to convince the reader to become a buyer of the product.
Magazines are not the only places for samples – you just need to think about where your target audience can be found and more than that, you must consider when they are in the right frame of mind to consider sampling (and potentially buying) your product. Shopping centres and town high streets are prime space for giving out samples because people are already in “shopping” or “consideration” mode and are more likely to be receptive to a free sample and then potentially act on it.
Just remember samples are often given out with a flyer that includes a discount coupon – it’s all very well them enjoying the freebie but they need to know what to do next. A flyer with more information about your brand and an incentive to buy is just the ticket. Depending on what your product is you may want to consider giving out samples at busy footfall areas too like train stations – but remember, people are busy and rushing and won’t always be in the right frame of mind to be primed for becoming a future customer.
You can even include information on the packaging itself to tell more of your story and encourage the recipient to find out more or take action like the example from Dermalogica below…
You don’t have to physically give out your samples if you don’t want to too – you can place them in goodie bags for events or send out in an affiliated brand’s packaging. An example is when you buy clothes online and they are sent with “freebies” in the packet from other brands like a Miss Selfridge package including a Loreal shampoo sample. Again, only do this where there is crossover and your target audience is the same.
I went from receiving a lipstick sample at the perfect time – I had left my usual one in a different handbag and wanted some for my next meeting. The timing was pure luck but I liked the product so much I went from having the sample to going into a Charlotte Tilbury store and buying the lipstick.
Remember, you don’t have to have a physical product to consider samples too. Businesses that provide a service can give “taster” sessions or samples of their service with micro-treatments or shorter/condensed versions of their service.
Samples are often dismissed as too expensive but for food businesses and cafes or even some services businesses that give a “sample” of their service but this isn’t always the case. Samples can generate a strong ROI and are a a very effective tool.
If you are interested in the idea of samples and want to talk about how a marketing strategy from Charlotte Says can help your business reach the next level, get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org