Try Before You Buy: Free Sample Marketing – Part 1

Telling people how great your product is will only get you so far – even if you’re very convincing. One popular way to convince an audience that your services are superior is to use recommendations from previous customers. That way, objective people with experience using your brand can refer you to potential new clients and customers. But what’s even better than hearing if something’s good secondhand? Learning that it’s good by yourself – for free.

Many companies can build their fan base by sending out samples of their products and services. Simply making a try-before-you-buy offer shows confidence. It means that you know your investment in creating and distributing the free samples will pay for itself because people are sure to enjoy – and ultimately buy – what you’re offering. Here’s some examples of familiar free sample marketing:

Food. We’re all familiar with those little samples given out at grocery stores that can make any shopping adventure just a bit more exciting. And let’s not forget the food court at the mall, where an alluring bite can get you to buy your meal from the stall you’re passing rather than the one next to it. What about wine tastings? Vineyards have made an entire pastime out of inviting potential customers to come try the seasonal wines before they purchase a corked bottle (or, who are we kidding, a crate of corked bottles). Sometimes you also get samples in the mail from snack companies who want you to taste first, buy later. Getting to open up a package of treats and try them out is so much more attractive than a coupon, isn’t it?

Cars. Of course you want to test drive that new model before you lay out a few thousand bucks for that new car! Test driving doesn’t just go for motor vehicles, but it applies to all kinds of bikes, boats, tractors and carts, too. For the most part, this has become common policy for selling anything on wheels or with an engine. Just don’t expect to test-fly that jet without a pilot’s license – that’s not quite how it works when you buy a plane ticket, thankfully.

Software. Remember when AOL used to send out all of those CDs with 15 or 30 hours of free trial membership? It certainly got a lot of people to try and trust this service they’d never seen before. Computer and mobile applications are a huge part of our society today, and it’s easy to create limited-access trial packages that allow prospective buyers to tinker around, create a profile and test out their need for your product before purchasing the complete product.

When giving out samples on a budget, it’s a great idea to target your ideal audience. Consider donating goods or distributing samples where industry professionals might gather. For example, if you make toys, sponsor a school or kid’s charity.

Look for more insights and ideas on this subject next week!

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