Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Six Steps on How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product (Part 1)

Got a product? Give a sample. Make sampling easy and effective for any product in any industry with these six steps.

Decide Why You're Sampling

For a toy, it's the feel. For a drink, it's the taste. For a fragrance, it's the smell. Whatever your product, you need to develop a clear idea of why sampling is a necessary part of your marketing or sales plan. Before you plot your sampling strategy, return to your mission and company's core values to remind yourself why your product is worth trying.

Five years ago, Hosung NY started miYim, a line of plush stuffed animals and accessories for infants and toddlers made from certified non-toxic, recycled cotton. At miYim, in-store samples of velvety toys are all about the "aww" value that comes from displaying examples, and letting customers touch and squeeze them.

"When people think of our product, they're thinking cotton canvas or jersey, but our toys are as soft that they are almost always surprised," says Serah Chae, president of Hosung NY. "Because of that surprise factor and the obvious cuddle factor, our business model requires very diligent sampling."

For newer companies, sampling gives customers a sense of understanding and experience with an unknown product before they commit to buy. Fitango, a start-up that develops "action plans" to motivate behavior for individuals and businesses. Its online marketplace, similar to Apple's App store, offers a variety of samples frameworks for free.

"We're young," says Parinda Muley, Fitango's vice president of business development. "It's in our best interest for customers to be as comfortable with us as we are with them. We're willing to take the hit if it means one more business is using our platform."

But even more frequently sampled products, notably cosmetics, strive for consumer comfort.

"Skin care products and makeup can be really expensive so you want to make sure you're making a well informed decision," says Stacey Webb, director of marketing at OleHenriksen, a natural skin care company based in Los Angeles. "Consumers are so savvy these days, they don't want to spend their money on anything they aren't sure about."

Pick Your Product

Once you know the why, you next need to decide the what. For new companies with a single product, like Dr. Drip Coffee, this decision is simple. For more developed product lines, a few more choices arise.

One option is to vary your samples. OleHenriksen rotates between offering bestselling products, new products, and hidden gems—products the company believes could become best-sellers after they are discovered. With each category, the skin care line still strives for mass appeal.

"You can't always control who gets the sample," Webb says. "Make sure it's going to be something that generally a lot of people will try, like, and see results."

For companies such as Fitango, which has with a potentially large and diverse market, providing differing samples allows the company to reach more of its target audience with separate marketing for segments like education, business, and leisure. For others, like miYim, limiting the samples to the newest products proves more effective.

"For the new customers, it's absolutely critical," says Chae. "But even with people who already know us, they still want to see what we can do differently."

Whichever direction seems right for you, make sure it's right for your consumer as well.

Find a Target Audience

Like any other sales tactic, targeting the right audience is critical for your sampling success.

POM Wonderful, the company behind pomegranate juices, teas, and bars, appeals to a wide spectrum of consumers. So, the company divides its market into several pillars to make its extensive sampling efforts more effective.

"We focus around entertainment, philanthropy, health and beauty, fashion, the arts, and epicurean," says Rob Six, POM's vice president of communications. "That's where we see the bulk of our consumer and we try to target our sampling strategy around events that cater to those pillars."

For example, POM utilized guerilla-sampling tactics similar to Dr. Drip's on campuses nationwide for the debut of the company's POMx coffee. For its original juices, POM samples at marathons and epicurean events, such as SF Chefs, transforming the product into both a refresher for runners and an ingredient for foodies.

Because it's hard to target a baby audience directly, miYim takes a different approach, sending regular samples to up to 100 mommy bloggers with huge followings.

"They want to physically give it to their two-year-old and let them chew on it and see how they feel about it," says Chae about the bloggers. "They review the product online, and that's been a very powerful PR tactic for us."
Not just for toys, using reviewer samples are helpful for hard-to-reach audience. Once you have an audience, you need a plan.

Credit : Inc Magazine


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