Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Six Steps on How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product (Part 2)

Have a Plan

When Ole Henriksen started his self-named product line in 1984, he batched out and labeled his own samples in the back room of his spa in Los Angeles.

"Sampling has aways been a big part of our culture," Webb says. "Ole as a man is so generous, I don't think he even thought of it as sampling, more of a gift for your skin."

Today, OleHenriksen still samples generously, but with more practicality.

"Sampling is expensive," Webb continues. "It's a balancing game based on the size of your market and what you're trying to do. You can't just say, 'I want a million.'"

You can, however, plan for a little extra. For each major product line or holiday special, miYim pads its sampling orders by 20 percent to account for unexpected events or requests. The company also saves money by planning its samples six-to-eight months in advance to avoid impulse spending. It also limits its audience to lower shipping costs.

"It's not like lipstick," Chae says of her product. "Our toys range from 11 to 35 inches. We don't want them to be shipped and disregarded. That's wasteful."

Additional packaging costs sometimes are the more strategic option, however. After starting with poured samples, POM soon realized it could better build its brand by giving away eight-ounce bottles.

"People can take the experience with them," says Six. "It's more expensive, but it's been more successful for us."

Strut Your Stuff

Sampling requires you think outside the box, both literally and figuratively. What you package your sample in matters for consumer appeal. POM uses an iconic curvy bottle to reinforce the brand image, miYim uses eco-friendly packaging to extend its mission, and OleHenriksen uses bright-colored packaging to distinguish its various product lines.

"We're very bright, we're very vibrant, and we make sure our packets resemble our actual products so our customers remember us," Webb says. "Be creative with your packaging. Make it stand out in a way that someone really wants to open and try it."

Creativity matters in the way you package your samples as well. POM outside-the-box sampling efforts have helped bolster the company's notability. Two years after introducing its product, the company created the POMtini for the 2004 Oscars, generating serious PR buzz.

"If you're going to do sampling, you can either do it very generically, or you can create an experience for your consumer," says Six. "We think the latter works better."

Turn Samples Into Business

Are your sampling efforts working at all? In order to determine if your samples are actually effective, you need to track its success. Various metrics are useful. For example, in its sampling efforts, Gordon Grade hoped its college samplers would try the product and then join their social network. POM used a similar approach after their POMx coffee campaign.

"We saw a lot of feedback on Twitter," says Six. "We could read what people were saying about us."

Promotion codes are another way to boost sales and track effectiveness. This June, OleHenriksen will participate in the Skin Cancer Foundation's Sun Safety Expo in New York's Grand Central Station, handing out samples to any New Yorker, traveler, or tourist walking by. It is the first time the company is participating in such a large-scale event, and to track sales, representatives will give away codes for free shipping on with each sample.

"When your sampling dollars are really important to you, you really want to make sure you're tracking what's working and what's not," Webb says. "If we find that something like that doesn't work for us because we didn't have anybody come to our site and redeem the promo code, maybe we wouldn't do it next year."

In order for sampling to be successful, samples must become sales. Generous sampling is a waste of marketing dollars if no revenue comes from it. As a new company, Fitango is willing to give away as many samples as possible and work closely with their customers as they learn the product. But, the honeymoon will end soon.

"Our goal is to work with them, help them build these platforms, and then work with them to determine the price their services," says Muley. "Once we've convinced a small business to use our service, we will charge them what makes sense."

Sampling can be tricky, it can be tedious, and it can be taxing on your company. But, if in the end, your customer base grows, the effort will be well worth it.

"It's such an important part of the marketing mix," says Six. "If you want someone to try your product twice, they have to try it once."


Post a Comment