What is free sample marketing?
Free sample marketing gives products or services away to prospective customers. It is especially effective in the health, beauty, food, and drink industries. While inc.com concedes that these industries are the ones that cash in due to giving away freebies, inc says that giveaways work for any retailer.
Giving out free samples to the target market is a way to quickly gain many customers because you effectively get your product or service to the people most likely to want what you are selling. In addition, people will try something new if it doesn’t cost them money. And, of course, the psychology of giveaways includes the obligation consumers feel when given something.
Prospects may tell others about what they got for free. Sometimes they share or show the product to others who also buy and spread it. Getting free stuff makes people feel valued and happy with you. As a result, many repeat customers are created.
Sure, you will have people who take the sample from you and move on. But, more often than not, you will gain many customers for each item of value you give away. A sudden influx of cash into any new business is always good.
Benefits of Giving Free Samples
People these days use brick-and-mortar stores to browse. Then they make their purchases online. In-store giveaways often make people feel obligated to the person who gave them the freebie, encouraging in-store purchases. But, of course, some customers will be more convinced to buy that thing online, as intended.
Whatever your scenario is, many benefits can come from sample marketing. According to copywritematters.com and breezepeople.com, product giveaways:
- Create brand awareness
- Build trust in a brand
- Create business relationships
- Foster customer loyalty
- Boost the business’ reputation
- Introduce new products (and maybe their other products)
Raise awareness of upcoming campaigns and offers
- Build an email list of individuals in the business’ target market or enable the company to find the niche/target market.
- Create a buzz and word of mouth among customers
- Increase traffic to the company website
- Increase website subscriptions
- Increase conversions to sales
Along with all those benefits, one must consider the cost of the giveaway. There is always an investment of either time or money. According to VSS Communications Industry Forecast, marketers spent $2.2 billion on sample marketing in 2009.
Some samples cost the marketer every time they reach out, while other giveaways allow the businesses to get away with just an initial investment. It depends on the nature of what is being sold.
For instance, online writers may make time investments, giving up a day or two to create a free literary masterpiece for every editor they hope to write for in the future. In addition, much upfront cash is spent whenever paid employees distribute food and drink handouts.
Digital giveaways, on the other hand, don’t cost anything except a one-time investment. For instance, once online marketers have their free giveaway e-book and the other components of their email campaign written, their businesses gain customers daily and profit on autopilot.
Do free samples increase sales?
In a word, yes. Sample giveaways increase sales, so sample marketing is still done today.
Sales conversions for some markets reach as high as 90%—word of mouth and brand loyalty kick in following giveaways, creating revenue spikes, and launching businesses.
In one 2017 Bringham Young University study, researchers measured the sales and other benefits that various grocery stores and coffee shop chains experienced from giving free samples to consumers.
They discovered that giveaways:
- Make the in-store shopping experience enjoyable or beneficial.
- Then, give an immediate spike in sales during the giveaway and the following week.
- Then, continue to improve sales for up to eight weeks afterward.
- Cause many more people to adopt the product if customers are repeatedly exposed to the same item.
- Expand sales for the product’s category
- Are twice as effective as discounts or product rearrangements
- Benefit small stores more than big stores
How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product
There are some key points that you need to remember to make your giveaways effective. First, you need to give an adequate amount of the product away to be helpful to the consumer.
- Make sure they know how to use it. Include instructions if needed.
- Make sure they know where they can purchase the product.
- Make sure you give your samples away to your target market. Of course, that means you must go to where your target market congregates, whether in a physical place or an online community.
How and where you promote your product or service through giveaways depends on your product or service. You want to give your samples to people likelier than others to purchase what you have to sell.
You see people in grocery stores or flea markets giving out bites of food to shoppers. You may receive cosmetics or similar items in tiny trial-size packaging in goodie bags you receive at an event if you are a woman. Some women’s magazines have full-page advertisements with samples of a particular perfume’s scent within a type of glue on the paper. Some examples are mailed directly to prospective buyers. Some business-to-business (B2B) online writers and other marketers will give a free service sample or data away when attempting to start a business relationship.
Samples are sometimes loaned to prospective customers. Carpet and countertop samples are examples where remodelers want to visualize the product before buying and installing it. These samples are too valuable to give away, but they enable high-ticket purchases to follow and make the customer happy with his purchase.
Online marketers give away a free e-book or some other desirable digital product in exchange for the prospect’s email address which the marketer later sends content and advertisements. This is a highly cheap kind of giveaway that makes your options self-identify. Many email subscribers become customers, so they say, “the money is on the list.”
Freebie websites have emerged, which aggregate promotional freebies in one place. Sometimes consumers must refer a friend or fill out a survey to receive the item.
At the very least, both types of online marketers get valuable information before giving away their “free” product or service.
Unscrupulous online marketers give away samples that have a form of trickery attached to them. For example, they give a one-month free trial of their online service, but they give prospects their credit card number and agree to monthly charges when the free trial period is up. Candidates are assured they can cancel the subscription, which is usually true.
However, this works for marketers because of human nature. People forget to cancel the subscription and end up paying for at least one month for the service. These subscriptions are often double-digit monthly expenditures.
Most free samples leave a warm and fuzzy feeling within the prospect’s heart. Still, these paid subscription-related free sample offers often bring regret and resentment when the opportunity has no intention of continuing the subscription.
Some samples are not given away but are sold in trial-size packaging. You see toiletries such as shampoo sold that way. They are practical for traveling with.
Hotels and motels provide customers with trial-size soaps and things with the hotel/motel’s name on them. The customer essentially pays for them when he rents the room. They often bring these advertorial items home or give them away.
In summary, when it comes to giving out free samples to prospects, today’s marketers:
- Pay people to prepare and hand out samples such as food directly to prospects.
- Include samples within other items, such as perfume scents in magazines
- Include examples in goodie bags at target market events
- Mail samples to prospective buyers’ homes
- Pitch writing services to editors through initial free articles
- Loans out expensive models, such as pieces of carpet and countertop material
- Give a free online product, such as an e-book, in exchange for the prospect’s email address and agreement to receive emails containing both content and advertisements.
- Join a freebie site that requires prospects to fill out a survey or give up a friend’s email address before they receive the free sample.
- Give a one-month free trial to an online service if the customer gives their credit card information and agrees to monthly billing for the service after the trial period is up.
- Sell trial-size samples outright – not free, but nearly free.
- Market their brand by giving away small valuable items related to the business’ service the customer paid money for – things like small packaged hotel soap and shampoo