by Laura West
“Would you like to sample our Dark Chocolate covered Popcorn with a dash of Sea Salt?”
That’s what I heard when I went into a local chocolate shop. My answer was, “Why YES, thank you!”
Of course I tried a sample of the specialty popcorn and I was feeling good about the unexpected gift. Then I thought of the perfect person to buy a bag for (my son – so I could get some too.)
This was in addition to the gift I purchased – which was my original reason for coming into the store to begin with!
Sampling is a smart marketing strategy that retailers have used for years to increase customer engagement and sales.
As an online publisher and content creator, you can learn a lot about this marketing strategy that you can apply to your own business. It is common practice to offer a free report, checklist, or sample training on your website.
In my former career, as a VP of marketing for a group of 50 shopping malls across the U.S, we always worked the retailers to support their sampling. Why? Because it always worked to increase their sales.
At lunchtime in the food court, we would have Panda Express sampling their famous Orange Chicken. Notice that they gave away their best seller, their most popular entrée, not something left over.
Marketing Question #1
What about your free offer? Is it something that is from your best seller- your most popular and requested product? Or, is your free gift a second thought or something out of date from your current message?
Another well-known sampler is Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops. They have their famous little pink spoon. They encourage you to ask for a sampling of any flavor of ice cream and they give you this cute little pink spoon to enjoy the taste.
Once you taste you are more likely to make a purchase. And because they let you taste a flavor to make sure you like it – so you’ll be a happy customer, right? Plus you are more likely to experiment and try new flavors if you try it first…that means as a happy customer you are more likely to come back and visit again.
Marketing Question #2
Does your free gift encourage visitors to your website to sample your products or programs with little risk? Will it help them make the right decision about which of your products is the best fit?
I love how Amazon does this with Kindle ebooks. You can download a free sample chapter of a book. Nothing is more frustrating than buying a book and you just don’t like it. You feel like you just wasted your money. You are now an unhappy customer. However, if you read a free sample chapter and love it then, of course you’re hooked on the story so you’ve got to buy the book!
Free Sample = Happy Customer
Marketing Question #3
Can you give away a free “chapter” of your product or program to help a potential customer make a good choice? How can you ensure they will be a “happy customer?”
A couple weeks ago my husband and I were in San Francisco and we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf and over to Ghirardelli Square. We were looking for a little gift to take back to the boys. At the Ghirardelli Chocolate store they gave us each a small bar of chocolate.
Not just a taste, but a whole small square bar. It was a good a couple of bites worth and of course, we loved it, so we bought a whole bag of mixed flavors of those square bars for $25! We could have easily wandered in and wandered out without a purchase but that little bar got us engaged and helped us to make a decision to make a purchase.
Marketing Question #4
Is your current free gift something of value? Is it more of a “throwaway” item or does it feel valuable enough that your website visitor get engaged and wants more?
Now is the time to take a look at your Free Gift…
First, of all, you do have one on your website, right? If not – the first step is to create one.
For those who have a free gift on your website already…
Is your free gift is it something you LOVE to share? Is there excitement energy with your free gift? Is it either hugely practical, funny, helpful, or engaging in some way? Are you delighting your potential customers?
Let me ask you this…is your free gift something YOU would sign up for?
If you are less than enthusiastic then it’s time to rethink your creative marketing strategy around your free gift!Remember your free gift…It’s not a marketing gimmick…it’s truly providing a helpful a service to your potential clients.
Does your free gift reflect your latest message? Is it current with your message.
Is it what your Creative Inspirational Leader self – wants to most share?
When someone sees it…is it Irresistible? That means…will they gladly give up their email address to get a hold of it?
Is it full of practical advice, expertise and resources that they can put to use right now?
Is it so creative, unique and different that someone will sign up just to see what you are doing? Because your market loves unique and creative?
Is it beautiful and they can’t resist?
Is it just so inspiring and connected to their passion and dreams that they feel they have met a kindred spirit?
Use these questions…go back and look at your free gift or one you are creating and do a check in.
It doesn’t have to meet all of these but at least one and preferably two! This will make the difference between technically having a free gift and having a free gift that is irresistible and truly helps you build your list and community of like-minded members
This week I want you to do these two things
#1: Look around you for Free gifts and samples…notice every time you see a business using this strategy. How does it make you feel? Do you love it? Or not…notice which ones you like and how it was done…
#2: Then I want you to go to your own website and look at your free gift. Does it excite you? Would you be willing to stand in a crowd and be excited to share this sample with others (metaphorically speaking)? Depending on your biz you can even have a free sample to give out at meetings and conferences…a cool checklist or card…you can make a service biz tangible with your free taste as well.
When your marketing comes from a place of creativity, joy and a mission to make someone’s world better… THAT’s smart marketing!