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Marketing / Business marketing

Get more business with sampling

I know sampling isn’t new. But lately I’ve been thinking that such an effective marketing tool, with the ability to get lots of people trying your product or service, is not used often enough.

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Let’s start with the obvious – bakers. There shouldn’t be a baker in this world that doesn’t have a free sample of something on their counter.

Then there’s the coffee shop that offers shots of different flavoured coffees.

And the ice creamery that’s only too happy to hand over a small delicious sample.

But surely these are the obvious ones. After all, sampling was made for food manufacturers, in fact it was most likely invented by them. A bit like Valentine’s Day being invented by florists!

But I don’t think sampling needs to stop there. Nor should it be the domain of product marketers alone. What about these for sampling ideas:

An illustrator who’ll do you a quick sketch of your pet to show you her style.

A butcher who has a BBQ going out the front of his shop.

A plumber who offers to do a health check on leaking taps.

"I’ll offer a free idea or two to businesses who are keen to attract more customers, in hope they’ll become a full client."

A dry cleaner who offers to press your tie or scarf whilst you wait.

A nursery that offers free seedlings.

A website developer who offers a free concept layout.

A transcriber who offers to transcribe a document for nix.

A masseur who offers two-minute neck rubs.

A hairdresser who offers free eyebrow trims.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

Sampling is definitely not limited to products, either. Service providers can sample their wares, too. For example a coach can offer a free session or a proof reader can offer to check a short document.

Whether you are selling products or services, the keys to effective sampling are:

  • it’s offered free and without obligation;
  • it’s done in the spirit of simply allowing people to trial your product or service; and
  • the sample should be a replica of what is offered for sale, just on a smaller scale.

This said, be mindful that the reason you are doing the sampling in the first place is to get sales. To give yourself the best chance of ensuring such a commercial outcome, have prices clearly displayed close by. You could even include a brief description about how the product or service being sampled may change the customer’s life.

Remember, too, to ask the customer for feedback.

So, can an Ideas Guy use this tool? Yes, I practice what I preach and I’ll offer a free idea or two to businesses who are keen to attract more customers, in hope they’ll become a full client.

Has sampling worked in your business? Add a comment and let me know.

Tim Reid

is the host of the Small Business Big Marketing Show that discusses how other small business owners from around the world go about their marketing. It's fun, entertaining and always full of helpful ideas and insights for you to apply to your business....immediately!

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