Have you ever stood in line to try a sample of a product? And did you ever get the sensation that something given to you for free was the greatest thing? That’s the power of using free samples to effectively promote a product.
Some small business owners may think that they may as well be giving away money. After all, that is exactly what they are doing when they distribute a product without any compensation. However, consider free promotions from a different perspective. You have to spend money anyway to market your product, right? Rather than considering a free promotion strategy just giving away money, it is actually fiscally proper to mark the cost of a free promotion under a marketing expense.
The idea behind a free sample promotion is to get in touch with your target market base and have them try your product. With a free sample to test, they will certainly want to purchase your product in the future, now that they know it satisfied a need or want.
Let’s take a look at how free promotions have worked for other businesses:
Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company was founded in 1995 in Denver, CO, with the idea of bringing the best tastes of Asian, American, and Mediterranean pasta cuisine in a fast-food environment. When they expanded into Portland, Oregon in 2006, they opened a new restaurant in the trendy “Pearl” district, where newly developed class-A office buildings and high-demand condominiums made up the market.
A week before they opened doors to the public, they offered coupons to residents and office workers in the neighborhood to come in for a free dish of food a day before they officially opened to the public. That’s right. Free. Lunch.
Did they succeed? Their “unofficial” opening was a huge success, with cooks preparing hundreds of meals all day long. The next day, the “official” opening day, people were lined up around the block to get in to try the tasty pasta dishes. Since then, they have enjoyed a loyal following of hungry patrons.
Free Sample Promotion Ideas
How can you form a strategy for a free product promotion? Here are a few ideas that a proven to work.
Offer Samples in Your Store
This could be your opening day, an anniversary of doing business, or simply as a well-published “thank you” to customers in the neighborhood. The best way to succeed is to advertise your free products in newspapers and even on TV news spots if you can get it. Be sure to write and distribute a press release of your free sampling day.
Give it Away On The Street
Red Bull found a loyal following of thousands or more customers when they first hit the market by hitting the main streets of major cities and giving away free cans of their product to passers-by. This strategy could work for you just in your local city.
Sponsor an Event and Give Samples
If you have the marketing budget, you could sponsor a popular event where your brand can get plenty of promotion and your products can get plenty of free testing. It could be a local golf tournament, a local marathon, or even just a popular local festival of the arts.
Mail Free Samples
This requires a very focused mailing list with your target market and a product that is easily mailed. However, with the right list of recipients and a product in the hands of the people who you know could use it, this method can work very well to promote your product.
Hold a Drawing for a Free Product
Can’t give multiple products away? Are your products a little too costly for everyone to try for free? Consider Matt’s new bicycle shop, The Cyclery. Matt sells well-constructed bicycles made and assembled in America. The bikes are high-end and often run about $500 to $1000 or more. This is not a type of product you want to give away.
However, to promote the opening of his business, Matt offered a drawing for a single free bicycle. Everyone who came to his shop on opening weekend was entered in a drawing. In the meantime, Matt gave away free food and even set up a cool bicycle obstacle course for kids to test their skills. With this kind of promotion, he was able to get in touch with a wide number of new customers, and he only had to give away one product.
If you are itching to increase your sales or improve the awareness of your company, then a free giveaway could be just the ticket!