With conversions of up to 90%, it’s no wonder that giving away free product samples has been a staple of selling for decades. However, despite its history, many companies still struggle to balance the scales of sending out freebies and getting enough response to keep business booming.
Whether you’re pitching to stores, angling for a public review or hoping to reach the disciples of a social media influencer, there are a few things to keep in mind for sending out samples of your goodies.
1. Define why a sample will be better
There are lots of ways to raise awareness of your product, and it’s unlikely that sampling will be the most cost-effective. Make sure that you’re only giving away goods that have a clear advantage to being sampled first-hand, like a unique flavour, a luxurious texture, or an inviting scent. Rather than sending out physical packages, could you achieve the same effect with brand ambassadors and demonstrations in a supermarket, shopping centre or town centre?
2. Don’t scrimp on packaging
It’s not just about what you’re sending; how it arrives is important too. If your product is damaged, spoiled or just plain boring, it’s not going to leave the right impression on your reviewer.
Your packaging should be memorable for all the right reasons; use of sustainable materials, an eye-catching design and superior functionality compared to your competitors. It should be the item a buyer, influencer or end consumer naturally reaches for and feels good about using again and again.
Perishable goods need to be kept fresh, and potentially chilled. Work with an experienced food and drinks packaging supplier, like The Bag Broker, to make sure that your bottles, bags or pouches are up to standard. You can also have your packaging printed with a bespoke brand design, to boost its perceived quality.
3. Share your story
Apart from the amazing quality of your product, is there another story that might appeal to a buyer, reviewer or blogger? If your company backstory or professional ethos could land you some extra kudos or publicity, don’t keep it a secret. Whether your firm was founded single-handedly at a kitchen table, or you are dedicated to promoting a humanitarian or sustainability cause through your practices or profits, be loud and proud about it.
4. Be generous
Assuming that you have several products in your range, it’s a good idea to send your reviewer more than one sample. Consider sending an example of a best-seller, a new creation and one of your personal favourites that could be considered a “hidden gem” within your range. If your products cater to individual tastes (particularly make up or clothing), then you might let your recipient choose their preferred colour or size options.
If you only have one product in your range? The question changes from “what”, to “how many”. Will one example of your creation be enough to demonstrate how good it is? If you’re selling consumables, it may be wise to send a few so that they can be tried and reviewed more than once.
Demonstrating the consistent quality of your products (as well as how easy you are to work with) is only a good thing.
5. Plan what you’re going to include
Don’t forget to account for how these samples will affect your inventory. Will sending out samples of your best sellers limit their availability for paying customers? How easy is it to make more of your products? Prepare a plan for managing a spike in traffic, from production requirements to a process for handling back orders.
It’s not just the samples themselves, either; you’ll need to produce additional information for each package, such as:
- A short blurb about your company
- A fact sheet about the product – why you have made it, what it contains, how much it costs, relevant instructions or precautions etc.
- Details about related products
- Information about prominent reviews, articles or research papers that have already been written about the product
- A personalised note from you, thanking the reviewer for their time, and recapping what exactly you’ve included in their delivery.
- A business card
- Return shipping details, if it’s a product that needs to be returned after testing
- Promotional branded goodies (optional)
6. Find out when to send them
You might have developed a campaign schedule around sending out samples, but have you checked whether it suits the people receiving them? Buyers usually work to strict purchasing cycles, and there is no point sending out products after the category review deadline. Influencers often work on their own specific timelines too, and even if they agree to promote your product, it might not be at the time most convenient for you.
Liaise with your recipients as much as possible to ensure that your products stand the best chance of being considered, saving yourself the expense of sending out goods that won’t be looked at for weeks.
7. Follow up
Don’t send your samples out into the world and then sit around waiting for a response. If you don’t hear back from your recipient within a couple of days of delivery, send them a short email asking for feedback. You have absolutely nothing to lost by doing this, and could glean valuable insights for your marketing or future developments.
Although sampling is expensive, it can also be very lucrative when planned properly. If you do choose to send out examples of your products, the most important thing is to keep the numbers balanced and weigh out the potential reward against the cost of each shipment. If you decide that you can’t afford to provide freebies to every person that asks for one? That’s absolutely fine – just be honest.