How does your company effectively drive sales? Does your company sample its products? While there may be products are less suited to sampling than say Ben & Jerry's Ice cream, it is sometimes these most unlikely candidates for a sampling program that can create the greatest success. Take a look, for example at how Tesla is sampling their electric cars.
Here is a short list of dos and don’ts. First let’s look at the don’ts.
1. Don’t sample something you don’t sell today. Unless you are doing market research for future offerings, this only frustrates the customer once they decide they like it and want to purchase it. This does nothing to support your current offering or your current sales opportunity.
2. Don’t use stale or old product that you need to get out of your inventory. This is likely the worst thing you could do if your goal is immediate sales results. Consumers are not stupid. They can identify stale or dated goods using their palate and powers of observation.
3. Don’t educate. Demonstrate. This might seem counter intuitive but the reality is consumers either like the taste, appearance or value or they don’t. Research has proven that you can’t change customer behavior unless you give them an incentive that is measurable and brings them a reward they value. Educating the consumer can lead to disagreements, or outright confrontation especially if the customer doesn't agree or understand the complexities associated with your new product. All the customer really wants to know is what will this do for me – pleasure, efficiency, save money, and how much am I saving today. If you feel you must educate your customer then use your website and handouts to provide this information.
Here are the Dos
1. Demonstrate how to use the product for its maximum value. Highlight ease, value and single most important benefit. Keep it super simple. Have a handout for the customer to take with them and if you are super clever, include a coupon for a purchase at a later date.
2. Sample the most popular items tested or proven that you have. The old saying that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your offering is true. Depending on your product line, say ice cream, you may want to offer your three top sellers. Maximize the opportunity and no matter what you may think they really don’t want to taste all your flavours. Research has also proven that increasing your offering brings diminishing returns on your conversion. Remember this. It’s important.
3. Stock on hand. Make sure you have plenty of stock on hand. This is often the single biggest issue at trade shows or consumers shows or in grocery stores. It’s easy to take returns but hard to sell product that is sitting in your warehouse.
4. Incentive. Make sure you offer a price reduction or a promotional offer that will encourage trial and inspire purchase. There are several effective ways to offer price reductions without changing your price point.
There are many considerations for a successful sampling program. My thoughts assume that marketing strategy, product development, distribution, channel, budgets and promotional planning are all in place. Other considerations around a sampling program include key message training, product tracking and protocols, stores support and demonstration company support. By no means is this list exhaustive. But from my experience these tips highlight the dos and don’ts of a good sampling program where you can affect sales today.
For more information on how to set up a successful product sampling program or launch your new product, please contact Barb Wild directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.