As a consumer, I’m a big fan of free samples. (And who isn’t?) I love getting stuff for free, trying new stuff risk-free. Costco is a favourite store of mine for this reason.
And, again for this same reason, as an entrepreneur I’ve been collecting creative strategies for using free samples in my business. You might want to try them, too.
In particular, small businesses can learn a lot about free samples from the world of SaaS (software as a service).
Online software services have a variety of pricing models, but most of them offer something along the following lines:
- A one-month free trial
- Data for one domain at no cost
- A sign-up for the basic plan for free.
Most SaaS companies know that people hesitate about signing up for a new service. But, offering a free trial means you can see what the service is like, with no risk. SaaS companies also understand that somebody already using their service for free is more likely to upgrade to a paid subscription than is a total stranger.
Here are four creative ways to turn free samples into bigger profits, whether yours is a SaaS business or not.
1. Free samples as part of your branding
This week, I am the proud owner of two huge boxes of Nature’s Path cereals, thanks to a taste test last week at Costco. Already, the brand is one of my favourites. I even found a flavour my wife and daughter would like, and discovered that I pay less at Costco than at my local store. That free sample probably sold me dozens of boxes of cereal over the months to come.
What is also amazing about Costco is how it has made free samples part of its broader marketing plan. There are times when we’ve gone to Costco just because our stomachs were getting grumpy and there was free food to sample while we shopped.
Even if the store had not sold me cereal this week, free samples are a form of in-store entertainment. Costco has probably sold us hundreds of dollars of various products, just by pulling us into the store for the samples.
Another example? The Cora breakfast/lunch chain offers people a free sip of mango smoothie while they wait to be seated and a free “sucre à la crème” while they pay (my kids love that part!). I wonder if some people go to Cora just for the freebies – or maybe even subconsciously.
2. Free samples as a customer bonus
My Australian friend found that she gets free samples when she orders her hair products. Recreate You sends “2 Free samples with every order.”
To the consumer, it’s a nice bonus gift. It’s like getting more than you paid for. For the company, it’s a way to expand the number of products it sells to each customer.
Taking a page out of the SaaS handbook, once consumers use even a sample of a product, they are more likely to buy it than if they have to pay for a whole bottle just to try it. If each customer ends up buying one new product as a result of the free samples, the company has just doubled the value of each customer.
3. Free samples to kick-start a new business
Every start-up knows how hard it is to make waves in this era of information overload. Offering free samples is one way to get people to stop and take note.
If I was to open a restaurant, I would have someone standing outside the door offering a free sample of one of the signature dishes to everyone who walked by, along with a business card or take-out menu or whatever publicity I had.
Bar a bar called Louie did something similar, creating enough buzz that people came out just to try its free cucumber martinis. They created so much buzz that people were talking about it in social media for days.
4. Free samples to sponsor an event
People build an affinity for events in which they participate. When my daughter and I ran The Color Run this summer, we trained for a couple of months. When it was over, we took home souvenirs.
Sponsoring events is great branding, because you connect with your audience members where they are emotionally invested. So, what a great place to offer free samples: The official sponsors of The Color Run were Fruit2O and Sally Hansen. Specifically, Fruit2O offered free drinks for hydration, which I certainly appreciated. And we saved a couple of the little cups; we still use them.
Sally Hansen, meanwhile, left an array of nail polish colors sitting out on tables for runners to try, post-run. I declined. But my daughter had fun plastering her nails with the samples.
Similarly, Artic Ease used a similar strategy at the run. Its cold wraps are designed to ease pain after an injury, but they work just as well on sore muscles after a really good workout. Although we had just run three miles that day, consider that marathoners run 26 miles.
Imagine how sore their muscles are when they reach the finish line; imagine how grateful they are when someone provides relief!
In fact, Arctic East shipped 80,000 samples to the Chicago and Philadelphia Marathons. How many runners went on to buy them at full price later, to use for training for their next run?
Free samples are a versatile marketing tool. Here are those four ways listed to leverage them:
- Part of your branding
- A customer bonus
- A kick-start for a new business
- Sponsorship of an event
There are many ways to leverage free samples to boost your business. You can probably think of more.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
How To Localise Your Marketing Campaign
Here are some of the best tips to help you understand how to localise your marketing campaign without a lot of effort.
No matter which market you are trying to reach, localising the content you use for your marketing campaign will help you achieve a much smoother outcome. Localising your marketing campaign as a whole can have a number of benefits on the way your audience views your company to how effective the strategy actually is.
If you’re interested in starting to localise your marketing campaign as well, keep reading.
Make sure your products are compatible with the new markets
You might have noticed that there are certain big companies which have spread all around the world and offer their products and services to many different markets.
One of the things that all of these companies are very careful about is making sure the products they provide each geographic area with are compatible with the tastes and traditions of the people.
For example, many big fast-food chains such as Burger King, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s have stores in Asia where they offer dishes which contain seaweed or tofu, which are local to this certain market.
If you want your marketing campaign to become a success, you will need to make sure that you promote these new, special for each location products, so that your customers will know they were made especially for them and their needs and they can then look for them either online through your website or in their areas.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
Work with the right professionals
In order to localise your marketing campaign, you will need to work with professionals who will be able to provide you with all the right information and tools you need in order to make it successful.
The most important person to look out for is a professional and preferably native translator. Machine translations can never produce the same outcome as a professional translator who is a native of a certain language.
Many online professional platforms for translators such as TheWordPoint note that “There will always be certain words and phrases which are native and can’t be translated unless a language is your mother tongue”. This is why a human translator will always be far superior to a machine,
Along with that, you will want to invest in a professional who will be able to help you localise your keywords and make sure that you are targeting your marketing campaign to the right audience around the world.
Get feedback from your new audience
Last but not least, it is important to remember that you should always work hard to improve the content of your marketing campaigns. When trying to create certain products and services available for other parts of the world, it is normal for you to make mistakes and have to correct things as you go.
If one of your customers has some feedback to give you, kindly accept it and work hard in order to correct any mistake. You can even have a short poll on your social media accounts or website and ask your customers whether you could improve your localised services in any way.
Not only will this help you show your professionalism, but your customers will also appreciate how much effort you put into pleasing them with your services. This tactic will help you attract more potential customers and turn your marketing campaign into a success.
Adjusting your marketing campaign the right way
Localising your marketing campaign will be a little difficult at first, but the good news is that you will only keep improving your tactics if you decide to put enough effort into it. Working with local, native professionals and adjusting your products to your customer’s needs, will help you succeed and stand out in your field.
What do you think is the most important thing when localising a marketing campaign?
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