The first image that comes to mind when hearing the word “sampling” is probably of college students handing out individually wrapped candy bars or one of those fast food restaurants in a mall who place mini samples of their food with toothpicks in it to attract consumers passing by.
Sampling, however is about much more than just offering a small tasty morsel to get someone interested in having a whole meal. If used correctly, it can be a way of introducing your business to a potential customer in a way that they are much more likely to take a risk on and try out – particularly if your core business is about selling something of higher value, such as a large contracting project or higher priced retail items. Sampling can be a great way to build trust.
To help you think about how you might use sampling in your business, here are three examples and potential models to consider:
1. Content engagement. As tax season comes closer, many accounting firms are releasing initial advice on how to prepare taxes or even offering to file certain types of simple returns for free. Each is an example of providing expertise or abbreviated services in the form of content to engage potential customers.
2. Personality engagement. In some businesses, the people that you have and their personal connection with customers can be the most powerful motivator to make a sale. This model is the one that personal trainers at gyms often use to offer free workouts to people in order to build a relationship which may often convert into a paying client.
3. Testimonial engagement. The best form of endorsement, if you can manage it, is to get your customers to talk about you. Colleges and universities use this technique frequently as they ask current students to meet with potential students and offer them a sampling of the student culture.
Regardless of which one you choose, there are several basic, yet critical, factors to keep in mind as you start to use some form of sampling to promote your business which will help you make sure that whichever type of sampling you choose to use will result in the highest potential for bringing your business new customers.
- It will be tempting to keep the sampling that you offer at the lowest possible value, but make sure that it is high value/cost enough to engage your customers.
- Provide clear instructions (with phone number or email address) on how they can get in touch to work with you again.
- Encourage those who you provide sampling for to share it with their social and professional networks.