Super-Charge Product Sampling, Event Marketing

There's been a lot of research conducted to figure out what consumers want from brands on social media networks such as Facebook. What can the brand provide? What type of value can it add? One of the most frequently cited is the coupon -- which is a bit underwhelming, leaves the brand out of the conversation and may be leaving dollars behind, too.

Consumers don't go to the web to talk about brands (unless they're complaining); they go to share their experiences. A better way to get consumers talking about brands online is to give them something to talk about in the first place.

Product sampling and event marketing have long proven to be the most effective way to generate trial and drive purchase conversion. Nine out of ten consumers say they would purchase a product if they experienced it and were satisfied with it, says the Promotion Marketing Association. And today, social media tools can extend the story on a scale never before imagined. Once the products are distributed, consumers can and should be encouraged to share their experiences online. We all know the power of word of mouth to generate trial and use. Nielsen reports that eight out of ten consumers say they'd try products recommended to them.



Sounds simple, but don't think you can merely hand your product or share your experience with savvy, time-crunched consumers and expect that they'll automatically try it and then talk about it on Facebook. The most effective sampling efforts reach consumers at the point of use, when and where they are most receptive to the brand's message. For example, 40% of travelers forget to pack toiletries. Giving away a razor or toothbrush in hotels can go a long way; hotel gift shops are so expensive. Provide an energy drink or other healthy snack at the top of a ski slope. You get the idea.

Then what? Once you've identified where your consumers are open to trying new things and what their needs are, give them a reason to share their experience. Research tells us that consumers are happy when they're heard and respected. But you've got to make it easy for that sharing to happen and for them to be heard.

Drive consumers to a powerful online engagement platform that enables them to share their opinions across their social media profiles. Once there, give your new brand advocates space to write what they think, through free-form comments and with relevant surveys.

Programs designed with this model consistently demonstrate a swift increase in conversations and reviews across social media channels and significant increase in intent to purchase, to recommend the product, and an increase in share of voice over the competition. A nutritional supplement brand using this method saw Facebook fans increase 94%, and 85% said they intended to purchase the product. A razor brand increased share of voice to competitors by 18%.

Bottom line? The most authentic way to get someone to provide a recommendation is to get him or her to experience the product, first-hand. Then, their review is real. It's authentic. Offering a coupon on Facebook is like dropping in on a cocktail party conversation without being invited. Give them something meaningful when they want to receive it, ask them what they really think, and have the tools at the ready that enable them to share their opinions with their friends with ease. That's authentic engagement that delivers a real return on your marketing investment.

5 comments about "Super-Charge Product Sampling, Event Marketing ".
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  1. Stephanie Schwab from Crackerjack Marketing, April 6, 2011 at 7:32 p.m.

    I'm interested in understanding if anyone is creating technology to facilitate product sampling via Facebook and Twitter. When you open up sampling to such a broad audience, you need to figure out a way to fulfill efficiently while maintaining a connection to the social platform. Are there such tools available?

  2. Antony Young from Optimedia International - US, April 6, 2011 at 7:51 p.m.

    Brian Martin has this right ... all marketing efforts above or below the line will have more traction when a social lens is applied.

  3. Jefferson Clay from 360 Recycling, April 7, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.

    Great points!! Being authentic is the key. having individuals in the social media network is value added. however,consumers still have to make a choice for their benefit. the only way to do this is having a burning desire or purpose to try something different.

  4. Lewis Goldman from New Media Consulting, LLC, April 8, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.

    Interest angle, especially the free sample when needed approach. I can see a lot of businesses getting trial by hitting the right moment to provide a free sample. Key is it needs be a business with recurring buying opportunities. You could do in the service sector as well (free ad, landing page, SEO audit, etc.). It's similar to the models for various freemium web services (Compete, Spyfu, LinkedIn, Google documents storage etc.). But you can only give away the initial sample and set make it easy for people to talk about how great your product/service is once. If they can keep coming back for free, they won't pay.

  5. Lewis Goldman from New Media Consulting, LLC, April 8, 2011 at 10:06 p.m.

    Great job Brian - great points.

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