In our post-pandemic world, people are craving live person-to-person interaction more than ever. This consumer trend opens the door for brand marketing plans to include sampling programs and other live activations in a much bigger way. Here are tips on how to launch a successful sampling program in an ever-changing landscape.
Know your goals. For any consumer engagement program, it’s crucial to outline your goals before you begin planning or execution. This will determine what type of sampling program is needed to accomplish the goals (for example, high touch, high volume, awareness building).
Consider budget and lead time. The second step would be to appropriately plan and budget for this type of activity, ideally six months in advance. If either is not done properly, the outcome of these programs can fall short. Understand that variables like number of markets, program duration and activation type all play an integral part in allocating funds.
Keep the creative hook simple and fun. Developing a creative consumer engagement hook is key to adding a value layer to any sampling activation. Creative engagement should be straightforward, intriguing, and scalable.
An attempt to do too much creatively can overcomplicate the experience and lead to a lackluster result. Simple yet clever ideas that are easily received by consumers and executed in a turnkey fashion are the best-in-class approach. If the engagement is memorable and repeatable, more consumers will experience and remember it. Thus, more people will become loyalists and spread their positive sentiment through social and other word-of-mouth platforms.
Engage the right staff. Anyone in the experiential marketing field knows that you are who represents your programs in the field. Market managers and brand ambassadors are key to expertly engaging with consumers in various settings. Recruiting and securing top talent is hugely important, in addition to ensuring teams are from diverse backgrounds with relevant experience in the category.
Do sweat the small stuff. Details and logistics can make or break a sampling activation and should not be overlooked, most importantly COVID-19 and other health safety protocols. Thinking through the logistics of getting product or distributing kits to staff, or even renting vehicles to transport program assets. should be done early. These details can help drive cost efficiencies and maximize consumer-facing engagements in market if done right.
Once you’ve executed on these tips, make sure you’re setting KPIs and expectations, and have a plan in place to track programs consistently.
Giving each of these tips equal mindshare will help drive consumer purchase intent by effectively establishing an emotional connection between brands and their targets.