Want to get people to sit up and take notice? Give ‘em something for free! Everyone loves to get a freebie, and no-risk “samples” of your product or expertise are a good way to introduce yourself to potential customers.
Sampling seems obvious if you’re Mrs. Fields–you give everyone who walks by a free cookie. Once they’ve had a taste, they’ll be back to buy more. But what about situations where your product is too expensive to give away, or when what you sell is an intangible service?
Look for a way to let potential customers sample the experience. Give them a feel for what they will get when they buy from you.
One of my favorite sampling stories comes from a mattress retailer. They offered to place a brand new mattress in the customer’s home for 30 days. At the end of the sampling period, they would pay for the mattress, or the store would come and pick it up. How many people do you think were willing to go back to sleeping on their lumpy, saggy old mattress after spending 30 days (and nights!) on a brand new one? Not very many!
If you offer a service, give a sample of your knowledge. Present a free seminar, make a speech, give away a booklet or CD, do a free consultation, etc. For example, a decorator could give a free design consultation. Or a dog trainer could give a class at a pet store demonstrating a training technique, perhaps teaching one command or trick that can be quickly learned by most dogs. Give enough information to help potential customers see what can be achieved and demonstrate that you know your stuff, but not so much that they believe they can do it on their own and they don’t need you.
A good guideline to keep in mind is to give away the what or the why and sell the how.
Make sure your samples are targeted to reach potential customers. There are people who will take anything, as long as it is free, and you do not want to waste time and money marketing to people who have no chance of becoming customers. Promote your offer using methods that are targeted to reach your preferred audience.