Why You Should Give Your Product Away
Try it! You’ll like it!
That’s the premise behind promotional marketing. Companies deliver product samples, coupons, and contests to consumers where they live, work, play, shop, worship, and learn. Promotional marketing is a strategy designed to stimulate a customer to take action towards a buying decision and may provide direct incentive for prospects to visit or call you.
Companies offer free trials to a targeted market, giving a potential customer the opportunity to experience a product at little to no risk. Because these are given away in small quantities and offered for a short duration, the bet is that you’ll have a positive trial experience and start to make regular purchases. Point-of-purchase sampling is often used to kick off new product sales, and when presented to a targeted market, sampling tends to build relationships through a gesture of good will.
I’m loyal to Downy for no other reason than someone handing me a sample and a dispensing ball at a NASCAR driver’s open house. It never occurred to me to try fabric softener, but once I did, I was never again willing to endure a crunchy bath towel or do battle with a feisty cling-on.
Even though less than three percent of all coupons are redeemed, they are a highly effective means of driving sales and traffic because people love to save money. Companies, in turn, love that coupon-marketing results are easily measured. Coupons are most effective when focused on a single product or service. Consumers who visit your business with the express purpose of using the coupon generally end up spending more than they’d planned.
I received a buy-one-get-one coupon for Nothing Bundt Cakes at the start of the Christmas season. The bakery’s product wasn’t on my mind for gift giving, but once I sampled their cakes and viewed their beautiful gift packages, I was sold. Guess what my clients received for Christmas this year?
Running a contest is an innovative way of collecting new marketing data on existing (and potential) buyers or clients. The prize does not have to be one of grand proportions, but it should be of value to your target market. “Must be present to win!” creates incentive to attend an event. “No purchase required but you must connect with us to qualify” drives them to your door.
With their “Real Beauty” campaign, Dove offered a public service to women and young girls worldwide through workshops that helped build self-esteem. They hosted a contest soliciting views from women of all ages who celebrate their natural beauty. With their message, Dove welcomed women of all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and ages. This broadened their market, built their brand, and established an emotional relationship.
As you plan your promotional marketing campaign, be sure you carefully strategize incentives and objectives. Are you planning to collect names as leads? Who is the target of your campaign? What is the buying behavior of your existing customer? Do you intend to discount an item as a loss leader to gain a larger customer base? Do you want to reward returning customers or establish new relationships? What incentive works best for your customer group: sampling, coupons, or contests? What is your available budget to promote and execute the campaign? Can you manage the promotion in-house or will you require an outside firm? How will you measure the results?
Be sure you are in compliance with state and federal laws. For instance, when a “free” offer is tied to the purchase of another product, the price of the purchased product should not be increased from its regular price. In the United States, it is illegal to require participants to make a purchase to enter any contest or sweepstakes.
As the Saying Goes
You must give to receive.