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Eclectic Thought Samples From Larry Burns

Sampling Optimized – Context is Everything In a Sampling Society

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In the world of product sampling and marketing in general, we’re hearing more and more about using compelling visual content with fewer and fewer words. Visual content apparently allows marketers to more effectively reach consumers at both conscious and unconscious levels. The idea of visually compelling marketing really boils down to how you engage someone’s multiple senses through marketing. The visual taps the brain, whether it’s a fast car driving around hairpin turns, or a beautiful mountain stream and we can see that marketers use many kinds of subtle imagery in attempts to attract and woo customers.

While marketeers use visuals in all forms of marketing, product samples are the only strategic element that truly provides the full sensory experience to the consumer, whether it’s color, taste, sound, size or smell. The product sample doesn’t just provide sensory data; it’s gives them the full experience. That’s a unique and precious benefit sampling programs give to potential brand customers — a full experience of the product you’re attempting to persuade them to purchase.

But, there is more to it than just ‘sampling your product’. My personal bias is that customers need to experience the product (preferably without distractions) in the right context. “Marketing One to One” has been with us for a long time (Peppers and Rogers wrote the book in 1993!) and sampling has always played a role in any individual’s product experience . It means something – like shampoo should be experienced in your shower, food and cooking supplies should be tried in your kitchen and cleaning products should be tested on your own stains. The entire notion of exceptional content and visually compelling marketing is essentially attempting to give a person the opportunity to experience a product as fully as possible – so they perceive its value, understand its worth and make a conscious decision to buy it the next time they need it.

There are very few things in our marketing tools set that can give an individual the opportunity to really experience a product and its value. To me, a sample is the ultimate content you can give someone. When done right, done well and measured properly, product sampling does yield enormous returns for companies – even more so than advertising. We all know that nothing builds awareness like advertising, but sampling builds conviction – by actually providing the real product experience that quite often trumps anything advertising suggests. In fact, I’d theorize that “tryer-rejecters” exist mostly because the advertising is not paid off by the product (or increasingly service) delivery.

In this frantic world, where we’re being bombarded with advertisements and marketing, the rare chance to fully immerse in a product sampling experience in ones home, in a calm, inviting environment for marketing, holds tremendous persuasive power. These forms of sampling experiences lead to more genuine consideration which can ultimately result in customer purchase and strong ‘sharing’ behaviors. Positive first-hand experiences do generate classic word-of-mouth, individual to individual, conversations. We all recognize these genuine chats are continuing to grow in influence for we as humans; since so many of us are jaded by being ‘hip to the tricks’ of marketing.  In fact, that newer term “UMOT” Ultimate Moment of Truth (when a person chooses to share their own experience) is something that product sampling helps to fuel as people Pin, Post and otherwise use technlogy to share what they have discovered.

While increasing funding for effective product sampling continues to be an uphill battle in a “marketing mix modeling world” it’s really a no brainer.  Product sampling can be intensely targeted and allows potential customers to experience your product in a way that so many of the traditional levers in the marketing mix never will.  Our product sampling industry can prove these assertions, using all manner of new measurement techniques and tools, and we will continue helping brands grow the marketing of their brands to people… one by one.


Categorised as: Learning, Marketing, Sampling