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brand ambassador safely sampling FMCG food products at a tradeshow event in Los Angeles
FMCG sampling activation at a tradeshow in Las Vegas

You have created a product, and it is great. People are giving you positive feedback. They are loving it. Now, the success of your commercial venture depends upon enough people experiencing it. How do you achieve this goal? One great way is by sampling your product. Successful product sampling is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate low-cost/ high visibility marketing value for your brand. This is a simple and powerful way to create brand awareness. The problem is, as with many simple things, it is more difficult than you might think.

Following are six key considerations when planning your next product sampling activation.

1. Right Time, Right Place, Right Agency

Possibly, the most important aspect of a successful sampling effort is the strategy behind when and where you hand out your products. If you are a sunscreen brand, you will want to take advantage of a sunny day when people are likely to need your product. Not only will they be in the right frame of mind to learn about your product, but your product could actually save them from a sun burn. If you are sampling a new CBD infused coffee drink, the same sunny day will not work as well, unless you offer iced coffee. You have to find the right conditions where your product will be useful and where it will be well received. You need to know your target demographic and how to access them. Marketing agencies are great for networking your product into the perfect location. They keep tabs on interesting events and have built partnerships with event management. These relationships help add value to your sampling through obtaining premium locations, occasional discounts, free event upgrades, and extended sampling radius for your product. Having an agency with the right network and strategy provides the baseline to activate a successful sampling.

2. Right Ambassador for your Brand:

It is undeniable that the person who hands you the product is going to influence your feelings about the brand before you even try the product. You may want to hire friendly and outgoing brand ambassadors, as that is often a winning combination, but there are more factors to consider. Not all brand ambassadors are talented samplers. It takes high energy, quick movement, dedication to quality work, drive and endurance to reach your sampling goals. Does your brand require education to be shared with guests as they sample? Sampling can be more challenging than other brand ambassador work because they have to interact in a friendly and educational way with an often unpredictable public and environment. Finding the right brand ambassadors with the stamina and skills to execute your sampling effectively is not an easy task.

Find an agency with a large database of brand ambassadors that is up to date. Ask how the agency sources the best talent. Don’t be afraid to ask to see brand ambassadors’ profiles during the hiring process. For high profile events, you might even ask to talk to brand ambassadors directly before approving the staff. Find out how the agency handles no shows or underperforming staff. Research whether the brand ambassadors are true advocates of your brand. While staffing is something every agency should have perfected in 2019, some agencies can lose focus on this key component.

3. Educate and Entertain:

To create a meaningful engagement with the public, you need your people to be both fun and informed. What kind of games can you create in order to make receiving the sample more fun? Some simple but fun games can help you to collect data and follow up with your guests to further amplify the reach of the activation. Providing a game to play helps them to remember your brand beyond the experience of sampling. Gamification can help guests retain knowledge about your product, draw a crowd, provide reach beyond the event, expand your reach, and create excitement through engagement. This may be especially helpful with Generation Z, as they are interested in what Jeff Fromm calls Storyliving. Creating hashtag contests, photo booth/photo opportunities, and sweepstakes and will also incentivize your email collecting.

4. All Sampling is Not Equal:

Depending on your product, sampling might be more or less complicated. Recently, the brand Skintimate offered a pop-up shave bar where women could enjoy a cocktail, listen to music and have their legs shaved. This level of engagement created a lot of brand awareness, as the women who attended left with a lot more than a sample razor or shaving gel. They left with a positive experience. To pull this kind of intimate engagement off is much more difficult and costly. Remember, this will increase the cost per sample, but will drive the amplification of your brand through social channels. This may also increase your sampling potential by attracting additional traffic to your experience. While gamification and elevated sampling activations may slow down the number of samples that can be distributed onsite, it can increase the likelihood to purchase and to remain a loyal customer. It also provides more amplification through social channels after the activation.

5. Handle the Logistics:

However simple your sampling might be, there are always going to be logistical considerations. Will you need refrigeration? Will your people be in uniform? Who will be managing them to ensure they stay on task? Where will samples be stored? How will samples get to the sampling site? What permits or licenses are needed for this sampling? What are the access fees for each particular event? What type of environment do you want? Will you need a photographer or a videographer to create content for live social shares and for future digital marketing efforts? How fast should you be handing out samples? In order to have a successful sampling event, you are going to have to figure out the boots on the ground practical necessities and have ample solutions to any potential problems.

6. Mitigating Risk with Insurance:

Never forget that unexpected things are likely to happen at any event, especially if there is alcohol involved. Even with the best of intentions,things can still go sideways. This is why you will want to make sure to insure yourself for the event. This includes workers compensation to cover the people who will be face to face with an unpredictable public. Choosing the right agency with the proper insurance is vital to protect your brand from later legal issues. Make sure insurance is always included in any budget you sign on behalf of your brand/company.

You care deeply about your business and your hard work shows in the product that you present to the public. You should find an agency that uses the same level of care when sampling your product at an event. Lastly, find a way to add measurement to your sampling. Anything from coupons, data collection, booth traffic measurement, onsite sales, or sales lift can be a way to measure the success of your sampling.

Picking the right agency to help you execute your sampling should alleviate the stress of most of these factors/elements. While sampling seems simple, don’t leave the success of your product sampling to just any agency. There are specific skills, talents, and capabilities needed to execute a product sampling correctly. You need an agency with experience in sampling to reach your marketing goals.

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