You have created a product, and it is incredible. People are giving you positive feedback. They love 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 experiential marketing, specifically product sampling. Successful product sampling is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate low-cost/high-visibility marketing value for your brand’s product. Additionally, product sampling is a simple and powerful way to create brand awareness. However, as with many simple things, it is more complicated than you might think.
Here are six key considerations when planning your next product sampling activation.
1. Right Time, Right Place, Right Experiential Marketing Agency
Possibly, the most critical aspect of a successful product 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 need your product. Not only will they be in the right frame of mind to learn about your product, but your product could save them from sunburn. If you are sampling a new coffee drink, consider a morning activation over an evening product sampling. With this in mind, find the event marketing conditions where your product will be useful and well received.
Experiential marketing agencies are great for networking your product into the perfect location. They keep tabs on trending experiential strategies and have built partnerships with event management. These relationships add value to your sampling. Ultimately providing access to premium locations, discounts, event upgrades, and an extended sampling radius for your product. An event activation agency with the right network and marketing strategy provides the baseline for successful sampling.
Know your target demographic and use a brand activation agency that knows how to access them.
2. Right Brand Ambassador for your Brand Awareness Campaign
Undeniably, the person who hands you the free product sample will influence your feelings about the brand before you even try the sample. You’ll want to hire friendly and outgoing brand ambassadors, which is often a winning combination, but more factors must be considered. Not all brand ambassadors are talented samplers. Finding the right brand ambassadors with the stamina and skills to execute your sampling effectively is challenging. It takes high energy, quick movement, dedication to quality work, drive, and endurance to reach your sampling goals. Is your product new to the marketing? Does your brand require education to be shared with guests as they sample?
Product sampling marketing 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.
Find an experiential marketing agency with an extensive database of brand ambassadors that is up to date. Ask how the agency sources the best field staff. Don’t be afraid to ask for event staff’s profiles during the event planning process. For high-profile events, you might even ask to talk to brand ambassadors directly before approving the event staff. Find out how the agency handles no-shows or underperforming staff. Research whether the brand ambassadors are true advocates of your brand. While every agency should have perfected staffing in 2022, some experiential marketing agencies lose focus on this key event marketing service.
3. Experiential Marketing that Educates and Entertains
You need your people to be fun and informed to create a meaningful brand engagement with the public. What kind of games can you create 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 amplify the reach of the experiential activation further. Providing a game to play helps them to remember your brand beyond the experience of free product sampling.
Gamification marketing 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 will also incentivize your email collecting.
4. All Successful Product 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. The women who attended the event activation were left with more than a free sample razor or shaving gel; they left with a memorable product experience.
To activate this kind of engagement is complex and costly. Clearly, this will increase the cost per sample. However, it will drive the marketing amplification of your brand through social channels and word of mouth. Wisely, adding experiential marketing to your product sampling will attract additional traffic to your brand activation. While gamification and elevated sampling activations may slow down the onsite sample distribution, these marketing strategies increase the likelihood of purchasing and creating loyal customers. Moreover, consider the additional social media amplification.
5. Handling Product Sampling Logistics
Still, there will always be logistical considerations. What type of environment do you want? Will you need refrigeration? Who will be managing them to ensure they stay on task? Where will samples be stored? How will samples get on-site? What permits are needed for this product sampling? Will you need a photographer or a videographer to create content for social shares or future digital marketing? What are the access fees for each particular event? In order to have a successful sampling event, you will need answers to a checklist of event questions. Additionally, you’ll need an experiential agency that has solutions to any potential problems.
6. Mitigating Product Sampling Experiential Marketing 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 insure yourself for the event. Worker’s compensation insurance covers the people who will be face-to-face with an unpredictable public. Additionally, choosing the right agency with the proper event 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 company.
You care deeply about your business, and your hard work shows in the product you present to the public. You should find an event agency that uses the same level of care when sampling your product. Lastly, find a way to add measurement to your product sampling experience. 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 a top experiential marketing agency to help you execute your sampling should alleviate the stress of most of these factors/elements. While sampling seems easy, don’t leave the success of your product sampling to just any agency. Specific skills, talents, and capabilities are needed to execute a product sampling correctly. To sum it up, you need an agency with experience in sampling to reach your marketing goals.
Finally, check out 11 Best Experiential Marketing Agencies in the US & UK in 2023 or our UpCity profile to learn more about our award-winning experiential agency.