Give It Away! The Magic of Free Samples.

Try before you buyOne of the most successful marketing companies in the world is Proctor & Gamble. We’ve all used their products many times, often several in the same day! We get up in the morning and brush our teeth with Crest toothpaste, shower with Pantene shampoo, shave with a Gillette razor. Then toss a Bounce sheet in the dryer, add Cheer or Tide to the washer, feed the dog Iams or Eukanuba kibbles before leaving for work. When stress on the job upsets your stomach, we take Pepto-Bismol or Prilosec OTC.

Last year, Proctor & Gamble sold over 80 billion dollars worth of personal care, home care and pet products, and they use free samples to introduce their products to new consumers. They know that if a product is good, a free sample is the best way to convey that to prospective users. Proctor & Gamble spends a fortune giving away free samples. Why? Because it works – part of the reason most of their products are best-sellers in their categories.

Giving away free samples works for Proctor & Gamble and it can work for you too, whether you grow specialty crops or make value-added products from your crops. When you give samples away, consider it a marketing expense that is proven to produce future sales.

Consider downsizing your product when giving away samples. Proctor & Gamble does it with tiny tubes of toothpaste and lotion, or mini-packets of laundry detergent. You can do the same. One of the most successful vendors at our local Saturday market bakes two sizes of cookies – a tiny sample size and a large for-sale size. Another uses a mini-clamshell to give away free samples of her micro greens, holding just 1 ounce, and sells the product in 4 and 8 ounce clamshells.

Another grower started doing product demos of his oyster mushrooms every Friday afternoon ( a busy shopping day) at the local grocery store, sautéing them in butter with a hint of garlic, and handing the samples out to passing shoppers. In just three months of Friday demos, his in-store sales tripled!

One flower grower has a sign at her farmer’s market booth offering a free flower to anyone born in that month. Her sales are up substantially from that simple freebie. Why? Because it’s human nature to be more inclined to buy if you feel an “obligation” to someone – such as a flower vendor who just gave you a free flower.

If you produce a high-quality product, offering a free sample to prospects is just about the most cost-effective way to prove it. If it’s good enough for Proctor & Gamble, it’s good enough for you too!