Orr's April Column - Sampling's Power
By Alicia Orr Suman
Try it, you'll like it.
As the mother of a 5-week-old infant, I am a prime prospect for all kinds of offers—-from car seats and crib bedding (Pottery Barn Kids loves me) … to diapers and formula. With a newborn in the household, I've had no choice but to purchase many of these things. The question isn't will I buy, but what brands will I buy?
With this scenario in mind, maybe it's time for another look at sampling. Stan Rapp and Thomas Collins wrote in "The New MaxiMarketing":
"That old marketing standby, sampling, when done properly, can still be very effective. It's surprising companies don't use it more often."
To make the best use of sampling, Rapp and Collins continue, "you should either have a product advantage that can be demonstrated or be introducing a new product."
I'll add one more reason for using sampling: being first. And in this case, being first means something entirely different from encouraging trial of a new product on the market.
The Formula for Formula
A can of brand-name infant formula costs between $22 and $23. My little one goes through that can of powder in about a week. Translation: I'll have spent more than $1,100 on formula by the time my daughter reaches her first birthday.
So how did I decide which brand to use? Samples. The formula makers hit me with a sampling one-two-three punch. First, I had cans of the stuff sent to me via an elaborate direct mail program that also included high-value coupons (some as high as $8!). Second, free samples were offered at the obstetrician's and pediatrician's offices. Third, after delivery, the nurses in the hospital asked me, "Which do you plan to feed your baby, Similac or Enfamil?" They then provided me with bottles of the formula I selected, and that's what I fed my baby in the hospital.