Recently, at a local market I had the pleasure of working beside a food vendor. As folks strolled by she would easily draw them in with her question, “Can I interest you in a sample?” Once the product was sampled the sale was not far behind and I marvelled at her brisk business.
In the soap business offering samples comes with its own mixed reviews. Podcasters, bloggers and handmade soap sellers everywhere have their own unique opinion. Here is mine and a few pros and cons to consider.
Early on in the business I gave out a lot of samples and in retrospect I can report that very few of these offerings resulted in a sale. To save myself from feeling cheated by the sample promotions, I wondered… are there benefits to samples beyond the sale? After some reflection on this I concluded yes, there are! Although samples don’t usually lead to a sale they do help to promote my brand awareness and get my business card into the pockets of potential customers. When handing out samples I also feel a definite appreciation from those on the receiving end and think that if nothing else, the sample represents generosity on the part of my business and confidence in my product. On occasion, a sample sways an undecided buyer, if they are having difficulty with a decision I can use the sample as a bonus, “if you decide to buy the Citrus Linen I will give you a sample of the other fragrance you are interested in.”
Likely, the best use of my samples comes with handing them out to existing customers to tempt them to try new fragrances or ingredients.
The list of cons equally balances out the pros hence, the debate on samples from soapers!
Samples come with a cost. The small soaps that I offer for free are products that will not help my bottom line. Also, samples require their own packaging which can be time consuming and an additional cost. I make small envelopes for my samples that actually take much longer than labeling my regular soap but they look pretty and again, promote my brand (see photo). Logistically, handing out samples at a market is a challenge as folks have to go elsewhere to try it out and at that point, the selling opportunity is lost. Finally, many soap sellers are of the opinion that samples actually discourage buyers and, in some instances, I agree, unlike offering food samples that market goers can test out on the spot, soap customers who can get a free sample maybe unlikely to purchase the full product.
How to bridge the sample gap? I endeavour to get something tangible in return for a sample that is not connected to a sale. If people are quick with their phones and will like my FB page or share a photo that I have posted of the event them I am happy with the result. I have been known to exchange business cards for samples or e-mail addresses. It doesn’t get me a sale but it does create a positive connection between myself and my customers and for me, that is what this business is all about. – C –