With proper planning and preparation, product sampling campaigns are proven to be an effective way to introduce a new product to your target audience and get their feedback. What better way to nurture brand loyalty than to let people try it for the first time for free? Marketing with product sampling can also be used to re-introduce old products, maybe with a new twist, to encourage people to start using them.
Using a promotional vehicle at your event will give you a stunning centrepiece, both visually, and as a hub from which to hand out samples. But if you have never done this kind of activity before, you may be wondering how to do product sampling, and asking yourself these questions:
- Where do I start? Deciding your objectives and what you want to achieve from your sampling campaign is a great place to begin.
- Where can you do product sampling? There are so many possibilities, so let’s help narrow it down.
- How do I choose the right promotional vehicle? Many factors will influence your choice of vehicle, so we’ll be giving you some helpful guidelines.
- How do you staff a product sampling event? Your promotional team can make or break your sampling campaign, so it’s important to get it right.
- How can I get the most bang for my buck? We’ll tell you how you can get the most benefit from your sampling event and achieve your objectives.
By the end of this blog, you should have a much clearer idea of how to organise a sampling event using a promotional vehicle successfully.
1. Starting a sampling project? First, set out your objectives
You need to have a crystal-clear idea of what objectives you wish to achieve before you can go about planning your sampling campaign. Why will you be doing product sampling over other types of campaign? Who do you want to target? The answers to these questions depend on the following:
- Do you want to give away free samples of a new product being launched on to the market? Giving away free samples is a great way to get people excited about something new and generate a buzz. It is also a useful way to gauge feedback about the product in case it highlights any issues that can be addressed. Will your product be sampled at the event, so that you can record the feedback straight away, or will you be asking people to try out the samples at home? The disadvantage of the latter is that people may throw the sample away when they get home, or may not bother to send in feedback. Some products will have to be taken home to test, so think of an incentive to encourage people to try them out, maybe by offering an entry into a prize draw when they send in their feedback.
- Will you be demonstrating the product before offering free samples? If so, think about the practicalities – you will need the skills, equipment, ingredients (if the product is a food item) and the space to hold repeated demonstrations.
- Will you be targeting influencers? You may decide the best way to launch your product is to gift beautifully packaged samples of the product directly to influencers’ homes to create review-based video content that you can re-share online via their YouTube or social channels. Or you could hold a doorstep campaign, taking the product to the homes of people who have entered a draw on your website or social media channels. This is a good way to get your product into the hands of your target audiences.
Think through your objectives carefully and write them down, so you can set out a plan to achieve them.
2. Choose the right vehicle
Think about what sort of vehicle would best suit your campaign and how you can absolutely make the most of it while you have it.
- The visual impact is an important consideration for public locations where you are reliant on footfall, as well as doorstep campaigns to impress influencers. You need a vehicle that turns heads and draws people over to find out more.
- Will you need a large vehicle with a demonstration area, or would a smaller, vintage vehicle be a better fit for your brand?
- Will you need to transport all of your samples in the vehicle, or will they arrive separately? Depending on the type of product, you could take your samples to an event in a regular van, but disperse your promo team across a town or city using a fleet of branded vintage bicycles, with baskets full of free samples to give away.
- If you will be holding cookery demonstrations, your vehicle will need to be kitted out with a hob, washing up facilities, as well as a fridge/freezer. Alternatively, if you will be giving away non-perishable items, you will simply need plenty of storage space.
Read our blog, “Top vehicles for product sampling campaigns” for further helpful suggestions.
3. Train your promo team
1. Research your product. Find out everything you can about it – how and where it was made; the materials it is made from, or ingredients if it is a food or drink product; it's carbon footprint and whether or not it is recyclable; the Recommended Retail Price; how it works/is prepared etc. Create a fact sheet to form the basis of staff training so they are equipped to answer any questions that may be fired at them about the product.
2. Practice demonstrating the product. If a demonstration forms part of your product sampling campaign, make sure staff are trained. Don’t just wing it on the day and hope for the best, as this could lead to inconsistency between staff members and your key product features being missed. If staff are demonstrating a food product, make sure you have somewhere to dispose of the rubbish and have cleaning equipment to hand.
3. Know who to target. Make sure your team know who your target audience is, so you don’t waste valuable samples on people who are unlikely to have the need or desire for them. Hopefully, curiosity and the visual impact of your stunning promotional vehicle will draw people towards your pitch, otherwise try to catch their eye and politely invite them over. Depending on the type of venue, passers-by will usually be inclined to see what you are giving away.
- 4. Know what to say. Have a script ready with all of your key product talking points that your promotional staff have practised so they know what to say to people when offering them a free sample. Staff should be polite and friendly and make sure passers-by feel that their opinion is important if asking questions.
- 5. Remember to collect data. Using iPads is the easiest and most efficient way to collect feedback from the members of the public who sample the product. Ensure the devices are fully-charged and have one or two battery chargers with you in case you need them. You could also take along clipboards as a contingency in case of technical problems on the day, and the data can be uploaded afterwards. If your product sampler is in a hurry, you could ask them to complete the questionnaire online when they get home. However, you will need a really good incentive to encourage them to do this, such as an entry into a draw for an exciting prize. Remember to take plenty of pens to go with the clipboards.
If Covid safety precautions are still in place, encourage social distancing at your counter and sanitise the pens after each use. You could also provide a hand sanitising station as another safety measure.
4. Choose the right venue
When considering locations, your target audience will be the main decider of how to do product sampling with your promotional vehicle. Do you want to reach the general public as a whole, or certain sectors for example, vegans, parents of young children, the elderly or fitness enthusiasts? If so, think of the type of place you are likely to find a large concentration of your target audience, such as high streets and shopping centres for the general public, vegan festivals for the vegans, summer fairs and holiday resorts for young families, etc.
5. Think of the extras.
If you are using a static vehicle, do you need other supporting equipment to help you establish your presence? Will you need to take a portable counter to set up in front of your vehicle, that people can use to take samples from? If your campaign is outside, branded parasols or gazebos help provide shady spots under which you can set up tables and chairs if required. Visit the Raccoon Store for ideas of branded promotional items you could use to enhance your sampling activity.
For more helpful information, visit our blog "How branded vehicles can support product sampling campaigns".
6. Spread the word before, during and after the campaign:
- Before - put teasers out on social media during the build-up to your campaign, to get people excited about it and know where to find you.
- During – your promotional vehicle can double-up as a selfie-magnet to generate Instagrammable content that gets shared and re-shared on social media. A QR code in your vehicle wrap will take people to your website. Ask people to share their photos and reviews on social media to enter a competition! Take lots of photos and, with their permission, film people’s reactions when they try your free samples, for uploading to your website and social media channels later.
- After – go through and respond to any comments left on social media, thanking people for their views. Edit and upload the photos and video material you recorded at the event, with captions. Use every trick in the book to squeeze as much value as possible out of your product sampling event to reach a wider audience.
So there you have it: everything you need to know about how to do product sampling using a promotional vehicle. You campaign will be well worth the time and expense if you plan it properly, well in advance. Make sure you allow plenty of time to source the right venue and book a pitch and find the perfect vehicle. Remember you will need time to get the vehicle ready for your event, including transforming it with your brand colours and campaign messaging. If you're looking for more information about hiring a promotional vehicle and to see the fantastic choice of vehicles available, click here.
Thinking about using a promotional vehicle in your next product launch? Download our eBook for a complete guide to setting up your campaign.