Agency Angle: Free Samples or Coupons – What Brings You Back for More?

March 1, 2013

It’s no great news that customer loyalty needs to be carefully cultivated after the closing sale. Customers must see value in every aspect of your brand, from service to presentation to price – far beyond your product itself. On the other hand, once customers are completely satisfied with your product, what motivates them to try another?

Free samples, trials, and demos

The most direct way to pique customers’ interest in a product or service is to let them try it. We’re much more likely to take home a cheesecake if we’ve tasted a tidbit, or to invest in an online genealogy membership if we’ve had a chance to play around with site. And let’s face it: it’s fun to try new things for free!

  • Samples and trials are a great way to alert customers to new products, or to upsell by introducing products similar to the ones customers currently use.
  • Trying products out allows customers to experience the benefits of your business firsthand, without any obligation. Customers know ahead of time exactly what they’ll get, which helps build knowledge, trust, and confidence in your brand.
  • Sampling keeps customers engaged. Changeable products (for example, cosmetics or tea flavors) maintain the promise of variety and novelty. More static products, like pocket calendars or online software, offer practical value that customers can repeatedly use.
  • When part of a rewards program, samples and trials also build incentive for loyalty.
  • A free sample or trial keeps your business in customer’s minds, especially if those customers can make use of the trial material more than once.
  • Samples are good publicity for your brand. Customers will tell other people about products they like, and may share, trade, or even give samples as gifts.
  • Trials and samples a good way to get customer feedback and make a better product.

Coupons and cash rewards

Persuading the customer to seek out your product can be a little trickier than sending it to them. On the other hand, by focusing on motivation rather than immediate need, coupons and rewards offer more flexibility and less expectation.

  • Rewards are a fantastic way to show recognition and appreciation of customer loyalty.
  • Coupons and cash can provide incentive. They encourage existing customers to come back for repeat business, and entice new prospects to visit your store or check out your website.
  • They can also provide inspiration for gifts. Even if customers wouldn’t normally use a coupon or try to earn cash for themselves, they’re more likely to take advantage of these incentives when shopping for other people, especially during the busy holiday season.
  • Rewards and coupons a good way to track customer behavior, wants, and needs.
  • Open-ended coupons allow the buyer to make customizable choices. For instance, a coupon for 30% off any one item and a cash reward of $5 for every $25 spent in-store can both apply to various price ranges and product types, depending on customer preferences.
  • Specific coupons create customer incentive to explore new products. An offer for 25% off or Buy 1, Get 1 Free on a specific item may tempt buyers to try that item, which they might otherwise pass over.
  • Opt-in rewards – i.e., for customers who have voluntarily subscribed to receive them – help ensure that promotions stay relevant. Buyers are more likely to use coupons or cash on your product or service if they’re already interested in your business.

Whether you prefer to share your product with customers directly or send them incentive to come see for themselves – or a combination of both – the key is to provide value in all your exchanges.

If you’d like to learn how to pump up next your promotional campaign, contact us! Our marketers can help you develop a strategy for the greatest impact and ROI.  Best of all, your first consult is free!

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