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Promotional product trials - an alternative to traditional mass-marketing?

These trials are increasing in popularity with businesses, and customers love them but how effective are they in comparison to more traditional methods? Certainly, it seems attractive as an alternative to mail outs, press campaigns, investing in radio or television slots or producing thousands of flyers. Promotional product trial can be cheaper and can really pinpoint a target audience.

Perhaps it is best to not replace the traditional methods but enhance them. After all the trial products need to get to customers to enable them to try them so traditional methods are great for this. For example, shampoo sachets in magazines, free trial vouchers in flyers, newspaper and other print media, and mailshots. You can use the internet at sites like and to get sample and trial products out there.

Here are some other ways to do this:
  • Free tastings in supermarkets or where your products are sold.
  • Buy a product and get a trail size of something else for free
  • Refer a friend for a free trial
  • Network with other businesses in your target market e.g. get them to hand out something of yours that relates to their product, like free massage oil at the day spa.
  • Make up packs of trial size products for donations to charities or prize donations for community raffles etc.
The biggest challenge is integrating your product in to the lives of the consumer. In other words, how do you make it a natural part of their routine, or get it on their list of wants or needs? Use your product trial to demonstrate how your product can serve them. Canon offers a free service online, anyone considering which printer to buy can upload a digital image which is printed on the machine in question, in-store, and mailed out to the potential customer to check for quality. Firsthand experience is a good, solid way to get people to buy.

Innovative and popular campaigns in networking can and do exist. Take the Trojan 'Safe Ride Home' campaign for example. Taxi drivers handed out condoms to couples heading home from their night out. So popular it's being considered for extension across the UK and holiday makers may be the next target. British Airways are already doing this, fly first class with them and get a goodie bag, or spa experience at the airport, using Molten Brown products.

So providing a product at the time of a perceived need for the customer can boost your business products and sales. Trying out a product is the very best way to see if it fits with personal tastes, lifestyle, and attitudes.
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