Sampling, Freemiums and Marketing Lagniappe

We work a lot in the restaurant and hospitality and retail industry. And, I’m amazed at how many businesses lack a sampling or “Free” taste test component in their marketing operations plans.

In 2008, Arbitron  studied product sampling (Arbitron product_sampling_study_2008) and over one-third (35%) of those who tried a sample bought the product during the same shopping trip. And, nearly 60% said they would buy a product after trying it.

Sampling, which reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, “is both effective in making new customers aware of products, while also establishing a firmer identity with those consumers who have considered the product before,” said Carol Edwards, svp of sales at Arbitron’s out-of-home media department, in a statement.

The survey segmented consumers into three areas: acquisitions (those new to the product), conversions (those willing to buy it after sampling it) and retentions (those who had previously purchased the product).

Check out these sampling results:

  • 85% of retentions who sampled a product said they would purchase it again compared to 60% of conversions.
  • Almost half (47%) said they would now look to purchase it.
  • 28% of respondents received a free sample in the past three months. Of that group, 64% said they accepted the sample.
  • Nearly a quarter of those polled (24%) said they bought the product they sampled instead of the item they initially set out to purchase.

Freemiums are another terrific way to generate customer interest and involvement by offering a product or service for free (e.g., software, educational webinar etc.) while charging a premium for advanced or special feature.

For example, I offer free marketing advice through my Blog, however for more specialized marketing consulting advice I charge a fee. And, it helps drive leads.

Marketing Lagniappe occurs when a brand offers a customer something for free and unexpected when they buy something – surprise and delight occurs. Stan Phelps’ new book due this Spring (can’t wait to read it – nice helpful Web site too) will highlight 1,001 “something extras” such as Doubletree Hotels’ practice of giving warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Stan’s five R.U.L.E.S. for effective lagniappe are that these free offers need to be Relevant, Unexpected, Limited, Expression, Sticky.

I couldn’t agree more and plan to take a harder look at my client’s marketing plans and bake a little sampling, freemiums and/or lagniappe that surprises and delights into them. You should too.


Why Southwest Airlines Rocks

southwest_airlines_logoSometimes I think marketing is a pretty easy business. Do right by your customers and they’ll do right by you – follow the Golden Rule.

One company that makes a hard business look easy and that rocks my marketing world is Southwest Airlines. Since 1999, Southwest’s domestic market share has increased by 48%, while the five network carriers have seen their combined passenger base shrink 20%. This year, Southwest will fly about 28 million more people than it did in 1999, while its rivals will fly a total of 62 million fewer passengers!

Southwest is a leader – pure and simple. They’ve been zigging while the Big 5 have been sagging for years. They start by being friendly and have built their brand around LUV.

Southwest is gaining valuable market share, even as it reduces its overall flying, by exploiting a competitive weakness at other airlines. The universal competitive weakness among all of Southwest’s competitors is the perception that they are out to “nickel and dime” passengers with fees for services that were once part of the base airfare.

southwest airlines bags fly freeSouthwest’s ‘bags fly free’ marketing strategy is pure genius and is proving to be another major success for them. Check out this story from the Chicago Tribune, Southwest landing flyers with its ‘bags fly free’ strategy.

Do like it when companies ding you for every little thing?

Do you ding people with your pricing?

Recently, I flew Southwest to Florida for a little golf vacation with my brothers and even my golf bag was checked in for free. Plus, the smiling, friendly faces and natural customer rapport they provide was pervasive throughout my experience – from service counter to stewards to pilots. It was a great experience.

BP 1.00 airAnd, as I thought about this Blog post and my favorable Southwest customer experience of saving at least $100 with their ‘bags fly free‘ policy, I thought about my BP gas station experience earlier in the day. BP charged me $1.00 to put air in my tires (see copy in bottom right corner)! Make that two tires – my dollar didn’t last long enough to top off the air for all four tires.

So, here’s the $24,000 question.

Do you ever hear of anyone raving about their recent experience at a BP gas station?

Didn’t think so!

P.S.: Check out how well Southwest’s stock price has outperformed BP’s stock price over the last 10 years! It’s obvious Southwest is a marketing rock star!


Do Better in Google with WordPress

wordpress_logo_buttonThroughout the year, I’ve been using WordPress more and more to build a variety of Web sites and have been super impressed with it.

Not only is WordPress easy to use for non-programmers, but it is so search engine friendly that my clients have easily realized double and triple digit increases in Web traffic.

I’m always on the lookout for new Web technologies and in the world of Content Management Systems, I just researched WordPress a bit more to see if it was too good to be true because there are so many out there (see list here).

My concerns were put to rest after I caught this video of Matt Cutts who works for the Search Quality group in Google, specializing in search engine optimization issues.

“Straight From Google: What You Need To Know”
WordCamp San Francisco – May 30, 2009, by Matt Cutts

In this video (see about 3:10 minutes in), Matt states that if you want to do better in Google, “WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues.” and that it is such a fantastic piece of software that, “WordPress takes care of 80-90% of your Search Engine Optimization mechanics.”

Matt’s word is good enough for me and I encourage you to watch this video for additional SEO tips. I’ve been a big Google fan since its birth and it’s quality people like Matt Cutts that keep me loyal.

Check out Matt Cutts’ Gadgets, Google, and SEO Blog too – good stuff.


Give Away Your Good Stuff

For a long time, I worked and played from the point of view that to get ahead in anything in life, you have to beat someone else at the game. And, while I achieved a lot of success with that strategy it became tiring and left me unfulfilled.

However, over the past 25+ years I've been working professionally and studying various business and marketing masters, I've come to realize that giving away some of my valuable ideas to empower those around me has improved my outlook on life, expanded and enhanced my relationships and has improved my economic state of affairs.

As a marketing consultant, it took me a while to figure this out and I owe many thanks to the help I received from various online mentors such as Tom Peters and Seth Godin and many more.

For example, A free seminar  (which took me 41 hours to create and 2 hours to give) I gave to a local university here in Pittsburgh years ago is still paying dividends in terms networking, referrals and related income.

A free web site, Blog and email marketing system I created for an Irish fraternal organization a few years ago has again increased my network of good friends and associates and delivered directly and indirectly nearly six figures in income. Plus, it helped me improve my team's and my skill set and satisfied several personal goals of paying things forward. 

Giving away my good stuff has:

  • enabled me to expand my reach of people, places, industries and influence
  • helped me to keep a viral floe of good karma going at a good rate of speed
  • quickly proved to my prospects and clients that I can deliver on my promises and more

Please understand that from time to time I do hesitate to give away my good stuff, because I make a living by selling ideas and the selfish side of me worries about someone not paying me or stealing my ideas.

Make giving away your good stuff one of your own personal marketing strategies and then sit back and watch how you and your business will grow.


How to Save $3 Million Dollars

NBC is telling
advertisers it will cost them $3 million just to get into the game — for 30

Tell them thanks, but no thanks!

Individual slots have sold at $3 million before, it’s
never been the starting point for negotiations.

Anheuser-Busch, has already locked in a rate of about $2 million for
each of its spots and often buys about 10 ads every Super Bowl and purchases ad time
months and years in advance.

And they were just sold to…???

OK, for you SMEs out there, this applies to you too. I’m sure there have been a few "Super Bowls" you’ve bought media in as well.

Well, stop it and simply enjoy the game with your family and friends.

Prove to me where one brand has lifted their sales and/or market share to great heights as a result of buying a spot on the Super Bowl in the last 10-20 years.

Save your time, because you can’t.


Top Productivity Blogs

I broke my ankle in early March – never knew I had so many stairs to walk up to my office – and have been playing a lot of catch-up since – ugh! 

Hope these "Productivity Blogs" help you, like they helped me. So many good ones – they’re not all about work – enjoy! I hope they make your life and business more productive, fun, meaningful and enjoyable.

Many thanks to Evan Carmichael for the information. Good stuff.