I remember when we first got involved with this forum, there were a couple of
discussions about free samples and "try before you buy." There was a
guy who`d run a couple of companies, and had tried different methods of
promotions for each company. Of the various methods, sending out free
samples was the least effective in his own references.
I think the sample pack for food, perhaps in small portions works. The
cost might be lower than regular product, but when people pay money for
something it matters. I`m also thinking of the fabric sites we use,
where we really do need a sample---a "swatch." Most places will do
that, but a lot of them at least charge for the shipping. It`s not a
lot, but it makes us serious about the request.
Seems to me that if you have a brick-and-mortar store, where the
product lends itself to samples, like food, then fine. But online?
Enh....I don`t see the point. Instead, if an online company is getting
a lot of requests for samples, I`d suspect they`re not showing and/or
describing their product well enough.
I did a stretch of time in retail, selling consumer electronics for
Penney`s. I was amazed at the things I learned, including the many
tricks customers may sometimes try to get away with. Trying to get
"free stuff" is one of the classics.
Not so long ago, we had a query about retailing our flags in a store
near a beach. The owner suggested that perhaps we send them a sample
banner, spelling the name of the store. If they liked it, they`d want
to buy repeating quantities, taking orders there and having us drop
If I hadn`t worked retail, I`d have gotten a lot more excited about it
all. But the bottom line was that there were no promises at all, just a
speculative supposition. At the end of the day, the store would get a
free banner, and who knows if we`d get anything out of it.
Do we lose possible deals? Sure. But I also know that if there`s a
legitimate need for a sample, it`s pretty clear in the context of both
the company requesting that sample, and the request itself. So if the
White House asked for a sample, prior to their decorating the main
reception hall with signal flags, we`d probably consider it. :-)