When you’re trying to build up your business, free sampling can be a powerful tool in incentivizing potential customers to try your product.
For a relatively small outlay — such as a free pizza, or just free slices - you can reap the rewards of new customers that can translate into repeat business. It’s also a great way to take customers away from the competition - along with matching their prices and promotional incentives, you can offer something they don’t when you give people the chance to sample your product for free.
Market research shows that sampling campaigns tend to initially drive a short-term sales spike, but the point is, you can use that opportunity to build customer loyalty over the longer term.
So why does product sampling work? There are sound psychological principles at play here, one of which is the concept known as reciprocity. That simply means if you do something for someone - like give them something for free - they are likely to feel a sense of obligation to do something in return.
Food sampling also works by stimulating desire. A taste of a small amount of pizza can remind potential customers how much they enjoy eating it, and create a craving for more.
Another benefit is the fact that free samples really don’t cost you very much - you already have all the ingredients to make the food, so the cost of an occasional freebie is negligible, certainly much cheaper than many other forms of promotion and advertising.
Perhaps most importantly, offering a free sample is a great way to actually bring people into your place of business. They have to come in for their sample, so they get to experience the decor, the ambience, the warm friendliness of your staff’s service and rapport they have with regular customers, plus of course the aroma and presentation of your food. It also gives them a chance to check out the menu, specials board and so on. In short, it’s a fantastic opportunity to make a good impression - to showcase your pizza business and convince the potential customer it would be a great place at which to order a meal, whether dine-in or takeaway.
So once you’ve decided you’re going to offer free samples, the next step is to work out how to promote them to potential customers. There are plenty of methods, starting with the simplest one of placing in-store and external posters advertising the offer and encouraging your regular customers to tell their friends about it. You can also use the traditional printed flyer which you can drop in neighborhood mailboxes or distribute via other (non-competing) local businesses. This would typically contain a coupon to redeem for a free sample.
You can also do a google search to find restaurant review/promotion websites covering your local area, as many of these will list discount coupons or free offers. Another way to promote free samples is via your business’ Facebook page, and this is a good idea as incentives have been shown to work particularly well on social media. Not only do they drive potential customers to your doors, they also increase brand awareness and customer loyalty towards your business.
Promoting your free sample offers on social media also generates valuable free publicity. For example, you can offer a free sample product to people who post a photograph on Facebook of themselves outside your business, or holding up one of your menus or flyers - this will increase the likelihood that their friends will see the photo, and your business name, on their Facebook news feed. With people increasingly using social media to recommend food businesses by posting reviews, photos of meals and other recommendations online, using incentives in this way presents a great opportunity to expand your online reach.
Used cleverly, free sampling can expand your customer base and even consolidate brand loyalty among your existing customers, especially if new customers are brought to your business via their recommendation. The simple giveaway of a sample can be the basis of extremely effective advertising and marketing strategies at minimal cost and boasting a strong return on investment.