A few years ago, we implemented an unpopular policy with our demo clients. We began requiring a minimum number of visits per store – 6 to be exact. This means if a client wanted to add a store to their store list, we required them to complete 6 demos at that store within the first 6 months. We got a lot of pushback, a LOT of pushback.
Our closing rate dropped significantly. But those that did sign on were happy with our services. They saw ROIs that justified continuing the demo programs. Those clients stayed with us for years, and we grew with them.
But after Covid, potential clients were even more hesitant to commit to the terms we had in place. With the start/stop nature of demo policies and the word “recession” worming its way into just about every conversation, brands couldn’t predict what the future of product sampling would be in a month from now, let alone a year. So, in June of 2023, we made a major change. We dropped our required minimums on demo programs. We felt we had to do this to adapt to the landscape.
But what we’ve learned…again…is repetitive demos are the most solid way to build a product sampling program. While it’s intuitive that a brand ambassador will improve in their role as they gain a deeper understanding of the product’s benefits and improve in their delivery of the brand messaging, brands don’t often think about the other benefits of an ongoing demo program.
Clients who execute repetitive demos see 360° benefits. They build a team of advocates, sometimes even a team of superfans, at the retailer, which affects their retail sales in several ways. Let’s walk through a few of these benefits:
- At your first demo, you may sell out because the department manager doesn’t feel comfortable ordering extra product. But if you sell out at your first, demo, they are much more likely to order up for your next.
- After a few demos, the department may give you an off shelf, which will help you sell more product even when you aren’t doing a product sampling.
- A cashier, after having tried your product, may confirm a consumer’s choice when they check out, adding to the consumer’s positive feelings about your brand.
- The corporate office sees a dedicated demo program as evidence you are willing to invest in your partnership and do your part to ensure your product meets the retailer’s velocity expectations.
We understand start up brands sometimes don’t have the budget to commit to a full 6 demos/store. And we love the innovation that comes from start-ups. For these brands, having a stellar product sampling is critical for distribution growth. So, we likely will keep our no minimum policy for at least the next few months. We want our services that focus on passion, customer service, and results to be available to brands who need it. But we will advise ongoing demo programs because the math says that’s what works. And we love math…and spreadsheets…and strong ROIs for our clients.
What type of product sampling program have you seen be the most effective for your brand?