Most people like free stuff and college students are no different. In fact, 84% of college students say they are more likely to purchase a product after receiving a free sample or trial.* This eye-opening stat solidifies sampling as a must-have initiative, but unless your sampling program includes these powerful components, you won’t get the results that you want.
1) REACH THE RIGHT (AND PRECISE) TARGET.
It’s essential that you narrow in on your college target. Males or females? Upper classmen, freshmen, or graduate students? Public, private, or community college students? Art majors, nursing, or engineering students? Schools on the West Coast or in the Northeast? You get the idea. Without this kind of specificity, your samples (or trial offer) will end up in the wrong hands.
2) COMBINE SAMPLES + THE RIGHT MESSAGE + RESEARCH FOR A WINNING COMBINATION.
Sampling on its own will only get you so far. Best results come from a complete program. Share your messages before, during, and after a sampling program. Think about where your target students would be most receptive to your message: on campus signage, in emails or texts, or through social media? Then get the most mileage out of your sampling program with follow-up research. Get student insights – via live interviews or an online quant survey. Ask about product packaging, taste ingredients, or their intent to purchase your product.
Check out the success behind Kind Bar’s Free Samples
3) INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION.
Simple things like a promo code, money-saving coupon, or a how-did-you-like-our-sample text can spur action and transform student samplers to student buyers. It makes sense intuitively and the numbers support this strategy: 78% of students are motivated to buy after receiving a special offer or discount.*
4) DETERMINE YOUR DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY.
Think about how your sample will be distributed and what would work best for your target student. Will hand-to-hand samples given out by peer students get the most attention? Or, would your product be better included in order fulfillment boxes? The answer may differ whether you have a snack food product, a nutrition supplement, or a personal care item.
5) SAMPLE OFTEN AND AT THE RIGHT TIME.
Sure, a one-time program is great, but frequency is even better. It’s smart to share samples with students year round rather than during Back-to-School when they are in overdrive. After the school year routine sets in, students may be apt to pay more attention to certain messages and samples. You may also want to target students during special events, holidays, or key college milestones such as freshmen orientation, graduation, career workshops, or finals.
Barnes & Noble makes it easy and efficient to distribute samples to college students. Turnkey programs with speedy turnaround can get your sampling program in motion this fall. Sampling opportunities are available year round as well. VIP NIGHTS target new students; DE-STRESS FESTS bring a little fun and relaxation during finals; GRAD NATION encompasses an entire series of events to help prepare graduating seniors for the path ahead; and CAREER NOW workshops share resume-building and internship/job-search strategies with students.
Footnote: *Barnes & Noble College Marketing Report; Spring 2012