This is a guest post from our friend Stephen Key of an article that appeared in Inc. Magazine on May 5, 2020.
Keep in mind that "seeeding" your product via a Samplemax Onsert card to a target demographic or geography could be just the thing to spread the word about your NEW product!
Getting publicity is one way of creating more revenue from your product.
A great public relations campaign can have a long-lasting impact on your brand's reputation and public image. It will also help you sell more product. So, whether you're licensing or venturing, learning how to get media attention is something every inventor should do.
There are many ways of getting publicity for your product. Today, one of the most effective is by going the distance to literally place it into the hands of media and influencers. This strategy is sometimes referred to as "product seeding," and it works.
I've personally used product seeding to help me get national publicity for my inventions. For example, when I was running Hot Picks, a company that produced novelty guitar picks in the early 2000s, I used product seeding to get myself booked on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In the letter I mailed the show's producers, I included a handful of picks, knowing they would spill out and leave a lasting impression. I also used product seeding to get written up in music magazines like Guitar World and Revolver.
This strategy isn't new, so why is it particularly effective right now? Because we're all so inundated with digital content -- whereas nothing compares to actually holding something in your hand, where you can touch, feel, see, and use it. That interaction is much more likely to pique someone's curiosity.
More recently, I've been on the receiving end of successful product seeding campaigns because I interview inventors on my YouTube channel. For example, the other week I received a package from Anaheim, California-based puzzle company MicroPuzzles: a 150-piece mini puzzle packed in a test tube, along with a thank-you note. The package was custom-printed with my name on it and the product inside was nestled among eye-catching tissue paper. I was instantly enamored, and I wouldn't have felt the same way if I had just gotten an email.
The most effective product seeding strategies are highly targeted yet subtle. When you begin making your hit list, focus on people whose audience can benefit from your product. Bigger isn't necessarily better.
1. Be intriguing.
You need people to open your initial message for this strategy to work. (Mailing someone your product without touching base first is just spam.) So, don't overlook the importance of your subject line. For MicroPuzzles, the line that worked on LinkedIn was, "Here's a puzzle I bet you've never seen before." That's fun.
2. Keep your request short and simple.
All you are doing is asking this person for permission to send them something. That's it. Don't sell. Focus on making it easy for them to say yes quickly.
3. Personalize each package you send.
To the extent that you can, make the recipient feel special. This can be accomplished by a few genuine words of appreciation. Don't ask for anything in return, and don't make any demands. Above all else, be sincere in your approach.
4. Convey a sense of urgency.
Attention is fleeting; the media moves fast. When you begin seeding your product out, make sure you are able and ready to respond to the responses you receive quickly -- like within 60 minutes. If you're too slow, they'll move on.
Personally, hiring a publicist was never in the cards for me because they're expensive and there's no guarantee they'll be successful. So, if it's not in your budget either, that's okay -- as an inventor, you're well-suited to get your own publicity.
This is a guest post by Cindy Johnson. Cindy is a product sampling and promotions expert for CPG brands. Before starting Sampling Effectiveness Advisors in 2004, Cindy worked for P&G in Brand Marketing and as Corporate Sampling Programs Manager.
Just three months ago, I deleted a white paper I had written in 2009 on the economy and its impact on sampling. I thought “we don’t need this anymore”. How quickly things change! I pulled the document out of the recycle bin and have updated it to provide more information:
In 2009, more than 80% of consumers said the economy is their greatest source of stress (American Psychology Association). More than two-thirds were worried about maintaining their standard of living; a 30% increase in just a year! (PROMO Apr.2009) *. I fear we are in worse situation now than we were during the recession, since consumers are not only concerned about their bank accounts, but also fear for their lives.
Psychologists say consumers can better handle the uncertainty and anxiety caused by uncertain times when they begin to take more control of their individual situations. While the impulse might be to put your head under the pillow, put your money under the mattress, and say “Wake me when it’s over”….the better course of action is to get a handle on decisions concerning finances and to keep spending under control by shopping with a list.
It wasn’t too many years ago that marketing experts were quoting percentages as high as 80% for the percentage of shopping decisions made in-store. However, a study by IRI indicated most shopping decisions were being made at home for the bulk of US households (76%). With high unemployment, consumers can’t make as many impulse buying decisions in the store, like they had in past years. We are definitely in a new era of decision making!
In 2009, The Food Marketing Institute survey reported 71% of respondents were eating out less often and cooking more at home as a result of the recession (Brand Week). Now with restaurants not being able to have customers inside, that number will be even higher in 2020!
WordSpy defines the word “homedulgence” as “during a recession, the need for consumers to prefer home-based indulgences”. The move to homedulgence is one-way consumers can ride out a recession, and extend it to other areas of life, such as mix-your-own cocktails and home dining parties.
Rather than spend $150 on a dinner for two at a five-star restaurant, consumers can spend less money to host a small dinner party for friends. Instead of spending $30 on fast-food to feed her family one meal, moms will use that same money to make three balanced-meals at home.
According to 80% of shoppers in 2009, purchasing behavior was influenced by price. Promo Magazine (March 17, 2009) reported that 20% of consumers were buying more private label brands and that coupon redemptions grew 10% in the last quarter of 2008 - the first jump in redemptions since the early 90’s. CouponInfoNow.com reported that redemptions were also up 19% in the first quarter of 2009. While coupons aren’t quite as popular as they were ten years ago, we should expect this same type of behavior in 2020.
In a nationwide poll of 431 women with children, 65% had said they had eliminated from their spending “anything I don’t feel is absolutely necessary for my lifestyle.” Only 12% told pollsters they hadn’t altered their household finances in any way. (PROMO magazine, Nov. 2008).
Not only did consumers look for efficiencies with their grocery budgets, they looked for quality and healthy choices. Despite the economy, consumers did show a willingness to pay more for organic or natural products - per a study released by the Natural Marketing Institute and the Nielson Company. With so much interest in improving the body’s immune system, consumers will again be looking for healthy choices.
The only way to feel any amount of control over this situation is to take charge of spending habits; this means making shopping lists, looking for value and quality, limiting the consumption of calories, eating at home, and making the most of the dollars available to them. Impulse buying will be impacted; shoppers will create online grocery lists for pickup at the retailer or are likely to have a list to get in and out of the store as fast as possible. Marketers can take much of the perceived risk out of new purchases by increasing product sampling (Promo Magazine).
How does product sampling fit into this equation?
First and foremost, no other marketing activity gives the consumer the actual brand experience or allows the consumer to make a purchase decision without a risk. Coupons are a preferred marketing tool during a recession (as evidenced by the increase in redemptions), but if the coupon is for a new product, most households aren’t in a position to risk a portion of their budget on a new item that might not be consumed.
To get a new initiative off the ground in a slow economy, product sampling is critical to the success of the brand because it’s the only way to ensure trial.
When consumer confidence is low (as it is now), brands should be willing to prove their product is great - by offering a free sample.
What’s the best way to approach sampling planning in hard economic times
Obviously targeting is essential to the success of a sampling campaign. And while targeting is one of the key decisions of a successful sampling campaign, if sampling doesn’t result in trial - the sampling campaign will not be successful.
Marketers need to consider when and where to reach their target; otherwise the sample could be wasted. Beyond the basic sampling effectiveness principle of reaching the target when & where he/she is receptive, brand marketers must consider the economic climate, its impact on shopping behavior, and the consumer’s reluctance to risk much of the shopping budget. Brands also need to be aware that consumers are planning grocery shopping trips in advance and that there will be a renewed interest in “homedulgence”.
What are the requirements of a successful program today?
Brand marketers should use the sampling effectiveness checklist below to make sure the program meets the 4 key requirements of a successful sampling campaign during a recession:
What programs will provide the best results in this economy
Brands frequently use event sampling or experiential type programs for sample delivery in a better economy, when consumers are out and about. There are fewer programs available (especially during a quarantine) that reach consumers when and where they are considering brand choices.
Due to the pandemic/economy and its impact on shopper behavior, sampling may call for a new strategy! Consumers are at-home once again and they are doing more planning and evaluating of their options. Air travel and events are not an option right now. In 2009, 49% of consumers said they planned to cut back on leisure travel in the future (Brand Week, June 2008). Because todays’ consumers will be attending far fewer events and will be traveling less, brands must find ways to reach consumers in a relevant and uncluttered way.
For more ideas on how to deliver your sample to your target consumer while incorporating all the principles of sampling effectiveness, contact Sampling Effectiveness Advisors. SEA’s goals are the same regardless of who we work with: to provide a better return on the brand’s sampling investment by reducing costs and increasing trial and purchase results.
About the Author:
Cindy Johnson is a product sampling and promotions expert for CPG brands. Before starting Sampling Effectiveness Advisors in 2004, Cindy worked for P&G in Brand Marketing and as Corporate Sampling Programs Manager.
by Bernard Martin
We've spend quite a bit of time researching what are the optimal sizes that onsert cards can be produced and conform to postal standards that we have gotten approval. We have developed the following set of guidelines.
THE PAPER: 18pts C1S
For the purpose of providing some "standards' we recommend inserts be produced on 18 point cardstock. This is the same cardstock that is commonly used for your business cards and postcards. “C1S” stands for Coating on 1 Side, uncoated on the other. The coated front provides more vibrant colors, while the back which is uncoated results in duller colors and is easy to write on. Thicker or thinner stock could be used and both sides could be coated, but in order to provide some costs below we need to establish what we believe would be the most commonly used paper stock to create onsert cards.
LENGTH & HEIGHT OF THE SAMPLE CAVITY
The simplest answer is that the sample cavity can be practically any size you desire. But just because it can be produced does not mean that it is feasible for packing, shipping, postal delivery or fit in magazine racks.
With the myriad of magazine sizes on the market suffice to say the whether using a header style onsert card or a spine style onsert card the onsert cavity is the important aspect of the onsert card. Here's some simple rules of thumb:
WIDTH OF THE SAMPLE CAVITY
As a general rule the width of the cavity should not be smaller than 1" wide. According to Glenn Marino, One inch "is the smallest that we can produce. Even if we could make it smaller I dont think that it could be erected and function properly."
The width can be pretty large, but keep in mind that anything sitting too high in a magazine stand would require thicker paper than 18 pt to support the weight an don't "fall over" So for the purpose of providing some ideas of standards we're going to make the following 'standard" sizes so we can give you some cost estimates.
The 3 sizes are:
The dimensions below reflect both a vertical cavity along the spine and a horizontal cavity along the top, head, in all 3 sizes. As we explained about we are basing this on using a standard magazine size of 8" x 10-3/4".
That means that the Onsert cards would be:
12.693" x 11.8125" flat folds to 8 ¼" x 10 3/8" with 15/16" sample cavity and finishing with a die cut, apply 15/16" x 4 ¾ window patch, fold and glue flat insert.
By Bernard Martin
There are the several types of packaging that really lend themselves to use on an onsert card. This includes Stick Packs, Foil Pouches & Sachets and Tube Samples. If you are in need to connecting with companies to place your samples in insert ready packaging, just drop us a note and we'll help you out!
First introduced in 1996, stick packaging has gained popularity all over the world. Stick pack has opened a new market for portable, single-serve, packaging which allows producers to maximize marketing space and give consumers a more eco-friendly and easy to use alternative to traditional bulk-serve packaging. Stick packs have a fin seal which runs from top to bottom on the back of the pouch with a horizontal seal on either end.
It’s called stick packaging because it’s long, narrow, cylindrical shape resembles a stick. Many consumer products including vitamin drinks, pre-workout, recover, electrolyte drinks, or instant coffee. Even cosmetic products can be packaged in stick packaging. Stick packs are ideal for trial or sample size products on an onsert card!
Foil Pouch & Sachets
From shampoos to flower seeds, a foil pouch or sachet. Typically used as a single-serving quantity, these packages are durable and provide a great barrier to moisture and oxygen. Foil pouches provide your products with superior protection and can many times allow for substantially longer shelf life. There is a wide range of material options available for our sachet packaging and they are perfect for snacks, cosmetics, nutritional products, vitamins, medical products, hair care products supplements and more.
Samples of your liquid or cream products lend themselves to tube packaging.
Mascara, lip gloss, lotions, deodorants, shampoos and other health and beauty product samples are often packaged in tubes.
Depending on the dimensions of the tubes these are ideal items to put in a spine or head style onset card.
Research on sampling has been going on for several decades and the results remain pretty consistent over time. Giving someone a sample of your product has always had a tremendous return on the investment.
Cindy Johnson was a product sampling expert for CPG brands and now owns a company called Sampling Effectiveness Advisors. During Cindy's career with P&G, she worked with all brands in her role as Corporate Sampling Programs Manager.
According to a report Cindy authored entitled "Why Sampling?" she found that 73% of consumers asked to evaluate eight marketing channels’ influence on their purchasing decisions said a product sample would persuade them to buy a new product, versus 19% for a TV ad.
Based on a report from Sampling Effectiveness Advisor report:
"Most brands will consider product sampling only if they have a new product (or line extension) which affords them the opportunity to include sampling in the marketing plan. However product sampling can deliver strong results behind a number of different objectives. While the only reason for product sampling is to induce trial, sampling has been shown to be successful in delivering various objectives and under many situations. (Each of the examples assumes that trial objectives are met by chosing the right program, target, etc.)."
What Can Product Sampling Do?
Product sampling can:
When was the last time that a sales rep for a publishing company walked into one of their advertisers with a NEW advertising product? An actual physical product, not a digital product. Something that could be delivered directly to magazine subscribers. In our discussions with publishing industry insiders they've told us that perhaps the last time something that was as new and innovative as an onsert was in the early 70's when scratch and sniff products came out.
Traditionally, the inside covers are really the first and last impressions a magazine reader will have until onserts!
With an onsert card there are now six covers that can be sold. The four traditional covers above plus another back cover and another inside cover (that space under the magazine when it's in the poly bag.
And of course there's the onsert sample! The sample is wrapped by branding and copy right on the cover of the magazine!.
That means that publishers now can sell
We think this is a terrific opportunity to generate new revenue streams for publishers! Of course the advertiser could publish an article on the product in the onsert "inside" cover or maybe a coupon, or a QR code.... Perhaps it could even be shaped into oragami folks for the kids!
An onsert card really opens up some creative opportunities for advertisers and that translates to new revenue dollars for publishers!
As more and more media channels emerge, it’s even harder to capture consumers’ attention. Sure, digital and print marketing are great for getting the word out…. But NOTHING attracts people’s attention … Like a free sample!
SampleMax has a new way to help magazine publishers — and their advertisers — shareproduct samples. It used to be that magazine product samples could only be offered via thin packets INSIDE the magazine.
SampleMax allows the product and its messaging to be displayed OUTSIDE the magazine. It’s a great way to advertise products like colognes and perfumes, shampoos, lotions, soaps, powder drinks, car waxes and more.
The SampleMax system can be used with any size publication, whether it’s 100 pages or 1000 … perfect bound or saddle stitched. What’s more, SampleMax is approved by the United States Postal Classification Center as a periodicals supplement.
With SampleMax, EVERYBODY WINS:
To see what SampleMax can do for Publishers, Printers, Advertisers, Advertising Agencies, Media Agencies, and Manufacturers, visit www.samplemaxinc.com … or call 850-543-5493.
According to IBR Packaging, a sampling program is a great solution for marketing your product to target consumers. Whether you're trying to attract new customers or get the word out about new products to your returning customers, creating samples can be just what you need.
What better way to show off your product than by actually sending your products! According to the USPS, product samples reach 70 million consumers. Quarterly! Sending out your product sample is the best way to introduce your brand, introduce a new product or re-introduce your company to consumers.
Get new customers.
Sending out foil pouches or cosmetic packaging filled with your liquid products, gives people a chance to try what you are selling so they will want to purchase it. They may not commit to buying a full-size product in stores if they don’t know anything about it. By giving them a trial, they can try it for themselves and see why the product is worth their time. "A study found 50% of consumers who try a sample plan to purchase the product after."
You may have customers out there that haven’t bought your product in a while, and maybe they forgotten why they love it. Send them sample packets and remind them what your company is all about!
Encourage brand recognition.
According to information on the USPS website, 92% of consumers have bought products after trying samples. Sending your brand name and information to customer homes helps them to remember it later while they are shopping.
Get customers to your website.
84% of people involved in the USPS poll said they would probably log onto a website if they received a card driving them there, and also might sign up to receive samples.
Skip the sign up part.
Just send the samples on an onsert card!
For More information on packaging for your product sample to attach to an insert card, contact:
Samplemax: The most effective way to increase your revenue and customer engagement for printing and publishing advertisers.
SampleMax™ Inc. holds both U.S. & International patents for sample 'onserts™' that enables miniature samples of product to be fastened as a magazine advertising supplement to the outside of publications so that advertisers have a premium method of presenting their product for maximum engagement.
Consumers are quite savvy and don't want to spend money on anything they aren't sure about.
That's why free samples can boost sales by as much as two thousand percent!
That's written 2,000%!
Up until now, there wasn't a way for publishers or printers to provide a standardized method of delivering product samples to consumers in a consistent format.
That is where SampleMax™ fits! SampleMax™ is an ideal solution for consumer oriented companies who are focused around entertainment, philanthropy, health and beauty, fashion, the arts, and epicurean products that need to put their sample in the hands of their target audience.
by Bernard Martin
We've been asked about how onserts compare to Post-Its, Belly Bands and Special Covers so we thought we should point out the differences, the similarities and some unique opportunities that onserts present. Let's examine each below.
A post-it's essentially a sticker attached to the front cover of the magazine and it's sometimes located inside the magazine. The great thing about post it notes is that they could get stuck somewhere else as a reminder. If you like the post-it note idea try incorporating a "keeper" portion as a perforated part of your onstatement that the consumer can tear off and save for reference with their sample. You can design it so that the glue on the perforated portion also acts to hold the onsert in postion.
A bellyband is a belt of paper wrapped around the outside of a magazine. Bellybands are highly visible and have to be physically removed from the publication before it can be read – so it guarantee a level of interaction with your customer. But, by it's very nature it is disposable and disposable quickly. An onsert is also separate from a magazine, but it has a sample product and a bunch more information, especially if you start to use it creatively by integrating post-it type notes onto it!
A lot of magazine offer a special cover. It's that additional cover that is glued onto the main cover. It's certainly has a prime position and is the first thing the consumer sees when they get the magazine. Special Covers are perhaps the closest cousin to an onsert. The primary difference being that an onsert has a sample product on it, of course. As a first step, think back to the various ways in which you have utilized special covers in the past and how you could apply that to the onsert card.
A really big distinction between a special cover and an onsert is that th eonsert is really occupying the back, cover 4, of the magazine. Onserts don't require the magazine name, bar code and other information that is necessary for a Special Cover, (but detracts from the advertiser message) because onserts occupy the space around the magazine cover.
Onserts actually present a major branding opportunity by not being "on the cover" but by being adjacent to the cover. The sample is in the center of the onsert, but the surrounding space is all cover marketing space!
Here's where you will find some ideas on how to maximize your onsert marketing, some press releases, news stories and events.