February 25th, 2013 By Jack Morton
As a brand experience agency we get a lot of questions about the rights and wrongs of sampling, an old school “experiential” tactic that can be expensive and hit or miss, easy to get wrong.
Yet marketers believe (as we do—we’ve seen the same research) that there’s no more compelling way to get consumers to believe in a brand (particularly a new one) than by giving them a chance to try it—or giving someone who influences them that opportunity and inspiring them to talk about the experience.
But there’s a big difference between distribution (simply giving out samples) and experience compelling enough to inspire belief and generate referrals. Three dramatically different brands in the news now have demonstrated this difference in important ways:
- Google Glass is turning consumers into storytellers on their behalf. Why would you spend $1500 to wear a head-mounted computer, Google Glass, that brings Google’s brand promise of organizing the world’s information and making it accessible to a very immediate level—your face? Rather than just giving us the answer (though their latest ad does that, too) Google’s Project Glass has created #ifihadglass, a competition in which consumers are vying to be among the first, lucky few Glass owners. Applicants have to post 50-word story saying how they’d use Google Glass and post it on a social media platform like Google+ or Twitter—thus creating a robust stream of first-hand stories of how consumers can use Google Glass to change their lives for the better.
- Popchips invited in communities of influencers. Popchips CEO Keith Belling, interviewed last week in the Wall Street Journal, spoke of the importance of seeding product samples with whole communities of possible influencers. When he was first launching the line back in 2007, for example, he sent free Popchips to every employee of creative companies Amazon, J. Crew and Nike.
- Sheryl Sandberg built a toolkit for users. Doubtless you’ve heard: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, already famous for her TED talk and Barnard commencement speech on women and leadership, is about to release a book on the same subject. However one feels about the controversy swirling around her advice for women (and men), it’s notable that Sandberg isn’t just releasing content (the book and an epically huge media campaign around it)—she’s also launching a toolkit to fuel concrete action by individual women and the businesses and organizations that need to promote them.