Mariusz Pionka, Bristol-based Chocolatier at Cocoa Corner Chocolates is a great example of a business person who completely understands the value of giving free samples in their marketing.

Venture into Mariusz’s store at 190 Gloucester Road and you will be welcomed both by his infectious passion for high quality, hand-made chocolate as well as his well-presented array of beautiful and delicious products.

You could argue that there are others offering premium cocoa products, but the difference with Mariusz is that he really understands the value of providing free samples of each product to aid the decision making.

When we arrived in the store, Mariusz was in conversation with and serving another customer. At the same time as providing this personal service, he over-heard our conversation and in parallel to serving this other customer, was able to quietly and unobtrusively offer us a little taster sample of the product that we had identified could be of interest to us.

When it came to our turn, Mariusz presented us quietly and effectively with a taster sample of each product we were interested in. No stone was left un-turned as we steadily narrowed down our choice, to be presented with a seamless “if you like that one, try this one too”. No hint of overt selling, just a steady stream of (very well received) free samples to help our decision.

It became a case not of whether we were going to buy, but simply when we do buy, which flavour(s) would we select.

This high-valued approach to the customer journey in store had me thinking about the wider use and value of giving free samples in all sorts of marketing situations, both product and service. If I reflect back on my own ‘offer’, I do give away for free, many of the tools, techniques and thinking that a business can try to improve their marketing. Yes the prospective client could then decide to ‘self serve’, but invariably they value the free samples so much they then wish to engage me to learn more and develop their business.

But where do you start and finish if you decide to take the route of giving away free samples in your own marketing? Firstly it’s a good idea to ensure that the samples are low cost to you. Mariusz free taster samples are pieces of chocolate that taste the same as the real product but are in essence ‘off cuts’ that occur in the making process. Many other chocolatiers may throw these away and miss this wonderful opportunity.

Secondly if you have samples, ensure you have samples for ALL of your products. After all, you never know which product a new customer might be interested in and it would be a shame if you had a sample for everything apart from the one that mattered to them.

Thirdly, offer your free samples without expectation of a direct and immediate return. In the case of this Chocolatier, he has confidence in his product, so much that he knows that with one taste you will be hooked!

It is undoubtedly a very effective tool in your marketing armoury, so think today about what free samples you might offer to your prospective customers to help them on their journey of experience with you.

And remember to visit Mariusz in Cocoa Corner Chocolates, 190 Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8NU.

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