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Samples: Bad For Our Health, Good For Your Brand's

Posted May 10, 2012 by Vicki.

Relationships are key in the partnership marketing world. And, as with any relationship, we love those special surprises, such as you calling us for help, or when you respond with a fast “sure, I’m in” after a pitch. 

One surprise with which we have a love/hate relationship, though, is samples.  On the hate side, they tend to arrive just when one of us have declared war on that last 10 pounds. On the love side, there is no better way to help us personally connect with your brand. Trying a brand in the office environment – where half of us are moaning “not again!” while the other half swoon “ooh, chocolate!” – gives us an excellent chance to become fans.

Once the initial thrill of opening and sampling is over, we talk about and try different pairings, brainstorm potential partners, talk about you to our friends to get their ideas, and ultimately talk you up to our clients. 

Here are some examples of when sampling added not only inches, but results.

Wholly Tailgate!  We were talking to Fresherized Foods about teaming their Wholly Guacamole with a wine.  Before long a huge cooler arrived, chock full of everything Wholly, including a selection of guacamole and salsas that amazed us. Talk about instant fans!  Not long after, Wholly Guacamole was featured on coupons hanging on bottles of Gnarly Head and Twisted wines. Two years running, we might add. Coincidence? We think not.

A Kitchen Magic Shortcut:   I don’t cook well or often, so any herbs I buy tend to go from fridge to trash. So when I came upon Gourmet Garden at a show, I went a bit nuts. They offer fresh, chopped, squeezable herbs and spices, refrigerated and ready when you need them.  After the show, Botanical Food Company sent us their full line! Before long I fancied myself a true chef. I bet you can guess what happened next.  A colleague was looking for something to “spice up” sales for their client in Target. Guess who ended up in the coupon book?

Let’s Drink on It: The occasional case of wine that arrives from our long-standing clients is a great reminder to always be on the lookout for partners for them. The bottles also come in handy as a way to catch the attention of a busy brand manager (it’s not bribery, it’s sampling!). Thanks to the inspiration that can come in a quality cabernet, we recently delivered these brands for our wines:  Johnsonville Sausage, Eggland’s Best Eggs, Tyson Chicken, Dare Breton Crackers, Litehouse Salad Dressing, Lucini Olive Oil, NatureSweet Cherry Tomatoes, New York Style Chips, Better Homes & Gardens magazine, Champignon Cheese, and associations for pork and shrimp.  Plus a few we can’t mention yet.

Potential Partners for Your Brand

The following brands recently wowed us with their product samples; we're actively looking for their ideal partners. Could one of them be right for you?

  • Everything truffle from Sabatino, including truffle-infused olive oil, truffle honey and … wait for it …  THREE WHOLE BLACK TRUFFLES.  We have lots of pairings in mind…
  • Fine meats from Daniele Foods, including prosciutto, sopressata, capocollo, and genoa salame. We learned an important lesson on boundaries with this shipment: spouses who love prosciutto must be monitored carefully.
  • Finely crafted Jerky – yes, jerky – from Monogram Foods. We can’t WAIT to find the right partner for them in convenience stores. It’s just a matter of time.
  • Oblaten. O-what-en, you ask? It’s a delicate, delicious cookie, perfect with coffee or tea, and made by the folks at Award Baking International. 

Given the results that these samples helped us deliver, we have made peace with the fact that an expanding partner database often brings with it an expanding waistline.  If you’re of a mind to share, we’ll see what partners we can suggest for you. As soon as we get beyond that uncomfortable, bloated feeling.

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