Give ’em Somethin’ to Try You Out. A Healthcare Marketing Idea from the Supermarket Samples Lady.

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting and a cherry on top

Try it. You’ll like it. And it’s free.

A highly successful medical device representative that we know jokingly refers to one of his first jobs in college as being a supermarket “samples lady.” And for physicians, hospitals and healthcare marketing professionals there’s a gem of an idea among the free samples and trials.

Once or twice a week our friend would pack up a folding table, white apron and other paraphernalia, and setup shop dispensing introductory free samples—usually a new food product—to supermarket shoppers. Of course people like free samples. Set out a little display and the bite-size bits go fast. That’s the easy part.

The end game is to have people buy the new product that they just sampled. He discovered that more products left the shelf when he also included a friendly smile and a little bit of engaging conversation about the goodness of the product.

We all know from personal experience that free trials can be an effective. No doubt you’ve tried a free bite of meatball or pudding cup yourself. We sometimes see an app online for only 99-cents. Still…we wish we could try it out…or at least cancel if the app doesn’t suit our needs.

It’s a marketing and product merchandising idea that’s been popular for at least a couple hundred years, if no longer. For the consumer, the “purchase barriers” are lowered or removed with an introductory free sample. There’s no cost and nearly no risk.

So how can you transport this powerful little idea to medical marketing? Many times a free exam is not an option, but there are other ways to bring a low-risk, low-cost or free “sample” to the prospective patient.

Our free marketing information newsletter is a good illustration. We’ve been publishing ideas and stocking a free reference library of “how-to” information for years. It was very expensive and time consuming to build. Most of our 15,000-plus subscribers will not become clients. But it turns out that many do become clients because they got to know us and “tried on” some free ideas without risk.

What can you do? Give it some thought. With a dash of rapport and encouragement, people are open to making a connection. Consider what you have to offer such as a consultation, speech, ebook, community presentation, newsletter or screening.

If you want a little help with brainstorming, give us a call or connect with us here. As it happens, the free consultation with us is…well, it’s free. By the way, have you tried the cupcakes?

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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