Free Underwear Sample – How Far Should Your Direct Sales Model Go?

Last month, I was talking to someone who had a pet product. They were putting together a business plan, and specifically a new marketing plan with one of the key features being direct marketing and direct sales. They wanted to try the old “Ben and Jerry’s” trick, whereby they would give away free samples, and pet owners would be so hooked on the product, that they would continue to order more through their website. In fact, their conversion rate in trying this out was almost 25%, and mind you they were in a fairly well-to-do area, but if they stayed with the same demographics, such a strategy could work.

How do I know this? Well, before retirement I ran a mobile car washing operation, and franchised it around the country. Our bonsai and blitz marketing team constantly went out and gave away free car washes as samples. If people enjoyed the free car wash at their office, then they would have us back on a regular schedule once a week. It was a great way to build new routes, win friends and influence people. Can any product or service the marketed this way you ask? For the most part I would say the answer is yes.

Indeed, I have a very good friend and she goes to one of the major colleges in Los Angeles, her and her friends are on the Red Bull marketing team, and they drive around in a car with a giant Red Bull can on top and give away free samples. Wherever they do this, the sales for Red Bull go up in the local liquor stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores. In other words it works.

It works so good in fact that I might even recommend that Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo have college interns run around to all of the soccer fields wearing Yahoo T-shirts, giving away prizes and inviting new users to come partake in whatever it is they are offering online. Incidentally, I did put together such a bonsai and blitz marketing campaign strategy report and I sent it to the president of Pacific Telephone in San Francisco in the early 90s, she loved the idea.

Still, there may be some products it won’t work for, such as giving away free underwear samples as a direct sales model. However, there have been large array sales teams that go out and do home parties, and they do give away free lingerie samples, and it works for them. This of course is in the privacy of the guest home being used, and not in public. Suffice it to say, direct sales work, that’s why all the successful companies do it. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.