Sample Requests

Yay! That person you contacted wants to see a sample of your product.
Um… Now What?

First and foremost, send it as soon as you can. Don’t let time diminish their eagerness. Show your excitement to connect as well as your gratitude for their willingness by responding quickly. Follow up with an email within a day or two. Then send the sample within the week, if possible.

But what do I send?

Not every brand is the same. There isn’t a single piece of advice I can share for every sample. Instead, here are a few questions to ask yourself to decide what and how to send.

What do you sell?
Okay, this is going to sound simple, but consider size and value. If you sell cars, you probably can’t send one. If you sell small jewelry pieces, you probably can. If you sell large or family-size quantities, you could send a true sample – a personal amount. This is ideal for coffee, teas, snacks, beverages, household items, etc.

What will they do with it?
If they host a show or need to take photos or video of the product, they are going to need a full size item to showcase. You don’t want potential buyers to see a smaller, or lesser quality, version – especially if they hear the price.

Which item?
If you pitched a specific item, in an email or conversation, send that item. Sending something different will only be a disappointment or source of confusion. Check their accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to see if you can determine which color or design or flavor they would prefer. (You can also just ask them.)
Make sure what you send (and pitch) is pretty unique to your brand. Sending them an item that any number of other brands could send could get you lost in the chaos.

How big is their audience? How big is this opportunity?
Maybe this seems a bit unfair, but it’s business. A smaller audience can rightly justify a smaller product. Roughly calculate the potential number of sales you could obtain from this opportunity. If you’re shelling out more in giving product away, than you can get back, that’s not ideal. And defeats the purpose. The goal of marketing and PR – and business – is sales.

Some Other Things to Keep in Mind

Accept that you won’t get it back.
Some editors or organizations do ship samples back. It’s kind of them, but it’s rare. Most consider it a gift. And really, that’s not a bad thing. Let the recipient enjoy your product – and maybe use it personally. I’m always a bit bummed when a client product comes back because it means I will have to pitch again for anything to happen with that product.

Always include some of your literature. And make it personal. Throw some business cards or postcards in the bag or envelope. If you have a brand specific letterhead or notecard, write a note on it and thank them for their consideration.

Follow up… again!
A week or so after you send the product, email or contact the recipient to ensure they received it in good shape. Ask if there is any more information they might need and let them know you hope they enjoy.

And then you wait… This isn’t fun, but it’s the reality. There’s no guarantee they will use your product. So I suggest patting yourself on the back for going as far as you can with it… and then let it go. Then dive into more pitching, creating, and selling.

Categories: PR