Chances are you’ve received free product samples while shopping in a grocery store, boutique or garden shop. These freebies are intended to give you a taste of an item in the hopes that you’ll purchase the full-size product. Research shows that this tactic works; a report from Sampling Effectiveness Advisors indicated that 73 percent of consumers were likely to purchase a product after trying it.
What works for supermarkets might also work for your massage practice.
No Risk + Low Cost
Providing clients with free product samples can be a good way to boost sales and keep your clients coming back for more services.
Felicia Brown, LMBT, author, speaker, consultant and owner of A to Zen Massage, told MASSAGE Magazine that samples are a great way to introduce new products or services to clients at no risk to them and a small cost to you.
“This can entice people to try something they would have never considered before, and provides a value to both the therapist and client as well as the business. Many product manufacturers offer free or low-cost sample programs [to therapists] to try something they would have never considered before,” said Brown.
Find the Right Time
Brown added that product sample giveaways could also complement a specific treatment. For example, following a client’s first pain relief treatment, you could offer a topical analgesic sample, which would address the client’s needs or preferences at the time.
Special events present another good opportunity to give away free product samples. “My spa, A to Zen Massage, does this at our annual Client Appreciation Day, as well as at local health fairs, and each year in February when we celebrate our anniversary for being in business,” said Brown. “Generally, I like to schedule some sample promotions such that all clients who come in during a certain time period all get the sample if they want it.”
Nathan Nordstrom, director of massage therapy training for Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas, noted that during and after services are the most effective times to offer free sample products. But he agreed that participating in and offering samples at local events, such as a 5K walk/run, could enhance exposure for your practice.
For example, Nordstrom recommended stapling free product samples to flyers that prominently display your practice or spa and location. Not only will potential clients receive a freebie, but they will conveniently have the name and address of your business.
However, Nordstrom cautioned that any giveaway should coalesce with the event. For instance, providing samples of an analgesic cream at a wedding expo would miss the mark. In this case, a product that softens the bride’s skin, such as a salt scrub, would be a more appropriate free product sample choice. “The product should be relevant to the event. You want to connect value to your practice,” he said.
Know Your Why
Kamillya Hunter, director of business development for Spa Analytics, emphasized that therapists should identify the reason for giving away product samples. “It could be that you believe the product could enhance the effects of the massage. For therapists who are interested in retail, sampling a product is a great way to introduce your clients to what you intend to sell,” Hunter said. “Or you may simply offer it as a complimentary gift to attract clients or show appreciation to existing ones.”
Hunter pointed out that clients don’t rely on just one thing, such as massage, for wellness. “Many are in search of products with therapeutic and/or relaxation value. They trust their therapists to guide them in the right direction,” she said. “Clients also may not want to spend a lot of money on a full-sized product that may or may not work for them. Sampling it first allows them to make a more informed decision.”
Try Before You Buy
Hunter cautions that therapists should be informed about the products they recommend. “I don’t believe it needs to be a product they personally use; however, they should be well-informed of the ingredients, benefits and possible side effects, if applicable,” she said.
Maria T. Jackson, BPS, MAH, LMT, PAS, a postural alignment specialist from Las Vegas, employs a two-pronged approach when providing free product samples. She uses a product first to determine how it works, which gives credibility to her advice. “I never share anything I haven’t tried myself,” she said.
Jackson may also use the product during a massage to allow the client to experience it personally. Most important, she only recommends products that are organic.
Free Product Samples Add Value
Research shows that providing samples encourages future purchases and service upgrades, which helps boost revenue. Brown said, “It also leaves the client with a good feeling about the therapist and the business, since sampling is adding value to their overall experience.”
During trainings, Nordstrom reminds therapists to make sure clients are well taken care of, which includes maintaining regular dialogue.
“The client should receive the right experience, the right services and the right products,” he said. “If you are not connected to your clients’ needs, you’re falling short of enhancements that make clients more willing to engage. This affects your bottom line. Happier clients are more willing to come back.”
About the Author
Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage.