May 8, 2013

Managing for More than the Moment

Retailers have long understood the value of samples and two-fers.

When Procter and Gamble was introducing their home dry cleaning product, Dryel, they shipped free samples to thousands of sorority houses, a target market they perceived as being a natural fit for the new product. Visit any Sam's Club or Costco on a Saturday and you can essentially eat a complete meal if you accept samples given at the end of almost every aisle. On the two-fer side, don’t be surprised if that cleaning product you just bought at Target has a sample of another product shrink-wrapped in with the item you purchased. 

Both of these marketing approaches relate to a simple concept: when we've got your attention we want to imbue it with meaning beyond just this moment. 

In our time-pressed world, organizations would be wise to extend this concept deeper into their products and services mix. A continuing education workshop could also include a social or networking component. The evaluation form for that workshop can also be turned into a marketing tool by offering a discount to a future program if registration is completed at that very moment. 

The possibilities are endless. A board or staff meeting could also include a needs assessment component by having participants work the phones and call members or customers randomly to solicit their ideas and feedback. By getting answers to a few simple questions that could be used to guide future offerings, a membership application or renewal form also becomes a marketing research tool. An evaluation form volunteers use to offer feedback on their experiences also becomes a referral tool if it solicits the names of individuals they suggest contacting about getting involved. 

In terms of sampling, we could learn from the example of many software or online service providers.

It is not unusual for either to offer a 30-day free trial at the end of which your credit card will automatically be charged the full product price unless you cancel in advance. The key is to get the actual registration and purchase decision made upfront as a part of committing to try the product, not making people register and buy at the end of their trial period. That approach is far less likely to lead to new sales or memberships. 

We need to become more adept at maximizing and leveraging the attention of our information-weary target audiences any time we actually get individuals to perk up and take notice. Expanding an initial action or commitment on their part into additional choices can deepen the relationship we have with them over time. 

To put this into practice in your organization, the next time you are planning a meeting or event or designing a response or order form, consider how you might use the moment to elicit more commitment or action in support of your organization’s goals and objectives.

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