If potential customers aren’t coming to you, go to them! Consider sampling in places where your potential customers are.
Two questions to think about when selecting out-of-store locations:
- Where are your potential customers?
- Of these locations, where would you fit in?
Sample In Busy Places
Where are the high-traffic places in your neighborhood or town that may be on the way to your location? Are there bus stops, subway or train stations where you may be able to sample?
Sample In Office Building Lobby
Is your location near office buildings with potential customers? Get permission from building owners or management to sample in the building lobby. If you offer take-out, delivery, or catering services, this is a chance to build awareness of those offerings, as well.
Drive Out-of-Store Sampling Traffic Back to Store
Once during Christmastime, Starbucks Coffee handed out – out-of-store – free 4 oz. samples of the featured holiday latte beverage. Customers were also given an empty, full-sized, specially-marked red holiday cup. When customers brought that cup back to the store, they were able to get a free full serving of that holiday beverage.
At Starbucks, we used a thermal backpack to sample both hot and cold beverages. This was a two person job. One to hold and dispense the product, the other to provide milk and sugar to those who wanted it. (At least we had to provide milk and sugar in the Northeast of the US).
Starbucks “Mercury Man” Sampling Backpack
Sampling: Venues & Events
Take advantage of the crowds drawn at events where your customers may be. Excellent opportunities include:
- Street Fairs,
- Art & Craft Fairs,
- Church Events,
- and Parades.
Check your city or town’s community calendar for events. Use last year’s calendar as a rough guide to what events may happen this year.
Be sure to sign-up in advance for events and research what permits or fees you may need to have in place. Also be sure you have the right equipment to prepare and serve off-site in a way that is food safe and maintains high-quality delivery.
Via Food Van / Sampling Van
If you plan to do out-of-store events on a regular basis and want presence, consider investing in a mobile sampling van. A mobile kitchen or display vehicle.
Pictured below is a Dunkin’ Donuts sampling van. They have the ability to brew hot beverages and blend cold drinks. It has been fully wrapped and branded for maximum visibility.
We used them for years at Starbucks, first for summer blended beverage sampling, then extended and equipped to make hot beverages as well.
You can also have the sampling van serve as a catering van to offset the costs.