The First Free Sample: Benjamin T. Babbitt
While it’s often difficult to nail down the first person to engage in widespread and popular marketing techniques, it’s accepted by many that the first person to distribute free samples of his product was Benjamin T. Babbitt, a soap manufacturer who lived from 1809 to 1889.
Babbitt was a highly successful businessman and actually came up with the plans for many of the machines in his soap factories. He was well-known for his excellent feel for advertising, including the idea of handing out free samples.
Check out this advertisement for Babbitt’s soap! Note that in the bottom left hand corner it says, “A fair trial is all I ask for it,” suggesting that all it will take to convert a consumer to his soap is giving them the chance to try it. Some products–soap included–tend to have loyal buyers; Once you find a product you like, you tend to buy it over and over again. The same isn’t true for all industries or products, so the cost of distributing free samples of soap is paid back many times over by loyal buyers who will buy the soap for their whole life.
What are some other industries that tend to convert lifetime-buyers? What are some industries where this isn’t the case?
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The GC Marketing Services TeamPost by Cricky Cicchetti
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