Starting a new business is a challenge. Starting a new food business is even more of a struggle. The competition is stiff and restaurants are always trying to find ways to stand out and get people to try their food.
One way to get people to know how good your food is, is to let them taste it for themselves. Recently I saw this play out in Ocean City NJ. This is a resort town in southern NJ. Businesses in this area work extra hard to get the summer crowd in so they can make their money for the season.
Last year a new player for tourist dollars was The Fractured Prune donut store. This is a town with several donut shops that all seem to have their die-hard fans. It can be hard people to leave their faves and try a new comer. During the Annual Spring Block Party though the Prune made sure they were front and center and walking around with free samples. More than one person stopped in their tracks after tasting the hot and fresh donuts. They went back to the table to learn more and buy one for themselves.
As the season went on the traffic to this store grew. The initial word of mouth was a great start to get people talking. This year I went to the block party and saw another new boardwalk store called the Waffle Cabin. They were selling Belgian waffles. They were set up and making waffles but they weren’t offering samples and the few times I passed their table I didn’t see anyone stop to buy.
The cost they would have incurred to give out free product tastes and get people talking about them would have been much less than the cost of traditional advertising. They had the perfect opportunity to bring in traffic to their new location.
It will be interesting to see how the store does over the upcoming season and if they are successful enough to reopen again next year.
Do you agree that offering free samples is a good marketing strategy when you are new to the area?