Do you often get requests for FREE products from bloggers, the media, stores or other people who are interested in “trying” out your brand? And do you know when to say YES or NO to a free product request? If not, read on as I answer today's question from Joy:
Question: Hi Andreea, Love your site!! Recently I have been contacted by quite a few people who would like to try my products before they buy. A couple of them were actual bloggers who will post product reviews, the others are just looking for a handout. How should I respond? I was thinking of being honest and saying that I am a handcrafter, not a big business and cannot afford to send samples or something to that effect. Please help! I don't know where they are getting my name from! Thanks, Joy
Click the button above to listen to my answers and then I'd love to know your thoughts/feelings on this topic. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
HOW TO POLITELY SAY “NO”
If after listening to this episode you decide that you need to say NO more often, here's a quick script that you can use to respond to free product requests:
For magazine editors: Thanks so much for your interest in featuring our products in your magazine. We would love to send you some free samples, but our policy is to request all of our samples back. As you can imagine, our products are quite expensive to manufacture and we simply don't have the funds to send out too many free products. I hope this doesn't limit our ability to get featured on the pages of your magazine and I look forward to working with you.
For retail stores: Thanks so much for requesting a free product sample and for your interest in possibly carrying our products in your store. Unfortunately, we are not able to send out free product samples, but we would love to extend our 50% discount to retail stores to you and to offer you free shipping on your sample order. You can use the code DISCOUNTCODE at checkout. Thanks so much for considering our products for your store and I look forward to working with you.
For anyone else: Thanks so much for requesting a free product sample. Unfortunately, we are not able to honor every request for free products that comes our way. However, we'd love to give you a 20% discount on your next order if you use the code DISCOUNTCODE. Thanks so much for trying out our products and we hope you enjoy them!
I'd love to know what your biggest takeaway is from this podcast. Have you been approached by someone requesting a free sample from you? Leave a comment below and let's continue the conversation.
As always, lots of good info here! I really appreciated the insight on blog reviews and how a blogger who goes out into the world with your product is best suited to give an honest, compelling review. I have shied away from some opportunities because I could tell that the other reviewed products weren’t used and instead just felt like a product promo. Definitely pays to be choosy with where to send free product.
This is great info.
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for listening.
Good response and guidelines. Thank you so much for your expertise.
Great podcast. I often wondered how to vet these Bloggers though. Is there a way to verify their actual audience and influence?
I wondered the same thing! Although I looked over a blogger that approached me and didn’t think it looked done well enough to offer up free jewelry.
Karen, if you feel that their design/branding doesn’t fit in with yours, then I would recommend not doing the review!
Thanks for listening! One way to check is to look at their Alexa.com rank – the lower the rank, the more popular the site. I usually prefer to work with bloggers whose rank is under 100,000 in the US.
Thanks Andreea for covering this topic. I’ve been actually pursuing mommy bloggers to review my science lab kits. The first review netted one order, and continued exposure. I have had her review a product from my other company and kept receiving traffic from it for years. I look at a bloggers track record, amount of followers and commenters on other posts, visibility on social media, and their blogging schedule. I then helped them by posting their review on the product they reviewed and added their posts to my Facebook, Pinterest, etc. When all of that is done it’s great exposure for the cost of the product.
Hi Sheri, That is so great! I agree – the traffic can come in months or years after the review. And I think it’s great that you helped them as well by sharing the review with your own audience!
Wonderful Podcast and perfect timing as I woke up to a blogger asking me for free samples on the same day this email arrived. Thanks for sharing, it was very helpful!
We receive multiple requests from Mommy Bloggers through the year. We have had great luck with some and no luck with others. What I have not figured out is why they request products and then do not do the reviews. I am currently trying to figure out why the Mommy Blogger will not respond to any of my requests for information about a Holiday/Giveaway Review and it is now 12/27 which is after Christmas. I have had trouble twice now and it makes me not trust new requests that come in. Have any of you had luck finding out why someone decided not to review products that they specifically requested? I am frustrated because I am out the cost of the product, shipping charges and use tax. Your information and suggestions would be appreciated.
Sandy, sorry to hear that! Unfortunately that can happen sometimes – when the blogger might have requested too many products to review and she simply doesn’t have the time to review them all. Or she might review it for another post… You might want to reach out publicly on Facebook or Twitter and ask for your samples to be returned.
I had not thought about reaching out publicly to her. I just sent emails through her contact me and through my customer relations manager program that she used to originally ask for the holiday review/raffle. Thank you for the suggestion.
Do you have advice on sending samples to retail boutiques? I make apothecary products and was thinking of creating smaller sized versions of my products to send as samples, however I want to be sure they get a good idea of my brand and packaging.
As far as sending samples to stores, you should only send them if the store requests them, otherwise it will get really expensive!
I too sent samples. Around mid January someone had contacted me. It was for medical pouches with belts to hold diabetic insulin pumps. She asked if I would be interested she would need two, one for her daughter and the other for a giveaway. Her daughter has diabetes and had a petition going for American Girl,doll to make a diabetic testing kit so this finally came to and kits were made. She has been on the news and all over due to this. I thought this would be a good thing for me and my business as I do regular and matching doll pouches so I sent 3 pouches to this woman. Her emails were cold in a way, never mentioned my first name, even after she received my samples, said they were awesome and would take pictures that weekend. Now she also has a good number of followers on Facebook. Well now if May so I sent an email about the status of this giveaway and didn’t get a response. I waited 3’weeks and sent another email looking for status. Here we are almost 4 months out and nothing not even a response. I was thinking of going to her Facebook page next as you recommend above. I feel she should send me these 3’samples back as they took my precious time to make. I’m not sure how to go about it and how many times until I get a response. Any suggestions would be great.
Also this woman said people ask her all the time about where to buy pouches for their American girl dolls but I haven’t got one recommendation from what I have seen. I was very professional with my product and sent some very nice well made unique items to her. I don’t get it.
Thanks for the great info, Andreea! I am launching a hair accessory biz soon so this was really helpful.
I have a couple of questions:
1] What criteria do you use to decide if an online retailer is worth working with and sending samples to?
2] What shipping carrier or service level do you recommend to use for sending out samples? Is it enough to use USPS First Class Mail for small stores? What shipping level do you use for large retailers?
Thank you SO much. I’ve been asked for samples of my work and have put in a LOT of effort into it and never hear back. I believe they are just tire-kickers who can’t be bothered to take out the time to read my website or blog and get to know me, and what I stand for. But I haven’t known how to say No. Thank you for your help!