Have you ever run out of foundation right before a big client meeting? I recently did and made a quick stop at Dillard’s. I carefully navigated through the perfume section, with the cheerful salesladies offering to spray me with multiple scents, and past a number of gift with purchase cosmetics counters.
I tested out the display lip gloss while I waited. When it was my turn the saleswoman offered to try the new limited edition seasonal colors on my face which I happily accepted, including a new lip color.
Does this cosmetics counter routine sound familiar? Do you have a makeup weakness? Mine is lipstick. Lip gloss. Lip color anything! So, of course, I bought the new limited edition seasonal color without a second thought.
As the sales lady rung up my order she pulled out a couple of samples. She chatted about the samples while completing the transaction. She put the free samples in my bag and sent me on my way. Me having spent more than I’d planned and headed home with new goodies to try.
I left her cosmetics counter and navigated my way back through the ladies offering to spray me with perfume proudly displaying my new lip color.
As I got in the car it hit me. I’d been upsold. And I was happy about it!
Limited time, seasonal, free samples and personal attention. Who hasn’t fallen for that at the cosmetics counter? And it’s happened more than once, right?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could market and sell your products as simply and easily as the cosmetics counter lady?
Where did this cosmetics counter marketing concept come from anyhow?
The next day driving to meet my client I selected on one of my favorite podcast series Great Women of Business. I downloaded the biography of Estee Lauder as I pulled out of my driveway having just been to the Bobbi Brown counter, one of her companies.
Estee Lauder is responsible for launching the modern cosmetics counter experience and forever changing the face of the cosmetics industry.
Like many women of her day, she had to hustle to prove she could operate a successful business. Her goal was simple. She wanted to create products for all women to feel beautiful. She combined her goal AND the lessons she learned growing up in a family of retail store owners with her uncle’s chemistry knowledge.
In the late-1940’s, while operating her make up counters in small salons she dreamed of a cosmetics counter in Saks Fifth Avenue. According to the podcast, to get Saks’s attention she gave away lipstick at a society luncheon and invited the ladies at the luncheon to buy additional colors at Saks. When they arrived to purchase additional colors hers wasn’t there. The cosmetics buyer was forced to give her a space to sell from. She sold out of $800 worth of product in her first two days.
From there she went on to create and cultivate the cosmetics counter experience we all know today including the practice of giving a gift with purchase. She also had high standards for her sales team and the relationships they created with customers.
Estee Lauder gave away product samples to allow women to try her products building trust and loyalty.
What do the free samples at the cosmetic counter have to do with you and your businesses?
Cosmetic counters employ sales funnel marketing basics in a way that you can implement too.
Limited time offers, seasonal, free samples before clients buy and free samples as thank you gifts.
The more you give the more your clients will want to buy. And when you are selling something that’s a great thing!
Sales Funnel Marketing Basics
Sales funnel is a marketing term for the path your client or customer takes to buy your product.
Let’s looks at this sales funnel marketing basic strategy with an online business example. You may have noticed a current trend on Pinterest that Pin descriptions include “Free Printable Download”. The person posting the pin is offering a free sample of their product to peak interest and gain trust.
After downloading the free sample, a limited time offer of an additional product or service at a reduced price might be offered. And because the reader likes the free offering AND the limited time offer clock is ticking they make a purchase.
The same as I tried the new lipstick color, learned it was a limited time color and immediately purchased it so did the person who clicked on a free printable download, liked it and purchased the limited time offer discounted product that followed.
Why You Should Try Sales Funnel Marketing
In the Pinterest online business example above a “cold” customer entered a sales funnel by clicking on the Pin and downloading a free gift. She was also offered an option to purchase a product at a discounted price for a limited time. If she has been “warmed” enough by the free gift and the accompanying information about the product she will purchase the product offered.
Often times it takes more than one free gift to warm your customer enough to make a purchase. They need to get to know trust and like you enough to make a purchase. And that’s where – like the cosmetic counter – your goal is to build brand awareness and trust.
Give free samples that provide value. Share your knowledge for free. Create a relationship that allows your potential customer to know like and trust you.
Then employ a sales funnel marketing basic strategy, like a limited time discount offer, to give your prospective client a nudge to complete the transaction.
If the thought of sales funnels makes you feel uncomfortable think about this: every time you enjoy a free sample at Costco you are entering a basic sales funnel. You enjoy a free sample then sometimes add the product to your cart.
I once bought a banana ice cream maker this way. It was only available in that Costco location that week. True Story.
There are many marketing strategies you can choose from to grow your business. The benefit sales funnel marketing offers is a way to build awareness, trust, loyalty AND sales. Your prospective clients to get to know and like you through your free samples making it that much easier for them to purchase your product or service.
In my post Finding an Accountant When You Are Self-Employed I offer my readers a link to a free workbook to help them implement the recommendations in my post. There is no sales pitch. I offer a free product to readers giving them an opportunity to get to know and trust me by using my workbook.
They also will begin receiving my weekly emails which provide a second opportunity to get to know trust and like me. Through this basic sales funnel marketing strategy I am warming previously cold readers.
I challenge you to take a few minutes to consider a small product or service you can offer prospects. A product or service that will provide real value and allow your prospective clients to get to know and like you.
Now give that product or service away for free.
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