To remain competitive, small businesses need to rely on tactics, both
old and new, to reach their target market. Product demonstrations remain one of the most inexpensive, yet effective, promotional vehicles available. One study suggests that 51% of shoppers purchased a product because of previous sampling. From accounting services to hedge clippers, both products and services can benefit from this marketing tactic.Here are a few basic tips for making the most of your product demonstrations:

  • Understand your audiences and their needs
    The best way to customize your promotion is to first understand your target markets. Consider what drives them to purchase: A desire to live healthier? Conserve money? Save time? Relating to your customers’ thought processes helps you personally deliver a carefully crafted message and respond to every concern that may arise.

This analysis of your target audiences will help you prepare down to the simplest of details. For instance, a small pediatric office demonstrated how to properly triage cuts and scrapes at a local business expo. Among their target audience of mothers, the two doctors distributed youth-sized polo shirts and bandage dispensers. Knowing that children get dirty, they opted for a dark navy blue for prolonged use. Remembering that mothers of small children typically carry bandages in their purses gave prime product placement.

  • Know your product or service
    Typically, demonstrations tend to go smoothly; but when issues arise, they have the potential to snowball. Educate yourself or your staff on everything: from cleaning to troubleshooting your product or the timelines and deliverables on your services. Even the most confident person can be stumped during a presentation, but if you appear as an expert on everything else, a slight hesitation won’t jeopardize the entire effort.

Consider a role-playing demonstration with your staff. This collaboration will allow your sales team to learn from others’ experiences. Constructive criticism will better prepare the demonstrators for any audience.

  • Connect with your audience
    The easiest way to engage and connect with your audience is to make them laugh. Using your natural humour and charm will put your audience at ease and establish trust. Storytelling is another way to connect with your audience quicker than a stuffy presentation. “Stories and analogies enhance your personal presence,” according to professional demonstrator and blogger Steve Kraner. That being said, those who are not natural storytellers shouldn’t attempt this craft. If it’s awkward and choppy, it will have the opposite effect and disconnect your audience from the message.

Approaching customers indirectly with the solutions the product or service provides allows them to conceptualize how their life would be enhanced by a simple purchase. Highlight the process by using props. For example, if your product saves time, compare the two methods by allowing the audience to time each product on a stopwatch. If your product is exercise equipment, let each member of the audience check their BMI (body mass index). This participation allows the audience to witness the intangible effects.

  • Remember the three P’s
    Due to the inevitability of Murphy’s Law, it is best if you come prepared for anything. Implement the three P’s: practice, plan and prepare. As already stated, practice your pitch until you feel comfortable, and then three more times to be confident. Plan ahead by ordering your supplies, displays and custom banner in advance to avoid potential logistical complications. Finally, prepare for the worst but plan for the best. Should a circumstance arise where you need tools, you will have already packed a fully stocked toolbox.
  • Follow through
    While you may not make the sale immediately, the product experience is far from over. Send a related thank-you card with a gift, reminding participants of their experience and keeping your brand present post-demonstration. For example, if you’re displaying the features of a new gardening tool, enclose a packet of seeds inside a thank-you note. It is a lightweight gift to minimize your direct mailing expenses.

Overall, these five basic tips can provide your customer with a positive experience that resonates long after the demonstration is through.

Ocasio-Rizzo, Holly. “Using Free Samples to Boost Your Sales.” Business.com. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Kraner, Steve. “21 Powerful Product Demo and Sales Presentation Tips.” SalesMarks.com. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

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