Could this be the best sampling program ever?

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Some goals of sampling programs usually are:

  • Your publication gets picked up rather than piled up in the delivery area.
  • Your publication gets read before being placed in the trash.
  • Ideally your publication gets read cover to cover, not just glanced at.
  • Hopefully your publication gets shared and read by several people.

Here is what I consider the best sampling program – ever: hospital delivery. This could be sponsored by an advertiser, or from public donations, or you can make it your community contribution. You can do any or all of these – just do the delivery and let the sponsorships come in.

So why is a hospital program the best sampling program you can do?

Your publication is delivered to the room, no unsightly possible piles in the driveway.

Most patients have lots of time on their hands, so reading from front page to last page is far more likely to occur; reading most of the newspaper is almost certain.

Most patients have visitors, some of whom have to wait hours in a waiting room. These will also be readers and some of them will take your paper home with them.

Some points on keeping the cost down:

While you will want to provide subscription cards, you could keep these at a minimum by finding out the days of the week most discharges occur. 

Another thought: selling a wrap for the hospital papers to multiple advertisers, and you could include space on the wrap for your subscription offer. NOTE: you will probably be sampling subscribers as well as non-subscribers. I would honor any subscription offer presented from the program. Why risk making them quit just because they got your "special"?

In some cases, the hospital will not want you to deliver to the rooms, so you might see if you can provide some incentive to the volunteer staff to deliver the paper with their meals.

Most audit agencies treat this type of program under their bulk sales or sponsored sales rules. Since this could affect your cost, I would suggest discussing your program with your audit company. The most recent ABC announcement says you may discount up to 75 percent of the publication's price and count it as paid circulation (just an FYI – you could report both paid and unpaid hospital distribution.  Depending on the sponsorship, this would likely be all-paid some months and half-paid other months).

Lewis Floyd is a senior associate with WB Grimes & Company, with responsibility for the Southern states.  He may be reached at (850) 532-9466 or lfloydmedia@gmail.com.

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