A new way to increase product trial take-ups?

People love free trials. A taste of something new and tasty, a new brand of washing powder, new shampoo that promises to make your hair super shiny. As human beings, we're naturally curious, and really, who doesn't love free stuff?

But, short of paying a fortune to magazine publishers, getting people to pay enough attention to your advertising messages to get them to trial your products can be tricky - especially in the overcrowded FMCG space. Brands really do need to earn consumers' attention these days. And then of course, there's the issue of proving return on investment. It's a notorious problem with advertising - how do you know if it's working? How do you know why it is working? Or where? Sponsored call marketing Sponsored call marketing is a new platform that is enabling leading consumer brands to attract attention by giving consumers something they value - free talk time to chat to their friends and family. The concept is simple - brands inform their target audience via SMS or social media that they are sponsoring their calls for the day, the week or the month. Interested consumers are encouraged to dial a unique USSD string to activate their free call. They listen to a 10- or 15-second advert that tells them about the brand promotion (product trial) they might be interested in, after which the free call is automatically connected. Sponsored call marketing works best when the call to action is something that is beneficial to the listener - like directions to free samples or a discount coupon code, but it can also be used as the incentive itself. For example, you could give away a free call to thank customers for responding to a survey. Which is exactly what a leading fabric softener brand did - it gave away free calls to encourage consumers to participate in a national survey, with the help of digital marketing agency JustPalm.com. The campaign was designed to reach 10,000 South African women and reaffirm the brand's position as the most loved brand by mothers and daughters across South Africa. The brand's values of care, comfort and love between family members was perfectly encapsulated by the idea of sponsoring their target market phone calls. The power of mobile This example shows just how much power there is in mobile in Africa. It provides the perfect platform to reach consumers instantly and give them something valuable, while at the same time increasing brand awareness. And the results can be collected and analysed within days.

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