Brand Connections Launches DIGITRY™

Brand Connections, an independent agency whose slogan “Make Marketing Easier for Marketers™” really resonates with me, has announced a marketing strategy  for sampling that does my heart good.      As I read the release and consider the import one line really  jumps out at me “… we can authentically recommend the right options…”.      By increasing sample program options and integrating the full range of Brand Connections sampling assets a new cohesive whole is created.

As I have often bemoaned, our sampling industry has traditionally been saddled with constant intense competitive pressure to feature one form of sampling “over” another rather than looking at brand needs and seeking the optimal hybrid solution.   This step should be seen as a positive as a sampling company can truly bring multiple options to the table when a strategic plan for a brands’ trial program is being developed.    Far too often this crucial strategy step has been undertaken by resources that simply do not have a true appreciation of the sampling universe.    For the product sampling industry to continue to grow and thrive as a strategy, the companies that are truly experts in this complex arena need to be brought into the process far sooner than most situations allow today and this approach is one I sincerely welcome.

I continue to believe that a single company, no matter how extensive their scale, can never be perfect at every form of sampling in the ecosystem.  However, this step positions DIGITRY™ as a thought leader and not just because I have been advocating for this kind of position for years, rather because I firmly believe it is the right thing to do in order to meet brand needs and increase the recognized value of our industry.    So, sincere kudos to Brand Connections in taking this step and let’s watch and see how the marketing world reacts to this long overdue approach.

Another very important point the release speaks to is ratings and reviews with a service, in partnership with Bazaarvoice, known as DIGITRY Advocate.   This includes the website found at Digitry.us  which is an easy human interface to sign up with the intent of receiving samples and returning to “our website to rate and review the product”.         While this release talks about “each DIGITRY offering is powered by DIGITRY Advocate, providing brands with a seamless opportunity to generate ratings and reviews through our product sampling and review community website”  I do want to know more.     One of the stumbling blocks in the ratings/review arena is that the concept of a community, where one need ‘sign up’ as a method to generate and capture ratings/reviews, does continue to be challenged by some.        

The debate surrounding the broad topic of ratings/reviews and their authenticity requires me to spend focussed time on that topic in a post later this week as I still struggle with clarity of the best practice for capturing authentic ratings and reviews – in particular from reaction to sampling programs.

This is not a new topic for me, back in 2000 our original StartSampling website contained an “Our Samplers Say” section (right rail, mid page & thanks to the wayback machine yet again) that struck such fear into marketers hearts  that we were forced to take it down.   So, we have come a long way and the genuine opinions of product samplers are and continue to be a valuable data stream.   The “how to” best leverage these powerful reactions remains unsettled so stay tuned for some thoughts on that.