Skip to: Navigation | Content | Footer


Putting your Brand into the Right Hands!

Free distribution and brand to hand are growth areas for publishers. It drives awareness and increases ABC countable circulation. Good planning is key for a successful campaign. Marketforce’s Alan Edwards has five top tips for ensuring success.

Alan Edwards

Posted on: 09 March 2018


Everybody loves a freebie, right? Well, the answer is yes!

Allow me to paint a picture… It’s a miserable Monday morning in October and you have just dodged the hurried footsteps of fellow commuters rushing to their cosy workplace. Just as you prepare to exit the station into the rat race, there in front of you is your saviour to offer you a free food or drink sample or an insightful magazine. The day just got a whole lot better; this is brand to hand sampling!

Brand to hand sampling is an effective way to raise awareness of your product and drive sales at any stage of the product lifecycle.

Marketforce is a leading sales, marketing and distribution company with expertise across mass market and specialist products. After many years in the free distribution and brand to hand arena, here are my five top tips to ensure you achieve the best possible results from your next brand to hand activity.

1. Hit the target

Take time to understand who your target audience is and what message you want to convey. Talk to your distributor at the start of your brand to hand journey as they can offer detailed insight into the best possible way to ensure you hit the spot with your target audience. Whether you’re looking to target the hipsters of Hoxton or the students of Swansea, it’s essential to choose a supplier that has all the tools and experience to make your activity the talk of the town.

2. Right Place, Right Time

You will only have a split second to make an impact and relay your branded message to your desired audience, so ensure that your brand is in the right place at the right time. Are you looking to distribute as many samples of your product in the shortest amount of time possible or are you aiming to create “mini moments” for your audience to immerse themselves in your brand? We have orchestrated brand to hand campaigns that have distributed 300,000 energy drink cans in nine hours and immersed consumers in the world of virtual reality across several cities simultaneously.

3. Branding is Key

If you have been through Waterloo station during rush hour, you will know that it can be very difficult to see your next step let alone a promotion taking place amongst the stampede. Therefore, it’s vital to create bright and impactful promotions to ensure every element stands out amongst the crowds. Whether it be branded uniform, mugs or bespoke distribution units, you and your distribution partner will need to ensure that the point of sale team has all angles covered.

4. Social Networking

As many people will not be expecting to see your promotion on the street or at an event, creating a buzz on social media is essential to drive footfall and pick-up rates. To demonstrate the power of social media, it is predicted that by 2022, the number of monthly active users will hit 42.88 million. This represents an increase of over four million new users from the 38.01 million users in 2015, so it is clear to see the impact that social media could have on reaching your target market or wider audience. Building competitions and prizes into your social media platform will extend the brand experience and will promote awareness of your brand to hand activity.

5. Evaluate & Evolve

It’s important to take time to reflect on the success of the activity and to take a 360-degree look at the whole campaign to get a full picture on what worked well and to identify any elements that could be improved next time. Again, it’s important to choose a distributor that knows what “good” looks like, but who will go the extra mile to deliver the BEST!

Brand to hand sampling is no longer limited to just FMCG products; for publishers, it has opened up new opportunities to raise awareness and build circulation. If managed properly, everything should comply with strict ABC regulations, meaning that your free distribution and brand to hand activity can form a reliable component of your ABC circulation figure.

Marketforce is a leading sales, marketing and distribution company, working with some of the world’s largest media organisations.

Marketforce UK

5 Churchill Place

Canary Wharf

London E14 5HU


Tel: 020 3787 9161


About Alan Edwards
(Details last updated: 6 March 2018)

Alan Edwards is a circulation manager at Marketforce. Alan is responsible for the implementation of all brand to hand and free distribution activities at Marketforce as well as managing the circulation of several well-known newsstand titles. Alan has twelve years’ experience working in the field marketing and brand to hand arena and has overseen brand to hand activities for many of the free UK titles as well as major global brands.

Tel: 020 3787 9161

Email: Send a message to this author


comments powered by Disqus

Most read on InPublishing

These are the most read stories on the InPublishing website over the last 14 days, in order from the top.


My Publishing Life – John Bardsley

John Bardsley
Posted on: 14 March 2018

Maximising Up-sell and Cross-sell Opportunities

Dan Heffernan
Posted on: 2 February 2018

Branded Video: 5 minutes with… Pete Fergusson

Pete Fergusson
Posted on: 22 March 2018

Podcasts are clearly a thing, so what’s your strategy?

Peter Houston
Posted on: 1 February 2018

Opportunities & Threats: Customer Publishing

Nicola Murphy
Posted on: 2 February 2018

Opportunities & Threats: Consumer Media

David Hepworth
Posted on: 2 February 2018

Embrace Your Mobile Audience

Hutch Hicken
Posted on: 2 February 2018

Opportunities & Threats: B2B Media

Colin Morrison
Posted on: 2 February 2018

NME: why all the fuss?

James Evelegh
Posted on: 15 March 2018

Beyond the world of print: how publishing is evolving

Adam Sherman
Posted on: 2 February 2018

This list is based on data from Google Analytics, and is refreshed every 24 hours. (Last updated: 23/03/2018 05:52)

Editor's Pick of Recent News Stories

Posted on: 23 March 2018
Posted on: 21 March 2018
Posted on: 21 March 2018
Posted on: 20 March 2018
Posted on: 20 March 2018

Find out more about

Featured job

Circulation Manager – Publisher Services
Salary: Competitive
Time Inc UK Ltd
Canary Wharf, London

Featured in InPublishing Jobs

InPub Weekly: Sign-up

Click here to sign up for our free weekly email newsletter:

Sign up now!

Magazine registration

Next Top Tips Webinar

Roundtable: Six strategies for a profitable future in magazine media

2.30-3.15pm (BST), Tuesday 17 April 2018

Louise Court, Andy Hill and Phil Walker


Webinar sponsored by

Publishing Partners Guide