When Clayton Christopher started an iced tea company with just $25,000 in 1998, he used pillowcases for tea bags and brewed his concoction in 50-gallon crawfish pots. He spent his weekends at groceries, handing out samples. "At least 90 percent of our marketing went to free samples. You've got to get the product past people's lips," he says. A decade later, Sweet Leaf Tea had sales of $12 million -- and still depends on sampling as its chief marketing strategy.

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