How to promote your sales promotion
How to promote your sales promotion
© John Kuraoka, a project of www.kuraoka.com
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Sales promotions begin with the offer. That’s especially true of one-time marketing concepts, such as you might use to start or expand your small business, or to boost your short-term revenues. Your ideal promotional offer is something:
- of value to your customers or clients, and
- relevant to your business, and
- pertinent to your competitive edge.
Sometimes, the easiest promotional offer is a discount, but often you can think of a smarter marketing idea if you try. What is your competitive edge – the single thing that sets you apart from your competition? How can your promotion highlight your competitive edge? Other common promotional offers include bonus products or services. Such promotions give customers a chance to “sample” your other products and services. See the article Tightwad Promotions: Sales Programs that Sell for more ideas and recommendations about small business sales promotions.
Once you have your promotional offer figured out, you must promote your sales promotion! This is where many small businesses fall short in their advertising and marketing efforts. This failure happens in two ways.
First, they don’t promote their promotion to their customers and potential customers.
Second, they communicate the wrong marketing message.
Let’s examine the first one first: they don’t promote their promotion to their customers and potential customers.
When it comes to small business marketing, the first thought is usually advertising, but advertising adds expense. Between the cost of buying advertising media and the cost of the promotion itself, you may find that your returns don’t justify the expense. In addition, advertising for a promotion tends to attract price-sensitive shoppers who may not return.
There are smarter, cheaper, ways to begin promoting your sales promotion, as befits a business owner reading a website called Tightwad Marketing. Here are a few specific marketing suggestions:
- In-store signage, especially at the entry, near relevant products, and at the checkout counter
- Have employees mention the promotion to all customers
- Employee buttons/tags/stickers that say “Ask me about (YOUR PROMOTION)”
- Reminders on receipts – use an inexpensive rubber stamp or stickers
- Promotional flyer placed in bag at check-out
- Highlight your promotion on your website’s main page
- Create a webpage about your promotion, and link to it from your main website page and your “What’s New” section
- Collect email addresses from people who would like to receive promotional offers from your business
- Have employees mention the promotion to callers
- Change your answering machine message to mention the promotion
- Mention and explain the promotion with your on-hold message
- Cold-call prospects either by location or market
- Call existing customers to inform them of this promotional opportunity
- Distribute to current customers, in-store or on-doorstep
- Include with mailed invoices, statements, or newsletters
- Include in bag at check-out
- Include in box with shipped merchandise
- Cross-promotion with other local businesses (“you distribute my promotional flyer and I’ll distribute yours”)
- Post on community bulletin boards, information boards, and other venues that permit such flyers
- Hand out flyers to passers-by
- Distribute door-to-door in targeted neighborhoods (NOTE: it’s illegal to place anything in mailboxes, so you’ll have to hang it from the doorknob, slip it into the door trim, or use the doormat to weigh down one edge)
- For more about advertising flyers, see Advertising flyer critique: what’s wrong with your flyers
- Include an article about the promotion in your newsletter, if you have one
- Send out press releases to get publicity (see the article Publicity: the Tightwad Marketing secret weapon for more about publicity)
- Permission-based email notification
- Postcards (cheap to create, cheap to mail) to existing customers
- Postcards to targeted potential customers
- Joint promotion with related businesses (“let’s all chip in on a promotional marketing piece that we’ll each distribute”)
- Okay, you also can advertise in your local shopping circular or newspaper – classifieds are often a better deal than display advertising
In summary, get the word out to as many customers and potential customers as possible, as many ways as possible. You might have a terrific promotion, but without strong marketing support, no one will know about it, and it will fail.
Next, let’s examine the second way many small businesses fall short in their promotional marketing efforts: they communicate the wrong marketing message.
If you think your message should be about your offer, believe it or not, you’re wrong. Or, at least, not quite right enough to make your marketing efforts as effective as they could be. It’s the mistake most business owners make – a mistake that’s about to put you ahead of your competition because you’re moments away from knowing better.
Your offer might be great to you, but the key to successfully promoting your promotion, is to make your offer great to your customer.
In other words, your marketing message should be about your customer, and how he or she will benefit from your wonderful offer.
For example, let’s say you run a hypothetical small business: an auto repair shop. And, let’s say that you decide on a discount promotion (unimaginative as it is): 15% off all automotive services. Now, to promote the promotion, you could have flyers printed that say: “15% off all automotive services!” That’s perfectly clear, absolutely understandable. And most people would say “uh-huh” and set it aside. Communication took place, but persuasion didn’t. Marketing and advertising use communication, but they are about persuasion.
You might ask “but shouldn’t my offer come first?” No – what must come first is creating receptiveness to your offer. Otherwise, your offer just hits a brick wall.
Imagine walking along a busy downtown street. A man standing nearby looks at you and says “Come here, I want to give you a dollar.” You’d instantly be skeptical. “What is this guy selling?” you’d wonder. “What’s the catch?” The more insistent he became, the more you’d try to get away.
Now, imagine walking along a busy downtown street. It is after lunch, and you’re on your way to an important business meeting. You’re tired and your eyes are heavy – it’s already been a long day, plus eating that big lunch didn’t help. You look at your watch and see that you’re actually a bit ahead of schedule. Ahhh, a few precious minutes to try to gather your thoughts about this meeting and maybe wake up a bit. Your bleary eyes land on a coffee cart. You reach into your pocket … and realize you left your wallet at home. Rats! A man standing nearby looks at you and says “Hey, you look like you could use a cup of coffee … can I give you a buck for a cup of coffee?” Are you receptive to the offer? Oh yes!
Persuasion begins with rapport, and rapport begins with getting into your customer’s mind. So, to get back to our marketing scenario, start by thinking about what’s great about your automotive service promotion from your customer’s point of view. Write down all the things that may be on your customer’s mind:
Planning their summer vacation
Worrying about winter weather
Uncertainty about their job or their finances or the economy.
Most people aren’t thinking about having their car serviced. So, the next step is to take the idea of having their car serviced, and hitch it to the things they are thinking about. And, introduce the general idea of your offer. Maybe the flyer begins:
Get your car ready for summer road trips – and save!
Winterize your car at 15% off
Your car will last longer … and even your money will go farther!
something better that you come up with, now that you have the idea.
Follow up your headline with copy explaining the benefits of having the car serviced, and of using your auto repair shop. Now – not before, but now – comes the benefit of the promotional offer (remember, 15% off?). End with a strong call to action (“call now for your appointment!”) and a coupon that spells out your offer in plain language, including a prominent expiration date. Remember to include your business name, address, and a locator map if applicable (marketing research shows that having a locator map improves retail response), along with your telephone number and website URL. If your business has a logo, use it.
In summary, and in order, here are the steps through which your promotional marketing should guide your potential customer:
1. The appeal – what’s in this for me?
2. The spiel – why should I act?
3. The deal – what am I being offered?
4. The seal – OK, I’m sold, now what do I do?
Now, you’re probably already thinking: “hey, I can use these techniques for all my advertising, not just ads for promotions.” And, you’d be 100% right! These tips for promoting your sales promotion work equally well for promoting your small business in general. One marketing article, multiple marketing applications. That’s just one more way you get more value here at Tightwad Marketing.
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