Sales promotions are a great way to promote your company and to boost sales. They can be a perfect way to develop what you want to do. So many businesses use them on a regular basis and they can really work. However, they involve a high level of resources. From money to time, they can be intense and you want to ensure that work for you. After all, no one wants a flop. An unsuccessful promotion can have a negative effect on your business and be expensive. It might sound like hard work that is full of risks. You might well wonder what the point of doing a promotion at all is.
It can help you to engage with your current customers. It can additionally engage brand new customers that you want to encourage to use your business. It will raise awareness of your business. A promotion takes many different formats, but find the ones that suits your business. Tap into something that your customers want and it will be worth it. Use your resources appropriately and you could do very well. Take a look at our simple and effective steps to creating a successful promotion. Use the opportunity create something you are proud of.
- It Should Be Part of a Bigger Plan
One of the most important elements of any business is its marketing plan. This should not be something set up for a one-off random event. It should be a detailed plan that spans several years of development. Your business should have set goals of how it can develop over time. It should include individual marketing methods you want to use. Individual sales promotions should be a part of this bigger plan. They should be allocated resources and spread out over time, to achieve something specific.
This should happen even if you are not sure exactly what you want to do with each promotion. Scheduling them in gives you something to work towards. By thinking about an overall plan, you can create something unique to your business. It will have an impact that builds up. You may wish to devote a little more resource each time. It would make sense to have a plan to put a set amount of dollars aside each month. Build it up gradually and it will not be a shock to remove it from the business. Taking it all at once is significantly more difficult to stomach.
2. Set Out a Very Specific Set of Aims
Thinking about your individual sales promotion, what do you want it to achieve? Start with why you want to do the promotion. What is its goal? Is it simply to make extra money? Do you want to sell a set number of a particular item? Perhaps you are aiming to bring in new customers. Or would you prefer to keep the existing ones happy? There are so many reasons why you want to do a certain types of promotion. However, it is essential to set the aims in advance.
Imagine deciding to do a random promotion. Perhaps it involves running a discount or a promotion on a set item. Without setting out the whys of doing that, it could be a big flop. You might plan to sell boxes of bagels for $5. Without thinking about who this is aimed at, it becomes arbitrary. Have a plan in mind to solidify why you are doing each promotion and what the aims are. This will lead to positivity in moving forward. Knowing your audience and what they are receptive to will be a big help.
3. Define What Success Means at the Start
Have you ever been part of someone’s big promotion? Everything is all set up and the customers come in. You make some sales and you are really happy with how it is going. Then at the end, the boss tells you he isn’t happy with the performance. You had completely different measures of success. You wonder how you could have got it so wrong? This is easy to do when the definition of success for that promotion is not set out upfront. That way no one knows what to do and success is never going to happen.
Define what success means at the very beginning of the of the process. You are selling tool boxes or boxes of donuts or rodent cages- whatever it is, be clear about the goal. It could be 20 of whichever box each day. Equally it might be 10 new customers per day during the promotion. Perhaps it is 5 new people to sign up to your newsletter over the entire promotion. Or it could be 3 new enquiries. Choose a stretching but achievable target and then stick to it. This will have everyone in the organization working to the same plan. Also, when success is reached, each person knows what that means and can celebrate.
4. Set a Budget and Stick to It
Plan out your promotion carefully attributing a cost to each individual item. This is essential as spiralling costs will not lead to a successful promotion. An advance costing will be set to maximise your profits. This sounds really easy to achieve, but it can be such a challenge. You find that printing costs more than you expect. Then the cost of delivering leaflets was something you had not factored in. Regular customers come in with a coupon and then they are paying less than usual, affecting profits. You buy more ribbon to tie up the boxes as your guesstimate of what was needed was wrong.
There are so many ways in which the budget can get out of control. Try budgeting 90% of your available funds and then keeping 10% back to allow for problems. By having a little flexibility, it can make a positive impact on your promotion. Sometimes however, the threat of going over budget means you must reduce your plan. By doing less, you do affect the marketing promotion. However, it does not eat into what is available for future campaigns. The only time you might add to the budget is if you have far exceeded your target. Then you can reinvest some of the money.
5. Involve the Entire Team
Devising the plan for marketing and promotions on your own is never a good idea. Even if you are the main person who deals with things and are the source of most knowledge. After all, even if this is true you might not be that creative. Involve your whole team whether that is one other person or 100. You are going to be asking them or most of them to implement the strategy. They will be selling within the sales promotion. They will be involved. If you impose this on them, they may only work half-heartedly at it. If you engage them in it, they will have buy-in and take ownership.
Brainstorm ideas as a group or in small groups if it is a bigger team. There may be ideas you had not considered. You might find people are willing to put in additional time to implement something they think of. If they want to try something that seems reasonable, you can include this in the plan. This may take some of the hard work and burden away for you too. Decide what to do based on the overall budget, aims and definition of success. Then everyone will have had the chance to input and the opportunity to be positive and creative. All members of the team will be working on a common goal.
6. Create Plan One
Plan one is all about the benefits of the approach you have decided to take. If you like, it is the whats and the whys of doing the sales promotion. Getting as much information down and sorted before you start is useful. It gets things started properly and with a streamlined and smooth way of working. You might want to use a project management tool to help with this. The BOSCARD method might be particularly appropriate and give your promotion great definition. The time spent planning will help you to be successful. It can save a lot of time in the long run as you know what you are doing and why.
7. Create Plan Two
Running alongside plan one, plan two is all about the practical who, where and when. It is about defining individual tasks with detail. Try creating a workflow chart with each overall task such as getting special resources for the promotion. Break this down into smaller parts, to each group of resources. Have a date of when this need to be ordered by and who is ordering it. By making things clear there is greater accountability. It means that everyone can take ownership of their part and know clearly how it fits in overall. It ensures everything is completed in time and within everyone’s expectations. The more you plan and mitigate against possible problems, the better your sales promotion will be.
8. Consider Who You Are Targeting
What customers are you planning to target? It is current ones that need their loyalty relationship maintaining? It is brand new ones who have never been in before but you would like to get? Acquiring new customers generally takes a lot more financial investment than appealing to existing ones. Perhaps you want to consider appealing first and foremost to current customers. However, if you run a sales promotion with a reasonably broad appeal then you may appeal to new ones too. These promotions are the best kind to reach out to a variety of people. If your promotion is very niche, you run the risk of it not appealing to anyone.
You need to give your customers a fear of losing out. This is by making the product something they want as well as interesting and enticing. You might consider having a limited stock available. Perhaps it could be that there are 20 per day. Or 100 for the entire promotion. Make it a small number though and customers will not bother. It will give them the expectation that they will never be able to get it. So, make it desirable and attainable and make them want to get it. It might be something as simple as a cupcake with colored icing or a green toolbox. It can be anything so long as it is slightly different to the norm.
9. Know What You Are Offering and Advertise
If you go to the trouble of having a sales promotion, make sure you inform people of it. There is no point in running something that no one is aware of. Give your customers and potential customers information that is timely and relevant. If the promotion is happening in a week you might start giving advance notice. You do not want to do this months before though, as it becomes irrelevant. You might build up the information over time giving out an additional snippet each day. You want your advertising to grab their attention.
Avoid making your advertising complicated or wordy. If it becomes too difficult to achieve or ambiguous you could end up with unhappy customers. Most sales promotions act as an immediate boost to sales and to improve customer volume or customer relations. This could cause problems for success in these areas. Your marketing should be eye catching and attractive with a desirable end product. Also, do not have a sales promotion for something inferior. If you get a box of candy free when you spend $20, that might sound like a great promotion. If you later found out that candy was past its sell-by date, how would you feel? For some customers they would complain, others would never come back, so do consider this.
Make sure your marketing matches up and makes it explicit exactly what you are offering. Can you extend your advertising even further? Can you link up with a charity? You could offer customers 10% off when they spend $20 and a $1 donation to charity. Or bring in a food can for the local homeless shelter and exchange it for a discount voucher. Take a photo of staff donating the first set of cans a few days into the promotion. Send it to the local newspaper with a short story and publish it on your social media. Tag in the charity and you’ll soon get plenty of bonus free promotion. You will do something good and get something good in return. Free positive publicity can make a great boost.
10. Theme Sales Promotions
Have you thought themed sales promotions? For example, what about a monthly promotion that customers can look forward to. Or an alphabet promotion? Start a promotion for letter A and work through 26 promotions to letter Z. They can be big and small and all different types from discounts to promotion on a set item. Perhaps customers can collect a pin for every promotion they get. Perhaps there are only a set number or pins. Your customers will get engaged in this format and get interested about what is coming next. Exciting your customers and getting them wanting more is a great way to succeed in your promotion.
You might also consider sales promotions based on the time of the year. You can have promotions that related to Mother’s Day, Valentines, Easter and Thanksgiving. Lots of businesses have promotions of this type so plan to stand out from the crowd. Plan something interesting and unique that no one else is doing. Promotions that give your customers something they actually want is best. If you choose something they are not excited about such as ‘another chocolate egg’, it may not work. If you are offering a free gift, consider having a choice. Everyone loves to pick something out for themselves or a loved one.
11. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate
Every time you run a sales promotion, you must evaluate it. Run through each element of it; the good, the bad and the ugly. Make a note of everything that worked well. Make a note of everything that did not work well. Make a list of the things you would have changed if you could go back. The likelihood is that you will follow a similar strategy at some point in the future. These are the lessons you have learned to inform your future events. Remember to keep all your previous documents and copies of these that can be edited. It can save future dollars on creating new posters or leaflets. Learn from what you have done. Proven ideas save so much time in resources.
Sales promotions needs not be an obvious hit or miss. There are ways you can plan and develop to make them a success. If you are going to put resources into a sales promotion, they could be substantial. There will be a time cost and there will be a monetary cost too. This is not insubstantial and is something that needs to create good value in your business. Whatever you do, this should represent a positive return for you. With some consideration and bringing people to work together, this can become a reality. Make a sales promotion you can be produce of to grow your business in a positive way.