Well, you’d think it would go without saying, wouldn’t you? Who wants to do Bad Promotion? Probably no one, but there sure is a lot of Mediocre Promotion being done. Or maybe you could call it Seat of the Pants Promotion, or Top of the Head Promotion.
What sets Good Promotion apart from the rest?
It starts with a plan and definite goals. “To increase overall sales by 15% over last year in the next quarter.” “To introduce our new product range, achieving sales of XXXX in the first 60 days.” “To build our Brand Image by increasing Unique Page Views by 25% in the next quarter.”
Not “do more business”, not “make more money”, not “retire by 35”. Definite goals in a measured period of time. That’s step one.
How much capital do you have to devote to your promotion? Money for advertising, staff or resources for web promotion, products for sampling or giveaways? Hopefully the promotion will pay for itself as it unfolds, but you are going to need start-up funds and possibly product on hand prior to the start of the promotion.
Product or Image Positioning
Are you trying to simply “build your brand”? If so, do you have a brand worth building? Do you have a USP, or Unique Selling Proposition? What can you say about your business, or product, in a single sentence that sets it apart from every other business? That is what you need to sell. FedEx’s “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight” is a great example.
Does this statement absolutely, positively need to be 100% exclusive to your business or your product? In the above case, UPS may make the same claim, but FedEx did and made the impression on millions. And in general, trying to counter such a statement only helps to reinforce the original, so UPS does not dispute it directly.
However, you can also use what is called POD, or Point of Difference, to actively point out how your product differs from competitive products. This is also a normal promotional technique. Just think about poor “Brand X”, always the underdog in head to head competition.
OK, now to implement what you have laid out. Where and how to start?
Announce your promotion. One or all of the following methods can be used simultaneously to kick things off.
A Press Release. These take some talent to do properly. You can read up on how to do them so they get noticed and published. You may send to retail, general interest publications and/or to industry specific trade publications. This may require separate press releases.
Articles on the Internet. You can write about your promotion and spread it around for free by submitting the articles to any number of sites that offer articles for use in newsletters, blogs and print. Be sure to include a link to your site and make yourself an expert when you add the “about the author” or “resource box” at the end of the article.
Post on related forums. If you are active on forums related to your product or business niche, be sure and tell your friends on the forums you visit. Certainly stay within the self-promotion guidelines of whichever forum you are visiting, and do not resort to spamming new forums in the hope of a bit of free advertising.
Email. Certainly send email announcements to your “opt-in” mailing list. Again, do not spam, but definitely announce your promotion to previous customers, newsletter subscribers and others who have asked or agreed to join your email lists.
After the Kick-off
Have a tracking program in place. Whether selling online, by phone or mail, or at retail, know exactly what is being sold, who is purchasing, where they are coming from and maybe even more important, who is looking and not purchasing. You can’t tell how effective your promotion is without keeping score.
Capture contact information. You want more than onetime sales. Even if you are promoting a single product at this time, you want to build on these buyers (and visitors) for continuing sales. Get back to them with follow-up discounts, “tell a friend” deals and additional add-on sales. Keep in mind that even a non-buyer this time may become a buyer in the future, they looked, so there must be some interest.
Have a Contingency Plan
What if things don’t take off? What if there is just minimal interest? Do you have a pricing cushion you can fall on and drop the price? Can you offer a “freebie” or a “combo offer” by including a known popular item for a combined package deal.
Note again the word Plan. Promotions are way more than “15%OFF!”, they take planning, tracking and evaluation.