Whether you’re a big or small business or are a multilevel marketing representative, promotions are an essential business activity for you that can be very lucrative when properly executed. Keep reading to learn how to create an effective promotion.
For definition purposes, a promotion is advertising or a form of publicity, whereas a special offer is an incentive to encourage someone to buy or utilize your product or service. I do see these terms used interchangeably in marketing, so feel free to use whichever you’re most comfortable. It’s important to note that promotions and special offers are not exclusive to a product-oriented industry and do not have to mean you’re always discounting something. Professionals in the service industry have excellent opportunities to share their expertise through a variety of channels.
A promotion or special offer needs to have a clear purpose with a clear message. I’ve outlined a process to help guide you. For those of you (like me) who prefer a bulleted version here it is, but keep reading for all the details:
Identify an Objective
Select Your Strategy
Develop Your Action Plan
Create Your Messaging
Share Your Message
Execute Your Promotion
Identify an Objective
First you need to identify an objective. The objective is your what and why. It is your ultimate goal. Some promotions could have multiple objectives, but you should always have a primary objective to help you stay focused. Here are some ideas for objectives:
Increase sales dollars overall
Increase sales on a specific product/service
Increase in-store traffic
Increase online traffic
Increase awareness (brand, service, product, etc.)
Introduce a new product or service
Grow your audience (email list, social media followers)
Be sure to make your objectives specific and measurable. For example, if you currently have 800 followers on social media and your objective is to increase the number of followers on social media, choose a target number, such as 1,000. I’ll copy the bulleted list of objective ideas from above and show you how you can get more specific:
Increase sales dollars overall by XX% by the end of the quarter.
Increase sales on a specific product/service by XX% by the end of the month.
Increase in-store traffic by ### of people in the following month.
Increase online traffic by ### users within the next month.
Increase awareness of <<brand or specific product or service>>.
Introduce a new product or service by effectively communicating why consumers need it.
Grow your audience (email list, social media followers) by doubling <<list or followers>> in the next 3 months.
Any business activity should have a well-defined objective, and promotions or special offers are no different. Once you have determined your objective, you will need to decide how you will meet that objective.
Select Your Strategy
Your strategy will be how you plan to achieve your objective. There are several ways to approach your objective.
Run a Sale
Sales can be effective tools for increase sales and store traffic. Sales are most effective for well-established services and products. You might think it is helpful to discount a product or service, but it really only is if you already have customers and clients buying from you. Those are the people that will look forward to getting a favorite product or service for a lesser price. I strongly recommend saving special pricing and sale offers once you are established.
Host an Event (in-store or online)
Events are a great way to create excitement around your objective. Events do not have to be expensive and grandiose, even free education events or demonstrations are helpful for building trust and proving expertise.
Offer a freebie.
There really are two kinds of freebies: physical and electronic. Physical freebies are best for in-store promotions. For example, giving a small gift for the first number of people in the store or offering cash coupons on purchases for future visits. If you are giving away some product for free, it is often something that may have been shared by the manufacturer. Be careful to not dip too deep into your pockets for freebies. The idea of business is to make money.
Electronic freebies are very popular for online-based businesses. You’d be hard-pressed to find a life or business coach that isn’t offering some sort of freebie in the form of a class or a download to help grow their email list. Here is a great article from edenfried.com on creating freebies.
Conduct a Presentation
Do you have products or services that everyone would be lined up outside your door if they knew how valuable they were? You might choose to do a presentation to provide more information and even demonstrate what you have to offer.
Team Up with Another Business
Are there people with different businesses in your network that would make for an ideal collaboration? I have seen competing auto dealerships host "battles", very exciting for consumers looking for the best deals. Maybe you are a chiropractor and choose to team up with a massage therapist to offer something beneficial for both of your clients. Get creative!
Take time to plan and ensure your strategy correlates with your objective. Your overarching strategy can be non-descriptive, but you should absolutely map out your strategy can be generic, but you should define action steps and assign roles and responsibilities. All promotions should have a start and end date. If you are an event or presentation that is for a specific time on a specific day, be diligent in researching other events happening in your community. Oftentimes so many things are going on at one time that makes people have to choose which one they would rather attend, and it might not be yours.
Develop Your Action Plan
You have your objective and strategy in place, now it is time to plan. Planning is a very important step to many business activities that is unfortunately often overlooked. Planning can be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful promotion. Include these details in your action plan:
Activities that need to be accomplished before, during, and after your promotion.
Identify responsible parties for completion those activities.
Identify the date in which each activity should be completed.
If you are doing a promotion for the first time, it is possible you might encounter situations or issues you did not foresee. That’s OK. Your action plan does not have to include copious amounts of “if…then…” statements. Remember all business activities are also learning opportunities to help you do better in the future.
With your action plan in place, you will need to determine how you will share your promotion.
Create Your Messaging
All the elements of promotions planning we’ve discussed so far are essential, but if no one knows about your promotion or understand what you are offering them, there is little chance for success. Your messaging is very important. As you develop messaging and content around your promotion, answer these questions:
What are the most important details people need to know?
What will get people as excited about this as I am?
Why do people want to take advantage of my promotion?
Who is this promotion most helpful to?
How will people be able to participate in my promotion?
What value does my promotion add to people’s lives?
Be sure to take time to craft your message(s) and keep it consistent. Remember that almost everyone out there is competing for the attention of the customers and clients you are trying to reach. Stand out with clear, concise, and consistent messaging. Once your message is ready, you need to share it.
Share Your Message
There are so many avenues for sharing your message, and it is up to you to choose which ones you will focus on. Remember to stay consistent with your messages.
Which platforms are you on and which ones do you have the most engagement? Many experts recommend not constantly selling on your social media platforms. Make sure you have other helpful, engaging content on your profiles and avoid only posting when you have a promotion or something to sell.
Where does your audience get information? TV, radio, newspaper? Depending on the type of promotion you have, you could potentially send a press release to get exposure at no cost to you.
Word of Mouth
Do you have friends, family, or colleagues willing to support your business? Ask them to help spread the word at their places of work or sharing on social media.
Make sure you always share your promotion on your business website.
If your business is listed on Google My Business or Bing Places or Yelp, make sure to update your listing or create a post that features your promotion.
I know, most people don’t really like talking on the phone that much anymore, but if you have people and customers that you know should take part in your promotion, just pick up the phone and invite them. Can you imagine if your favorite small town shop called you up and said we’re doing Friends & Family this Saturday with 25% off everything in store and we’d really like you to be there! While potentially time consuming, how much more effective and personable than any other way!
If you have a mailing list, make sure you use it! When you are running a promotion, don’t be afraid to reach out to that list more than once. You can do a coming soon, almost here, today’s the day, and/or thank you for coming out!
Many service organizations and businesses often invite speakers to come in and share more about what they do. Tap into venues that make mesh well with what you have to offer and provide a short and engaging presentation to create excitement.
If you have a storefront, printing out small flyers ahead of time to give to customers as they leave are helpful. Be sure to hang signs in your windows, on your doors, or in the restrooms. If you do not have a storefront, think about local businesses that have community boards that would allow you to post a flyer.
Depending on your promotion, you might choose to go with good old snail mail. While more expensive than an email, this could be a very powerful option for you.
Important note: If you are creating visual imagery, keep that consistent as well. Each piece of marketing should look like it belongs together. Even if you’d like to change up the design somewhat from image to image, keeping the colors, fonts, and key shapes the same will help people absorb your message more easily.
Execute Your Promotion
Now everything is in place, everyone you’ve tried to reach knows about your promotion and is excited, and the day has come when your promotion begins. Everything should be in place and ready to go. Be sure your employees also know all the details of the promotion so they can effectively support your customers without confusion.
During this time you will want to track data to help you determine if your promotion was a success or needs improvement. Here are things you can look at, and remember what you track should align perfectly with your objectives. In fact, I will go ahead and copy that bulleted list from above once more to give you clear examples.
Increase sales dollars overall by XX% by the end of the quarter. Total sales in dollars before, during, and after promotion
Increase sales on a specific product/service by XX% by the end of the month. Total sales on product/service before, during, and after promotion
Increase in-store traffic by ### of people in the following month. Number of people in store before, during, and after promotion Number of new customers during promotion
Increase online traffic by ### users within the next month. Number of users before, during, and after promotion
Increase awareness of <<brand or specific product or service>>. Inquiries/purchases of product/service before, during, and after promotion Webpage visits for product/service before, during, and after promotion Search listings data (Google My Business, Bing Place, Yelp, etc.) for business before, during, and after promotion Phone calls, emails, or direct messages about business, products, or services before, during and after promotion
Introduce a new product or service by effectively communicating why consumers need it. Engagement/response during promotion (phone calls, emails, direct messages, social media engagement, people coming in store asking directly about new product or service)
Grow your audience (email list, social media followers) by doubling <<list or followers>> in the next 3 months. Number of email list/followers before, during, and after promotion
You can definitely measure more things, but I am keeping this general as I do not yet know what your promotion is. Here is a very comprehensive marketing metric guide from Klipfolio if you’d like to dive deeper. The bottom line is you need a way to determine if your promotion worked for you as you had intended or not.
Last but not least, once the promotion has ended, you will want to evaluate the effectiveness. The metrics you identified above will be important here as you compare data. Anecdotal experiences are also important during this step:
What kind of feedback did you hear from employees and customers?
Were there any snags or challenges? (coupon code didn’t work, misprints, unclear messaging, etc.)
What went well?
What didn’t go well?
Would you do this again without changes? With changes?
If you determine you had a very successful promotion, I would recommend not making too many changes or adjustments in the future. If you felt your promotion was unsuccessful, determine if making tweaks (different day(s), time(s), messaging, marketing, etc.) would be helpful or if it should be canned altogether. Remember, even unsuccessful promotions are beneficial if you are willing to learn where improvements can be made.
If you are still struggling to run successful promotions and grow your business, you have to read You, Your Business, and the Prosperity Frequency.
Please share your most successful (or unsuccessful) blog in the comments below!
Fried, Eden. How to Brainstorm & Create Opt-in Freebies that will Explode Your Email List. edenfried.com https://edenfried.com/freebie-ideas-grow-email-list/
Klipfolio. Key Marketing Metrics Every Marketer Should Know. https://www.klipfolio.com/resources/kpi-examples/marketing
About the Author:
Serena James, MBA is a holistic healer combining her passions of business and energy into one unique and powerful consulting experience to help you take your business to the next level and beyond. Get your copy of her latest book Vibe Higher geared toward self-awareness and personal growth.