If you're about to embark on a promotional campaign as part of a larger marketing effort, it pays to reacquaint yourself with the basics. Subhash Jain, author of “Marketing Planning & Strategy,” notes that the promotional objectives of any two companies are likely to differ – as they should, since no companies are alike. But many promotional campaigns share fundamental objectives that can help guide you and your team as you move forward with your marketing effort.
Supply the basics of what your product or service has to offer. Explaining the features is important, but detailing the benefits is vital. The two shouldn't be confused. Think in terms of the difference between “what” and “why.” A promotional effort should crystallize the difference, making it clear to consumers what your company has to offer and why it will enhance their quality of life.
Building awareness is critical, whether you are new in the marketplace and launching a new product or service, running a rebranding campaign, or trying to rejuvenate a flagging offering. A promotional effort should make consumers aware of your existence, and repetition is crucial since consumers are faced with promotional messages from myriad sources every day.
In marketing circles, the differentiator also is known as the “unique selling proposition.” Communicating through a promotional effort how your product or service is different, better, faster, more efficient or even less expensive can be the “hook” that draws customers – and keeps them coming back.
Make the jump to the key step of piquing interest by drawing attention to your product or service. Promotional strategies can run the gamut from lowbrow – hiring a teen to wear a gorilla suit and wave a sign imprinted with your company name – to highbrow, such as hiring a respected expert to host a posh luncheon-workshop at your place of business.
Do your “due diligence” and ensure that you know your customers well; you cannot craft a catchy promotional effort unless you know what will pique their interest.
Create demand so customers actively seek out your product or service. Your promotional effort may attempt to achieve this objective fluidly throughout the year, or concentrate resources at certain critical junctures to buoy sales.
Reinforce the Brand
Bolster your brand to ensure that first-time customers will become loyal, lifelong patrons of your business. Reinforcement through a promotional effort should not only remind customers that your company is “out there” and open for business, but also that they are necessary to your company's success.
Wrap it Up
Seize the opportunity and embrace all of these objectives when you're about to launch a new product or service.
- Provide information through myriad channels: on your company website, through mailers and in face-to-face encounters such as open houses. Repetition is vital because it helps build awareness.
- Evaluate the steps you've taken and adjust accordingly if a method isn't producing the desired results. For example, if mass mailers that encourage people to redeem the mailer for a promotional product are not bringing customers to your business, it's probably time to shift your time and resources to other methods.
- Once you've gained some attention in the marketplace, it's important to make the most of it by communicating how your business is different, why potential customers should frequent your business and what benefits they will derive.
- Sales, discounts and giveaways are proven ways to pique customers' interest.
- If customers are satisfied with the experience, you will have made an important step toward stimulating demand. This step isn't as difficult as it sounds, especially if you establish a promotional vehicle such as a customer loyalty or reward program.
- Reinforcing your brand might sound like it's the end of the road of the promotional cycle, but it's really the beginning of a new journey. Hosting customer appreciation nights, sending monthly, educational newsletters and even birthday cards to customers are proven promotional methods.
Read about marketing and promotional strategies developed by esteemed companies such as American Express. The idea is not so much to replicate their moves as to understand the reasoning and methodology behind them.