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Sales promotions begin with the offer. Thats 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:
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 dont promote their promotion to their customers and potential customers.
Second, they communicate the wrong marketing message.
Lets examine the first one first: they dont 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 dont 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
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, lets 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, youre wrong. Or, at least, not quite right enough to make your marketing efforts as effective as they could be. Its the mistake most business owners make - a mistake thats about to put you ahead of your competition because youre 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, lets say you run a hypothetical small business: an auto repair shop. And, lets 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! Thats perfectly clear, absolutely understandable. And most people would say uh-huh and set it aside. Communication took place, but persuasion didnt. Marketing and advertising use communication, but they are about persuasion.
You might ask but shouldnt 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. Youd instantly be skeptical. What is this guy selling? youd wonder. Whats the catch? The more insistent he became, the more youd try to get away.
Now, imagine walking along a busy downtown street. It is after lunch, and youre on your way to an important business meeting. Youre tired and your eyes are heavy - its already been a long day, plus eating that big lunch didnt help. You look at your watch and see that youre 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 customers mind. So, to get back to our marketing scenario, start by thinking about whats great about your automotive service promotion from your customers point of view. Write down all the things that may be on your customers mind:
Planning their summer vacation
Worrying about winter weather
Uncertainty about their job or their finances or the economy.
Most people arent 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 - whats in this for me?
2. The spiel - why should I act?
3. The deal - what am I being offered?
4. The seal - OK, Im sold, now what do I do?
Now, youre probably already thinking: hey, I can use these techniques for all my advertising, not just ads for promotions. And, youd 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. Thats just one more way you get more value here at Tightwad Marketing.
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