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Sales promotion is an integral part of most any marketing campaign that is trying to drive sales now. It’s not for building brand image as it should be dedicated to creating a change of attitude or behavior to get your prospects to the buying decision sooner rather than later.
A sales promotion can include all levels of execution – TV, newspaper, radio, social media (facebook, linked in, twitter, pinterist, Instagram, blogs), billboards, point-of-purchase displays, window displays, promotional products, posters, premiums, special events, rebates, coupons, free samples, just about every manner of communication.
Sales promotions are typically for a limited time and are designed to invoke increased demand. Think about the weekly sales flyers in your local newspaper, “This week’s specials”. They want you to buy these items now, not some time in the future. They are designed to get you into their place of business where they hope to entice you to buy/try more than just the sale items.
They are also trying to get you to buy/try from them versus their competitor. Think about all the after Thanksgiving sales that now start on Thanksgiving Day. Those are sales promotions and each one starts with doorbuster discounts that are only good for the first few hours of the stores opening. All in the hopes that you will shop them first instead of their competitors.
Most sales promotions include some incentive or added value for you to encourage you to purchase now:
- Book Now and Save 60% (10%, 20%, etc)
- Special of the Week/day/month/quarter
- Free Shipping Today
- Gift with Purchase
- Earn Extra Bonus Miles/Points
- Free Upgrade
- Lowest Prices of the season
- 3 Day Sale (24 hour sale)
- BOGO (Buy One Get One Free)
- % off your next purchase
- Buy 1 at full price get the 2nd at 50% off
- 3rd & 4th guests 50% off/free
There are many possibilities but you get the idea.
Now, just because a promotion brings added sales or trial, does not necessarily mean it’s financially successful. Did you give too much away? Did you cover your costs of goods as well as your overhead? Did your non-sales promotion product sales increase? In other words, did you make a profit?
In addition, what type of customer did you attract? Did you secure new customers that will return after the promotion period ends? Or were they just one time customers looking for a deal?
Recently, one major retailer has become just one “sales promotion” after another. I now won’t shop there unless it’s one of their sales days and I know they will have one every week if not twice a week. So why would I shop any other time? I won’t. Even if what I want may not ever go on sale I now assume I might as well wait just in case. In my mind they have cheapened their brand. One of their competitors rarely advertises sales and surprisingly I have been going there more often. Thinking the value is better.
So, even though sales promotions by definition are designed as a short term boost to sales you still need to consider what the promotion may be doing to your brand image long term.
As you can see, a sales promotion needs to consider many factors and be well thought out before executed.
But one thing is for sure. Don’t wait to launch a program until it’s too late. The saddest sales promotion is the “Everything Must Go, Going Out of Business”.