Sales promotion is a very effective tool for getting consumers to change their buying behavior to buy now.  I am a regular shopper at one major department store. Why? Because I am a part of their loyalty program. While I didn’t sign up for a formal program, I am rewarded with discount options every time I shop. This past year they changed their program right before the holidays.

Discounts =Effective Sales Promotion Tool

Discounts are an effective Sales Promotion tool

They offer those of us who shop frequently (or too much) more benefits and savings. I was at a business lunch recently and we were discussing how we all did our holiday shopping. Two of us both immediately discussed our shopping at this one retail outlet (and the other person was a male). The others in the discussion had purchased most of their holiday needs on Amazon. They were sure they received the best pricing option. We both disagreed because the sales and our “discounts” were just that good.

To be perfectly honest, last year I did most of my shopping on Amazon. But this new program changed my behavior. Yes, their new program being announced just before the holidays in my opinion was a very effective sales promotion.

In addition, this is a perfect example of a combination of loyalty building and a successful discount sales promotion tool. I truly think of going there first because of the “deals” I get.

Provide Extra Value or Incentive

In my mind that is what a consumer-oriented sales promotion is supposed to do. Provide an extra value or incentive to encourage increased sales from existing customers and to attract new ones. My mother was in town during the holiday buying season and she doesn’t have this store in her area. After our shopping adventure and all the savings, she now says we have to go each time she is in town.

I know we would not have purchased some of the items if we hadn’t gotten the additional discounts, or at the minimum we would have bought one, not three. We were supposed to be shopping for others, but there were deals we just couldn’t pass up for ourselves.

Urgency increases the Buy Now mentality

They are also very good at in-store promotions. One of the reasons that I was attracted to the merchandise in the first place was the sign that indicated today only “take an additional 20% off” (which I could combine with my special discount).  As you can see, I like to think I’m getting a deal!

There are many types of marketing promotions that attract your customers to buy more now and at the same time help to expand your customer base.

Some top promotion tools include:

Free Samples or Trial – Most every food store offers free samples. I mean really, do you buy a car without a test drive? The same holds true with new or different food or beverages. Have you ever been in a Costco store on a Saturday afternoon? There is literally at least two tasting stations on every aisle!

People will definitely buy something new if the risk is gone. If they’ve tasted it and like it they will more than likely buy. Of course, it’s also the same with other consumer items, think perfume counters, that’s why they are always trying to “spritz” you as you walk by! And, what about free trial. I just joined a new workout gym after trying it for free for a couple of workouts. I doubt I would have joined without the free trial.

Extras Encourage People to Buy Now

Gift with Purchase – This is a great form of sales promotion that increases trial of new

Effective Sales Promotion Succeed in Getting you to Buy Now

products. You buy shampoo and you receive a sample of a new conditioner. Or you buy a pizza and they send along their new breadstick or dessert. Depending on what you sell I am sure you can come up with something that would encourage people to buy to get the gift.

I just bought make-up, now I knew I was close to being out of certain items, but the free gift did get me to buy sooner rather than later (and it’s not a brand that is exclusive to that store so who knows, I may have popped in somewhere else if I ran out).

Online and Traditional Coupons Work Together

Coupons –Coupons are still one of the most popular forms of consumer oriented promotion tools. Why? Because they work. Today, I think they may work even more because you can go online and search for a “good” coupon even while you are at the store! Consumers want to feel like they are getting a deal so a coupon helps that thought process. And if you have a customer in a store and you have coupon online (or also in the newspaper) and your competitor doesn’t – who do you think will get the sale?

Just be careful not to “over” discount so that your customers always expect your merchandise to be discounted. If that happens, then that becomes the new price. But if done correctly, coupons can be a very effective means of drawing in your existing customers and creating new customers that will buy now.

Buying Now Is Key

In-store promotions increases sales

The key reason for utilizing sales promotion is to encourage buying now rather than later. So, the promotion needs to be designed to show this is a limited time offer so the pressure is on to make a buying decision now rather than waiting.

Premium Promotions – A premium is just that – something more. The price remains the same but you get more product – 10% more detergent, dog food or beverage for example. This is still a discount but packaged differently so your customer doesn’t necessarily think of it as a lower price per item for the long term.

You Don’t have to Say Discount

Rebates – This is another way to not “discount” your product. A rebate is paid as a way of reducing the cost to the customer after the item has already been paid for. It can be an “instant” rebate taken at check-out, but it can also need to be mailed in with the receipt or barcode and receive a check or a prepaid card for the amount of the rebate.

This type of sales promotion incentive is particularly popular within the electronics and technology product fields. I just bought a sound bar for my TV at Costco, it had a $30 rebate taken at check-out. It’s the reason I bought that particular one.

In-Store Promotions – An in-store promotion is best when used in conjunction with your traditional and online advertising programs (as most sales promotions are). You can invite your customers into try a new service, receive a free gift, a special partnership with a complimentary business nearby, even a reduced price or rate for coming by. A perfect example is a spa – come in for a manicure and they have a special to include a pedicure for a special price. That particular promotion wins me over every time.

These are just a few examples of how you can encourage your customers to buy more now. Hopefully they will inspire you and help you to develop sales promotions tailored to your needs. The sky really is the limit if you put your thinking cap on!

Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More