How to Use Sales Promotion to Re-Engage and Retain Customers

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The Dilemma; How To Establish Your Brand Image and Induce Trial

I had the great experience of working for one of the most well-know brand names within its category. The job of building brand awareness was established over the 30 years before my arrival. So when I applied my knowledge about sales promotional techniques to quickly drive sales to achieve marketing objectives, results were immediate and significant.

Establishing your brand in the mind of the consumer while stimulating purchase action is a balancing act
Establishing your brand in the mind of the consumer while stimulating purchase action is a balancing act

Eventually I was elevated to running a department that launched new products and market segment on the backbone of the established brand’s awareness, by continually motivating consumers to take action launching campaigns that combined brand image and promotional offers.

The gold in sales promotion offers are that they are short-termed and designed to motivate an immediate action, The potential downfall is that we also have to balance brand awareness, so consumers will know what your brand is all about and want to take advantage of your offer.

Principals of Customer Acquisition and Retention

“The purpose of business is to create and keep customers” a simple, yet powerful quote by the famous Management Consultant, Peter Drucker.images-2

Customer Retention definition is: the activity an organization takes on to reduce customer defections. Successful customer retention starts with the acquisition phase and continues through the entire lifetime of the customer relationship.

Many small business and non-profits I work with have a deep passion for their cause or product. In addition to being passionate about something you love to do, we all need to focus on the reason we are in business, customers.

So here is the simple truth.  The objective of any business is to:

  • Attract New Customers
  • Increase Brand Awareness
  • Increase Sales Among Established Customers

The Great Brand/Sales Promotion Balancing Act

It has been established that too much sales promotion activity can create an imbalance. Consumers may begin to perceive your product as the bargain brand. They may wait for the next promotion to benefit from the never-ending stream of discounts that they have been trained to use.

When I worked for the established brand the companies’ leaders knew what our goals were and how to achieve them.  Our marketing team was organized around the 3 principles of customer acquisition and retention.

Customer retention efforts expanded small business customers into other product segments by offering sales promotional offers
Customer retention efforts expanded small business customers into other product segments by offering sales promotional offers

The attraction of new customers phase was done through my department, New Business and Segment Development.

The Advertising Department continually promoted brand image through brand campaigns. They were also the brand image gatekeepers, providing direction for the entire organization on how the brand’s image was to be presented.

A Customer Relationship Department was established to continually segment established customers by usage patterns to send sales promotional offers to expand engagement, introduce different products and prepare customer behavior models to loop back to the New Product Development function.


A Small Business Segment Launch

Here is an example illustrating the process. The Product and Segment Development department launched a small business product, to a previously untapped segment of 4 to 20 employee sized companies. To do this we created a bundled package that cleverly balanced the brand image and sales promotion mix.

Through direct marketing channels we established the brand identity and introduced a new product that offered premier status, expedited services, and a a free trial coupon to get started. Consumers were required to enroll, giving the company the ability to track individual activity and purchase patterns. The strategy worked like a charm. The offer was simple and easy to use. The customer got immediate value and we created significant revenue among an untapped market.

The added benefit was that the customer relationship department was able to introduce established products to these new customers, over time, using promotional offers to expand the customer engagement.

The theory that brand relationships are built through identifying and creating new value with individual customers over the lifetime of the customer relationship was working.  The whole structure depended on a sophisticated and ongoing tracking and communication scheme, that continually connected with the customer to satisfy his or her changing needs,  based on an elaborate predictive modeling system.

Applying The 3 Principals to Non-Profits and Small Business

The most difficult thing I encounter working with small businesses and non-profits is balancing brand message with sales and sales promotion.

Businesses and non-profits are often blinded by passion about their product and don't focus on customer's changing needs
Businesses and non-profits are often blinded by passion about their product and don’t focus on customer’s changing needs

I am working with a non-profit that is passionate about their mission in the world. When I asked what ‘promotional materials’  donors receive for their contribution the answer was “knowing that they have done a good deed should be enough.”

For many donors that may be fine, especially if they are looking to give a one-time donation. However getting into the minds and hearts of different donor segments and understanding their motivation to participate, is where retention efforts begin.

Now, this non-profit organization asks why people give. From this simple change in donor engagement new segments of potential donors have been identified and targeted.

Every donor is sent a package of products such as an ebook about the cause, results and direction for the future, and materials they can forward on to others to spread the word. A CRM system was purchased to stay in contact with the donor base, and a newsletter is emailed to keep the relationship ongoing.

A B2B service business I work with has initiated a monthly account review email process as a customer retention strategy. They review activity and share sales promotional offers to provide other services based on each clients individual needs that they have identified through engagement. Client retention has increased and they have expanded the amount of new services provided within their client base.

Give Your Customers What They Want

How can you increase relationships and develop marketing campaigns directed at customers to expand engagement, and use this knowledge to create new customer segments?

On the basic level a customer may be defined as someone who needs your product and is willing to pay for it.

To build retention, the customer definition could be expanded to ‘someone who has a unique and emotionally positive experience with your brand which they will repeatedly pay for.’

Understanding customer needs, and providing incentives to expand customer engagement takes on many forms. Remember to stay conscience about the 3 objectives of customer engagement, and be creative on how to motivate purchase action by balancing the brand message with promotioal offers when opportunities arise.




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