Much of the work of modern marketing is creating and identifying leads. This is all well and good, but often times companies just can’t wait for the cultivation process to unfold naturally. That’s when they step in with techniques designed to stimulate both lead generation and sales. All of this falls under the broad umbrella of promotions. Promotional techniques are designed to give consumers an incentive to act sooner rather than later; or often within a designated time period. This, of course, is one of the fundamental missions of sales, to get prospects to accelerate the purchase and buy on your schedule rather than theirs; I can fairly say that I’m going to buy a car at some point in the future, but the car sales person wants me to buy that car within the next three months. Promotions are how brands get consumers to change their timetable by presenting them with an incentive to act now. Promotions include offers around price, content, service and other value add-ons.
Promotional tactics - an incomplete list:
- Discounts - discounts can be time specific, while supplies last or just sales priced.
- Vouchers and coupons – time-limited, online, in store, in publications, email.
- Finance deals – discounted financing or no payments until…
- Buy-One-Get-One-Free (BOGOF) – two for one.
- CRM offers – feeding loyalty with bonus points or coupons.
- Free shipping – or faster shipping - can be tied to a transaction minimum amount to protect margins. Both are an incentive to act now.
- Free returns – can be tied to free shipping or stand alone. You can incorporate the cost into the price.
- Flash sales – all about a very short limited time. According to Monetate 50% of purchases happen within the first hour of flash sales.
- Branded gifts – a free pen flashlight with every purchase over $100. Limited quantities.
- Price match – a powerful promise that takes the price risk out of the equation.
- Holiday promotions – a great excuse to all promotions. Less potential for damaging brand price integrity.
- Competitions and sweepstakes, in any channel, plus on packaging in-store.
- Cause-related - raise money for charities and causes with or without purchase.
- Free samples - sampling at events or high traffic locations.
- Promotional tie-ins – fast-food restaurants give away movie toys with kid meals.
There are many other promotional ideas, of course, and this is an area that lends itself to creativity. The idea is always to find new ways to stand out for short periods of time and spike sales. Promotions, however, can be a trap. Used occasionally on top of branding and cultivation strategies, promotion is effective. Used too frequently promotions can quickly devalue a brand and shift a value proposition from value to price; usually a dangerous commoditization trap.