The Promotion Trends Report by Promo Magazine revealed that promotional marketing was part of an overall marketing strategy for over two-thirds of all firms. The line is blurring between advertising and promotions budgets. This signals a strong trend of businesses adding promotional marketing to their overall advertising budget.
Promotional marketing is a business marketing strategy designed to stimulate a customer to take action towards a buying decision. Promotional marketing is a technique that includes various incentives to buy such as:
- Contests: We all enjoy winning something for free. Contests offer an attractive marketing vehicle for small business to acquire new clients and create awareness. You don't need to run a billion-dollar giveaway like Pepsi, just a valuable prize to your target market.
- Coupons: According to CMS, a leading coupon processing agent, marketers issued 302 billion coupons in 2007, a 6% increase over the previous year. Over 76% of the population use coupons, according to the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) Coupon Council. Coupons still work and provide an affordable marketing strategy for small business.
- Sampling: Do free samples work? Giving your product away for free may seem profit limiting but consider the case of Seth Godin. Godin released a book called "The Idea Virus" in 2000. Unlike other authors, he did not charge for the book instead gave it away for free as an e-book. In less than 30 days over 400,000 copies were downloaded. This created a buzz about the book and even though free, people bought the hardcover; making the book #5 on the Amazon bestseller list.
Creating Powerful Promotional Marketing
Before starting a promotional marketing campaign for your small business take the time to carefully plan the incentives and objectives. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you planning to collect names as leads or discount an item as a loss leader to gain a larger customer base? Determine the reason for the promotion.
- Who is the target of your promotional campaign? Is it your competitor's customers or existing clients who have not made a purchase in the last 12 months?
- What incentive works best for your customer group? Coupons, sweepstakes or sampling?
- What is your available budget? Choose an advertising vehicle like direct mail, email, or in-store that will not exceed your promotional budget.
- Will you run the promotion in-house or hire an outside promotional agency? Choose in-house if you have a limited budget and time to learn more about promotional marketing.
- How will your business decide if promotional marketing is a success? Select a clear goal and do not forget to measure the results.
- Is your promotion in compliance with State and Federal laws. Promotional marketing incentives must comply with the law. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission states "when a "free" offer is tied to the purchase of another product, the price of the purchased product should not be increased from its regular price."
Any contests or sweepstakes offered by a company that requires a purchase to enter are illegal in the United States. Check your country or state government agency to make sure you comply with regulations and laws. The continued spending by small and large companies on promotional marketing is a clear indication that promos work. Apply promotional marketing to your small business and experience a sales boost.
Edited by Alyssa Gregory