Business

Motivate sales through promotion

Like any other marketing strategy, sales promotion needs to be given careful thought and planning.

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want your promotion to accomplish. Do you want to lure in new customers? Give current customers an incentive to come back for more? Encourage lapsed customers to give you another try? Or perhaps you want to boost business during the off season, slow business hours or on specific days of the week?

Once you have decided on the promotion’s direction, you have essentially picked your target group. You can now begin to develop a promotion that will appeal to their interests.

Perhaps it is a price discount or something with added value. Maybe it will be a trial offer or a sample that will entice them to make a larger purchase. One thing to remember though is that whatever you offer it needs to be compelling. A simple 10 per cent discount won’t do the trick in today’s current economy.

Price offers need to have substance yet you need to avoid going too far with those deep discounts that are often looked at with scepticism because in many cases the consumers just do not quite believe there isn’t a catch. Sales promotion must be above all transparent and believable.

When it comes to sales promotion techniques and tools, there are literally dozens and dozens of applications.

Along with price there are the loyalty programs that offer points or credits that can be redeemed for rewards that can range from discounts to merchandise to air miles.

Couponing, particularly in tough economic times, is always popular with consumers. Coupons are also a terrific way to analyse which medium gives you the best response rate. Is it print or on-line, direct mail or handouts at shows and events?

However, it is not as simple as counting coupons. You must also look at the offer itself and whether it was appropriate for the medium. Sometimes what works in one medium may not work in another.

Those who are in retail should be looking at a variety of ways in which you can grab the shopper’s attention. Everyone in retail should be familiar with point of purchase items such as shelf talkers, wobblers, danglers, aisle interrupters and neckers to name just a few.

Contests are always a good strategy to generate not only greater awareness but also provide an opportunity to create synergy with another company. Joint promotions not only give that added exposure but also can introduce your product or service to an entirely new base of potential customers.

Consumer sales promotion is only one aspect of what you might consider if you are looking to increase sales. Promotion can also be used to motivate sales staff, reward retailers in order to provide incentive to move your product or service. You can even use sales promotion to reward customers who refer friends and neighbors to buy from your company.

When thinking of promotional opportunities, do not forget your suppliers. Often you will find that they have dollars available to either help out with advertising or they may have trade allowances that can be used to help beef up stock purchases that can give your promotion greater flexibility.

Sales promotion is definitely one marketing tool that should be in every businesses tool kit. Handled properly with a well thought out plan that is incorporated with all your other marketing strategies, it can bring big rewards to help improve your bottom line.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca or visit his art website at www.joesmith.ca

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