New and growing businesses are, in marketing terms, growth brands. Promotion acts as an investment activity for future growth and profits.
Any promotional activity will pivot around trial, although it is important to remember that trial is only temporary and repurchase, or loyalty, will depend on how the consumer perceives the product.
Repurchase levels and the consequent success of the product or service will depend on how effectively the trial is carried out as well as the customer's perception, through trial, of the product.
If your business is an entirely new or re-launched product, it is important to manage your expectations before committing enormous budgets to promotional activity.
For example, however innovative your product is, the first into the market tends to get the biggest market share. Do not expect too much, particularly in the short-term.
Another fundamental factor is the environment in which you wish to promote. When putting together a promotional strategy, objectives can only be established in the context of the market. Foremost here are customer dynamics.
- Who do you want to promote to?
- What do they want?
- Why do they buy competitors' products or services?
- Similarly, where do you want to pitch your product or service?
- What about your competitors?
Other considerations may include any supply limitations, distribution issues, and the possibility of micro marketing: perhaps it is worth testing the activity on a regional basis.
Matching techniques to objectives
Broadly speaking there are four promotional techniques that attract target customers to participate:
- Free Gifts
- Emotional Benefits
Each of these devices acts to entice the consumer in a slightly different manner and can be implemented in a number of ways.
Price promotions are an excellent means of generating trial and loyalty as well as increasing volume of purchase and getting consumers of competitor brands to change to yours – brand switch.
A word of warning – prize promotions are legally complex and you should always seek professional advice. The main difference between competitions and free prize draws is that competitions may request a proof of purchase and free prize draws have to be no purchase necessary.
By definition, a competition has to incorporate an element of skill such as questions and a tiebreaker to complete. Instant win promotions are technically free prize draws, which is why the small print will always offer customers the chance to participate without purchasing the product in question.
Despite these complexities, instant win promotions are an excellent call to action and proven drivers of trial, brand switch and often, awareness. Equally competitions and free prize draws are tried and tested ways of encouraging customers to pick you product.
Promotions using emotional benefits or image are harder to define. Key emotional techniques include sponsoring an event such as the Olympics, linking up with a charity and character licensing activity.
The promoter will benefit from the transfer of the qualities associated with the chosen partner and may well gain additional media coverage.
This sort of activity is best suited to image building and brand awareness, which is why it will often run alongside another of the techniques described above – such as including a competition prize linked with the promotional partner.