Build Market Awareness with Promotions
A promotion is any event or action designed to increase awareness and purchase of your products and services. Promotions can be anything from sales, sales events, promotional items and more.
Some more common types of promotions include:
- Sales and discounts. Reducing the prices of your products and services temporarily or permanently can induce additional sales. Some methods of this include:
- Discounts on orders or sales over a certain amount
- Buy one, get one at a reduced price
- Free gifts with purchases
- Free or reduced cost shipping
- Point of Sale Promotions. Once a customer is in your store or on your website, work hard to help them understand the value of making additional purchases. Since marketing to new customers is typically six to seven times more expensive than marketing to existing customers, make sure you work hard to market to customers once they are in your store or on your website. Examples include product posters, aisle displays, in-store flyers, etc.
- Contests. Completed in-store, through advertising or online, contests are a great way to build a list of prospects and customers – as well as to gather contact information like email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses. Some contests will even generate publicity. One company sponsored an Independence Day contest for free tickets to a major league baseball game with fireworks by asking people to sign up on their website or in the store.
- Social media. Research shows that social media works well as to create and increase awareness and interest in your firm. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. each have unique applications for increasing communication to your prospects and clients. Consider posting material relevant to your business on your social media sites.
- Mail order. Today’s desire for ease in buying positions mail order as an effective strategy. Mail order can be achieved by shipping items from a physical store, through orders generated by paper catalogs mailed to homes and businesses, or through online stores.
- Customer referral incentives. Buyers like to share their positive experiences by referring others to your firm. Make it easy by providing referral cards – and then ask. When you request referrals, you receive four times more than when you don’t ask.
Incentives will generate even more referrals. Consider incentives that drum up additional business, such as a discount coupon for a future purchase, or packaging selected items or services.
- Causes and charity. The fastest growing promotion mechanism – linking purchases to a cause or charity – can also boost sales. Examples could include donating a percentage of the total sale to a specific charity; promoting an affiliation to a non-profit by asking for donations to that charity during a sale; and creating positive public relations about charitable event sponsorship.
- Customer appreciation events. Lending itself particularly well to service businesses, these events allow you to get to know your customers in a different, more social manner and increase loyalty.
- Customer surveys. Everyone likes to be asked their opinion. Surveys are a gesture to demonstrate to clients that you believe that their feedback is critical. Survey types include mail-in postcards, email links to survey forms, telephone calls, focus groups, etc.
- Memberships. Providing memberships to your business will build a community of like-minded individuals who bring in others. It also provides an easy method for you to promote your business and offer discounts to special groups. A retail store might offer a “membership” that accrues discounts. A service business might offer a membership allowing customers to access valuable information online at a website.
- Promotional Items. Promotional items are intended to enhance and extend awareness of your business or services. Most companies use items like shirts, caps, coffee mugs, note pads, umbrellas – in short, any item that is useful, not likely to be thrown away and can clearly display your logo or other branding. If you choose the right items, your customers can become walking billboards for your company, as long as they feel good about wearing or using the item.
As a by-product, all promotions should increase customer loyalty. In business terms, "loyalty" means a customer will buy… and then come back and buy again.
The three basic types of customer loyalty are:
- Purchased loyalty. A great example of purchased loyalty is a rewards program. You can also purchase loyalty through memberships, coupons, or rebates. Purchased loyalty occurs when customers are "paid" to be loyal. In many industries and market segments purchased loyalty is a great strategy. The problem with purchased loyalty is that customers can be "bought" from you by competitors. If a competitor offers a better deal your customers will start doing business elsewhere.
- Convenience loyalty. Some customers are loyal to you simply out of convenience. Convenience loyalty is great unless a competitor offers greater convenience.
- Service and brand loyalty. Real, long-term loyalty occurs when customers are satisfied and see no reason to buy from another company. For instance, some customers may be so happy with your services they cannot imagine shopping somewhere else. True loyalty is the holy grail of commerce and is what every business hopes to achieve.
Promotions help you engage customers and over time turn them into long-term, loyal fans of your company. Satisfy their needs and they may not be able to imagine doing business anywhere else.