Why Use Sales Promotions
Whether your business is service or retail, online or bricks and mortar, getting your customers to return and be loyal is usually more profitable than attracting brand new ones. If people already know and trust your products or services, they are likely to feel comfortable spending their hard-earned cash with you. The problem is that in noisy and crowded marketplaces, getting your voice heard can sometimes be quite hard. This is particularly true if you have an online business, and the customer originally came via a third-party platform such as eBay or Etsy for example. Sometimes, it is hard for customers to remember exactly where they bought that special something from. They just go and Google for similar and there’s a danger, they end up at your competitor’s site or store.
Sales promotion has been around for a long time, and it is a tried and tested marketing technique. Remember that what you do should add value to your brand and, unless you are a discounter, it is good to consider options to engage customers that aren’t just about money off which can devalue your image.
Promotions come in many shapes and sizes. You can offer customers something extra when they spend over a certain amount, this could be free delivery, or it could be an additional product or service thrown in. You might consider offering customers a small chance to win something big, with the incentive being that the more often they come, the more they increase their chance of winning.
Whatever mechanic you employ, what matters is that your customers know that there is an activity in your business. It is essential that you have direct communication with your existing customers. The most straightforward way to do this is by collecting their email address at the point of purchase and ensuring that you get them to opt-in for hearing from you in the future. Once you have their permission, you can send them regular communications advising them of what is happening and get them to come back directly to you and not get distracted elsewhere. Making sure that you have a good social media presence is also essential and it is an easy way to make sure that you keep your offering fresh and exciting.
Keep your offering fresh
So just as you bring in new products and services, you need to make sure that your potential customers know what you are offering. You can do this by posting regular updates featuring pictures and videos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (or whatever social media you use). You can use your email marketing list to let your signed-up customers know your latest news.
A very good example of this is how online gambling sites work. Essentially, you could think that a virtual slot machine is just that. However, players love variety and new content, so the platforms create new games and themes all the time. They let their customers know about the best new slots and offer them bonus codes to try out the gameplay. In essence, the idea is to make your site or premises ‘sticky’ ensuring that people come back and spend with you.
Another great technique is to create a loyalty scheme. This can be as complicated or simple as you like. A big Supermarket might do this digitally when you spend at the till, but it could be as simple as a rubber stamp on a collector card that fits in someone’s wallet. The fashion industry is a master of reinventing itself and bringing you back for more. If you have an online shop, you get your web developer to create a points scheme.
Lucy and Yak have a great scheme for their customers. You earn loyalty points when you shop but you can also get bonus points for signing up to a mailing list, liking them on Instagram, or recommending a friend. By feeling part of their community, you are rewarded with a voucher that can only be redeemed on their website.
Sales promotion is all about building relationships and getting more traction with your customer base. It should always feel like a win-win situation if you get your messaging right. One mistake that many companies make is that they focus all their efforts on attracting new customers and forget about their existing ones. The most successful businesses make sure that their customers feel special. This could be as simple as sending out a special offer on someone’s birthday or offering something that is personal to them.
Making Money-Off Promotions work for you
There is a time and place for money-off promotions, but it is important to consider that if you are continually offering discounts, customers may be reluctant to ever pay full price. They will always be waiting for the next email that offers them x percent off their purchase. It is, of course, possible to make offers exclusive to particular products that you want to push rather than a general discount off the whole basket. You may want to partner with one of the large online aggregators such as Honey Gold so that your offers are seen by people who subscribe to this service. It is a browser extension that constantly searches the internet for the best offers that are available and applies the discounts when the purchaser clicks through to their shopping cart. This could be a fantastic opportunity if you want to promote a slow-moving line or new product or service. However, there is a danger that you would be offering a discount to a customer who was going to pay full price and just happened upon the coupon code. As long as you have budgeted sufficiently for this, it may not be a problem as it can leave the customer with a warm feeling when they get an unexpected discount.
The Law and Code of Conduct
If you are running promotional offers, make sure that you are complying with the laws and codes of practice in the country or territory you operate in. You will need to make sure that you clearly state what the terms and conditions of your promotion are. Remember to print an opening and closing date together with any restrictions to the offer (e.g., only one voucher can be used with each purchase, or discount only applies over a certain spend). You can find a summary of what you need to include by visiting an industry site such as the ASA. Remember any promotion must include the promoters name and address