What Is a Sales Promotion?
The standard sales promotion definition is a short-term strategy that stimulates interest in a particular product and, in doing so, increases sales. Once the time-limited period ends, customers should be happy enough with your product to remain with your company and keep using your products and services, leading to loyal repeat consumers.
Plenty of reasons exist as to why you may want to use a sales promotion—and you will find many different sales promotion techniques to try out. You may need to experiment with what works for your particular niche until you find the correct strategy.
What Can You Achieve With a Sales Promotion?
The main objective of a sales promotion will always be to increase sales of a particular product. However, companies have multiple reasons to want a temporary increase in sales, including:
Creating a Market for New Products
Setting your product apart from competitor products can be challenging. The best way to launch a product is with high sales to generate interest and set your product up for success.
Keeping Your Competitive Edge
Your competitors will likely use short-term strategies to increase their sales. To stay competitive, you’ll need to do the same. In many instances, it’s better to get ahead of the competition by launching these initiatives first to get the most benefit from them.
Gaining Dealer Trust
Brand visibility is essential to foster both dealer and customer trust. One of the best ways to improve brand visibility is with increased sales of your most popular products, which will also help increase your supplier and dealer revenue. Combined, these should lead to better pricing and better relationships with everyone in your supply chain.
Expanding into New Markets
New markets can offer plenty of opportunities, but breaking into one can prove challenging. Smartly timed sales promotions can increase initial traction by attracting more customers and generating interest that you can sustain with longer-term marketing strategies.
Increasing Brand Awareness
Most customers make their purchasing decisions based on trust. Having a trustworthy brand is essential to long-term business success. Higher sales will increase brand awareness, and good sales promotions will make your brand seem generous, trustworthy, and accessible.
Retaining Existing Customers
If you’ve spent time nurturing a loyal customer base, short-term incentives can cement that loyalty while also increasing excitement around a particular product. These methods are crucial if you’re in a competitive industry where poaching is common.
Types of Sales Promotions
Sales promotions don’t necessarily need to target customers only. In many cases, sales promotions can target dealers, distributors, or agents to increase their shelf space for your product. Both types of sales promotions are effective at increasing revenue and building strong relationships with other parties. However, the strategies for these two types can differ, so tailoring your strategy to your target audience is essential for success.
The main reason to have a customer-oriented sales promotion is to attract new customers and reward existing customers to foster stronger loyalty to your brand. Many of these short-term sales promotion techniques pair well with longer-term marketing strategies to nurture long-lasting relationships with customers and develop a strong brand identity.
Some common consumer sales promotion ideas include:
- Free gifts
- Free samples
- Bulk purchase deals
- Free shipping
- Bundle discounts
As most of these promotions are short-term incentives, customers also experience time pressure. This subtle pressure can influence a customer’s buying decision and motivate them to buy your products.
Trade sales promotions don’t increase sales directly. Instead, they incentivize distributors, wholesalers, or retailers to give more attention to your products over those of your competitors. This prioritization will lead to more shelf space and better product visibility, leading to increased sales and a more substantial brand reputation.
Popular trade sales promotion techniques include:
- Trade shows
- Buying allowances
- Free point-of-purchase displays
- Push money
- Deal loaders
What Makes a Sales Promotion Work
Proper planning is essential for a successful sales promotion. By taking the time to lay the initial groundwork, you have a better chance of reaching the right customers, at the right time, with the right product.
Know Your Audience
The keystone of any marketing strategy is to understand your target audience better. While you can get away with marketing to a broad audience, many of your efforts will fall on deaf ears. By narrowing down your target audience to people who are already primed for your product or service, you ensure that you use your resources effectively.
Knowing your target market will also improve your sales promotion ideas. Understanding how people respond to your product can help you decide which strategy would be the best for your audience. For instance, if you sell a range of skincare products, you don’t want to send your 20-year-old target audience anti-wrinkle creams.
Set Measurable Goals
A sales promotion isn’t just about the immediate effects; it’s also about learning what marketing strategies work and which ones don’t. The best way to measure the success of a promotion is to see how well you’ve achieved your goals—which implies that you have to set goals in the first place.
Identify your most important objective first. Do you want to draw in new customers or focus on retaining existing customers? Do you want to increase the frequency of sales or what customers spend at one time? By understanding the underlying objectives, you can then decide on measurable goals that will show your progress towards the objective.
Ideally, you want a goal that’s ambitious but still achievable. Monitor your progress throughout the promotion to see precisely what works and what you will need to adjust for future marketing efforts.
Scarcity and time pressure are excellent motivators to persuade people to buy your product. All of us place a higher value on potentially scarce items, and we’ve all experienced FOMO—or the “fear of missing out.” Limited-availability or time-limited promotions tap directly into these psychological triggers, incentivizing people to buy.
If customers know that they can get your product at a deeply discounted rate for several weeks, they’ll happily delay their purchase until close to the expiration date of the deal. Limiting the deal to several days or hours will be a much stronger incentive, and customers will likely also buy more products to take full advantage of the deal and stock up for the future.
Promote to the Right Audience
If you’ve spent a lot of time developing your e-commerce sales promotion ideas, you’ll want the promotion itself to reach as broad an audience as possible. This means that you’ll have to promote your promotion for the best results.
You can use all of your regular communication channels to target the right audience, including email, blog posts, social media, your company website, and even print and in-store signage. Again, the type of promotion you do will depend greatly on your industry and target market.
One of the best ways to promote your promotion is with social media. Many people love free giveaways or samples and will share your promotion with their friends. If possible, contact an influencer or two to help promote your products directly and assist with promoting any ongoing sales promotions.
Offer Real Value
Customers are very good at distinguishing between real value and gimmick sales promotions. To get the best results, you need to offer your customers something they want and appreciate. A gimmicky, valueless promotion can do more harm than good by interfering with your brand image and destroying any trust you’ve spent so much time building up.
A sales promotion is a balancing act between what your customers want and what you can afford to give. Ensure that your promotion truly offers something that potential customers may want—and that you can afford it. If you can’t, try to scale it back while still retaining the value and appeal of a more expensive promotion.
To get a good idea of whether your customers will think a promotion offers good value, conduct a small survey with a representative demographic sample. Many focus groups love telling companies exactly how they feel about common retail sales promotion ideas.
Review and Adjust
A review session after the sales promotion is an excellent place to measure the results of the campaign. Compare how well you did against your initial goals and which aspects yielded the best results.
Always remember that any promotions need to be consumer-centric. As the barrier between companies and customers continues to shrink, your customer must have a seamless journey every time they interact with your brand. Having a personalized, valuable promotion is an excellent place to start.
Sales Promotion Examples
Buy One, Get One Free
Buy One, Get One (BOGO) is one of the most popular sales promotion ideas for retail, as it has plenty of benefits, including increased sales.
BOGO creates a sense of urgency while ensuring that customers feel that they have a great deal on a particular product. It’s an excellent way to eliminate excess stock while raising brand awareness and increasing consumer trust.
While it may seem that giving half your stock away will cost you a great deal of money, in many instances, BOGO promotions are almost free, as long as you price your items correctly from the beginning.
Service-based businesses can also run these types of offers to fill in classes or get more new clients during a slow season. Gyms can offer ‘buy one months’ membership, get two months’ type deals, while spas and salons can offer multiple sessions for the price of one.
Free samples work best for products that are easy to split up while still giving the whole experience, such as food, cosmetics, and aromatherapy products. Everybody likes to get free stuff, especially when it asks for minimal obligation on the customer’s part. If your product is enticing enough, you can rest assured that you’ll have a repeat customer who will likely give samples to all of their friends as well.
Food retailers like Costco and Whole Foods have garnered great success using free samples of new foods, while customers benefit from having various new and exciting treats to enjoy.
Loyalty programs are a reliable way to keep customers returning to your products or services. You can also leverage loyalty programs to run a sales promotion that can be a powerful motivator for existing customers while enticing new customers to sign up for your program as well.
A short-term bump in loyalty points, such as double or triple points for certain products, can be a strong incentive for customers to buy more of your products in a limited space of time. You can even give new customers a lump sum of points, encouraging them to sign up and buy as much as possible to get the best rewards.
Cashback promotions make customers feel like they’re getting their discounted price while also putting money away to buy something nice later. However, since you control the cashback credits, this promotion generates increased sales and cements customer loyalty. It’s a win-win for both companies and customers, at minimal cost to the business.
Lifestyle discounts apply to a certain demographic, such as students, seniors, or veterans. Many businesses offer continuous lifestyle discounts to earn the loyalty of specific demographics and improve their brand reputation.
However, you can also use strategic time-limited lifestyle discounts to drive sales for a particular demographic. For instance, student discounts are a great option during September, when they will have the most impact.
Customers are becoming increasingly cause-oriented and socially aware. You can leverage this by offering cause-related promotions, which will provide the benefits of an ordinary promotion while also improving your brand’s reputation.
Many customers don’t see cause-related promotions as a sales tactic, primarily since it benefits a particular charity. As such, charitable promotions are more subtle and more likely to produce an impact. However, you have to know your target audience very well to ensure that their interests align with your cause.
Strategic flash sales can hit the FOMO button of customers and create a lot of excitement and buzz around new and existing products. These very short-lived discounts are great for retailers and are among the best sales promotion ideas for e-commerce.
Since these deals will only run for a couple of hours or a day, you can offer significantly deeper discounts than usual, which will send sales of these products through the roof. You can choose to have either a set schedule, allowing customers to anticipate sales day, or have them once or twice a year as an exceptional offer. No matter what you choose, you need to ensure that your social media promotion is on-point to reach as many people as possible.
Free Shipping and Returns
One of the most significant pain points of a customer’s online journey is the checkout process, especially when adding shipping fees to their existing payment. Many people mentally budget when they see their cart total, and even a small increase for shipping can be a friction point that leads to cart abandonment.
That’s why free shipping and free returns are essential sales promotion activities for e-commerce sites. It’s a good idea to offer free shipping for an amount over a specific cart price, encouraging customers to make that one extra purchase to qualify for free shipping.
Joint promotions are inter-business agreements where two companies agree to offer combined sales promotions. Joint promotions are common sales promotion ideas for B2C, where many complementary companies exist that can add value to another company’s products.
Examples of joint promotions include offering free coffee when you open up a bank account or getting a discount at a car wash after spending a certain amount at a hardware store.
Google My Business Posts
A Google My Business listing is an essential component of any marketing strategy, no matter how big or small your business. It’s also one of the best sales promotion ideas for B2B, as it allows you to target your customers directly. One of the most valuable aspects of the listing is that you can run your promotions directly on the site, targeting already interested audiences in your promotion.
Google My Business allows you to create four types of posts, including:
The ‘Add Offer’ option allows you to set up the promotion with a start and end date, ensuring consistency between sales promotions. Once you’ve put up the post, anybody searching for your business or similar product or service providers will see your listing with the promotion front and center.
Using the right sales promotion strategies can dramatically influence your short-term sales. However, you need to use suitable techniques for your industry, business, and target audience. If you’re still feeling stuck for relevant sales promotion activities, why not give us a call at Gold Promotion? We’ve helped hundreds of companies take their marketing efforts to the next level, and we can do the same for you. Find out how far you can go with Gold Promotions by giving us a call at 800-476-3094 today!
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