Your sales trends may be softening, and your head of Sales is asking for help to get growth going again. Before you begin any work, start with strategy. Understand why sales are slowing, and then design a promotion strategy that addresses the root cause(s). Have you increased your pricing in the past year to recoup higher costs, so that your value is not as good? Do you need to attract new users, or is it simply an issue of getting current customers to buy more?
Here are the top strategies most brands need to consider. Increase sales; gain new users; build awareness; increase loyalty; improve price/value. Let’s take them one at a time.
There are a couple of ways to boost sales with promotions. The most common tactic is to issue coupons that provide a short-term discount. Coupons can be delivered via newspaper inserts, home delivered coupon books, at the store shelf via dispensers, on the product package, or via your retailer’s proprietary system. Most retailers now offer coupons digitally, often tied to having a store loyalty card or accessible via their website. The value of the discount needs to be compelling to bump sales. A savings of 5% probably won’t get it done. But unless the coupon can be targeted to only your best customers (who will generate a meaningful lift in volume), you likely will not want to go above a coupon savings of 20%.
Getting new users is more difficult and more expensive. In-store sampling is a time-tested way to put your product into the hands of consumers. The trick is how to ensure that those samples go to consumers who have not tried your product or have not purchased it in some time. One way to get around this issue is to leverage your retailer’s point-of-sale systems and print out a coupon for a free product on the shopper’s next trip to the store. Of course, there is slippage with this method, as many consumers do not remember to bring the coupon with them on their next trip to the store. A second option is to include a new product sample with the purchase of one of your top selling items—bonus pack, if you will. The challenge is to solve the manufacturing and operations issues by creating, distributing, and selling a bonus pack. You may find that option is simply not affordable and thus is problematic. A third method is to hire a professional service staffed to hand out product samples to shoppers in store. You can specify the type of consumer the professional samplers should target, but inevitably, you’ll receive broad-based product trial because any shopper can opt in to try a sample. Product sampling often triggers on-the-spot purchases.
With the high cost of traditional media, building awareness via promotion is a prudent path—particularly if you have a well-developed social media presence. If you have a new product or line extension, this can be a good way to let consumers know about the new news. In this case, it also works best if you can design and sell an in-store secondary display unit that is eye-catching and placed in a high traffic location. A short-term promotional savings plus the display can drive large increases in volume, while potentially attracting new users to your brand. Use similar graphics in your social media posts and content to enhance consumer awareness and recognition.
It is often said that keeping a current customer is far less expensive than getting a new one, so promotions that boost loyalty are an effective strategy. The trick here is knowing who your best customers are and having a way to provide them with a series of promotions that keep them loyal to you. Here again, your retail partners may be able to sell you that data and even deliver your offers to the customers that matter the most. Or you may have been able to build a high traffic website where your best customers have registered for exclusive offers and content only available to loyal users who opt in. That approach is by far the best in terms of ROI and building a relationship with your top customers. The days of requiring customers to save box tops or other proof of purchase takes too much work by consumers and does not move the needle.
Improving price/value via promotion tends to be costly. You must do things like offer a larger sized bonus pack with “20% FREE,” figure out a way to shrink wrap a bonus pack onto an existing product or insert a new flavor sample into a current item. Bonus packs can be an operations nightmare, so this tactic takes a lot of planning and testing before you introduce it to market.
Of course, the best way to improve price/value isn’t by means of promotion, but rather, to improve the quality of your product. You can use a temporary graphic burst to alert shoppers to product improvements. In time, better product quality may allow you to reach the point where you can claim product superiority over your closest competitor.
Here are some tips across the board when it comes to consumer promotions.
Make the savings meaningful enough to move the needle. But make the time period of the coupon or promotion short to drive urgency and control costs. If you offer a bonus pack, make sure that there are limited quantities, again to drive urgency and consumer action. Try to target your offers to your preferred target audience. A coupon that is available to everyone is expensive and may not achieve your goals. Lastly, do the math after the promotion concludes. Did you get the lift that you expected? Did you attract the new users that you had hoped for? You can extract this data from consumer registrations on your website or participating retailers may be willing to share register sales data with you. Were you able to sustain the promoted higher volume trend or at least generate an ongoing step up in volume sales? Or did sales revert back to norm post promotion? Did the revenue from the incremental volume more than offset the cost of the promotion? Did the math work, or do you need to retool your strategy for future promotion periods?
It is a jungle out there and promotions are heavily used. So, there is a lot of noise that you must do your best to overcome. That is where a top marketing strategy agency like Damen Jackson can help you. Keep you on brand strategy, get you focused on what promotions have the best chance of being successful. Challenge you for your best thinking. Bring the best promotion concepts to life. Help you do a proper post-mortem analysis of results and learnings.
At Damen Jackson, we have been there and done that. We thrive on helping clients get the biggest bang for their buck while staying keenly focused on being smart and nimble. We are here to be your partner, your conscience, your devil’s advocate—an extension of your team. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. How do we maximize the market opportunity for your brand, your business?
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