Magazine article Marketing

Sales Promotion: Give and Take

Magazine article Marketing

Sales Promotion: Give and Take

Article excerpt

Giveaways can help you build brand awareness as sales promotion evolves into a strategic tool.

As any experienced sales promoter will tell you, there are three magic words in this industry: save, win and free. This is because promotions fit into one of three categories: saving consumers money, offering them the chance to win something or giving them something.

This band of words can now be expanded, according to Paul Ellison, promotional planning director at Geoff Howe. 'I would be tempted to add the words give and bid, because increasingly we are seeing promotions that ask consumers to give to a worthy cause or to bid for something,' he says.

Regardless of the precise words that a sales promotion uses to entice the customer, all campaigns fundamentally serve the same purpose: to influence consumer purchasing behaviour and, ultimately, lift sales. This can be achieved through a range of strategies, such as generating trial, encouraging loyalty and driving repeat purchase.

'Sales promotion is all about saying 'buy me, instead of the brand next to me', and rewarding the consumer for doing so,' says Ellison. 'It is a great differentiator in terms of the value it adds. The effectiveness of your sales promotion depends on the mechanic you use, and the way in which you communicate the proposition.' He adds that sales promotions work particularly well for brands in competitive markets, where rivals operate on the basis of similar product specification, availability and price.

The mechanics of the sales promotion trade are many and varied. They include coupons, competitions, giveaways, vouchers, sampling, instant-win scratch cards, gifts with purchase and prize draws. Those that guarantee the consumer will receive a reward for making a purchase tend to work better than those that offer merely a chance to be rewarded, but they are also more expensive to run.

Whatever method you choose, it is crucial that you communicate how the promotion works clearly and simply to your target audience. Geoff Howe recently ran a door-drop campaign for Kingsmill bread, which offered recipients a free trial of a loaf. Ellison attributes the activity's success to the simplicity of the offer and creative.

'A lot of people over-complicate sales promotion. Best practice is to use a good creative piece and keep it simple. Consumers have very little time. If it is complicated, they'll move on. Our Kingsmill promotion was very straightforward and redemption was way above average,' he says.

Although the medium has traditionally been perceived as a tactical tool to boost sales in the short term, savvy brands are now using sales promotion strategically. Aaron Martin, creative director of Arc Worldwide, cites his agency's 'Win a Ghost' promotion for Strongbow (see case study) as a prime example of how it is changing.

'It is essential that sales promotion is in line with the brand now,' he says. 'There has been a major shift in the perception of sales promotion. It used to be seen as a quick tactic to lift sales; now it is seen as a key part of the marketing mix and another string to a brand's bow.'

Less is more

Big brands such as Orange and Coca-Cola, both of which use sales promotion agency bd-ntwk, tend to do fewer promotions on a bigger scale, which are integrated with the brand's overall strategy. Both also back their promotions with significant above-the-line support.

This year, for example, Coca-Cola repeated its successful 'Win a player' promotion, where fans of clubs in the Football League can win a u250,000 transfer kitty for their club and u10,000 for themselves.

The activity was created in response to a brief relating to Coke's sponsorship of the League and how it could get into the hearts and minds of football fans, according to Allan McLaughlin, associate director at bd-ntwk.

'The Premiership has a much higher profile, but more people follow the league clubs. …

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