Sales promotion will attract new customers and clients and keep present ones, counteract competition, and take advantage of opportunities revealed by your market research.
Your promotional activities may include any or all of the following: word of mouth, networking, testimonials, the internet, trade shows, publicity, public relations activities, special “sales” (clearances, closing downs, holidays, etc.), contests and displays of products or promotional materials on the business premises.
Promotion requires ongoing planning and execution to accomplish the following:
Establishment of clear policies outlining pricing procedures, returns and adjustments rules, policies regarding the servicing of products, salesperson compensation and salesperson market responsibilities
Creation of a company image emphasising the competitive distinctions of the company, such as improved quality, faster service, lower prices and convenience
Staging of promotional activities and special events, such as individual product promotions, demonstrations, and showings at conventions and meetings.
Plan your promotions
Plan your sales promotion activities at the beginning of each business year and revise them during the year.
Base your strategies on market opportunities indicated by reliable market research, telling you what to promote, where to promote, and when to promote.
Decide what to promote by considering where the best profit opportunities lie and noting which market areas hold the greatest promise for development. Your promotion may also depend on products you want to move out of stock. A build-up of one product in stock may indicate a need for a special clearance to reduce stock to normal levels.
If your analysis of company sales shows that normal sales efforts are not penetrating certain areas of town, you may have to plan a special promotion to open up those areas.
Powerful sales headlines
You will need a powerful headline for your sale if you want to get people through your doors.
Here are some headlines that have proved to be successful.
- End of season sale
- Annual spring sale
- Annual summer sale
- Mother’s day sale
- Father’s day sale
- Super sale
- Christmas sale
- Buy 3, get 1 free sale
- 2 for 1 sale
- Pre-stocktake sale
- Back to school sale
- Dollar day sale
- Before Easter sale
- After Easter sale
- Tired of looking at it sale
- Birthday sale
- Annual clearance sale
- Factory direct sale
- End of season sale
- Name your price sale
- Overstocked sale
- We messed up sale
- Closing down sale.
The last one “closing down sale” is an interesting one. A business in Western Australia that was closing down decided to hold a sale. Initially, it just had the word “Sale” painted on the windows, without much success.
As soon as the wording changed to “Closing down sale”, sales tripled. Obviously people thought they would be getting a better bargain because the business was closing down.
Here’s another interesting thought, again from Western Australia. A clothing business regularly had the following sign out the front: “Better than a closing down sale”. “Better than” was in very small type. People didn’t read the small type and thought that the business was closing down. The business was really very successful.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth not only works, it’s inexpensive. For some businesspeople, it may not merely be the best or most efficient marketing tool, it may be the only one.
Many people base their buying decisions on other people’s references. Word of mouth is what people say about your business as they go about their daily lives. It happens when one friend tells another, “You should check out that new restaurant in the city. The food’s great!” It also happens in a negative way when another patron complains, “Stay away from that new place on a Friday. You’ll never get a seat!”
Though it may seem inconsequential, word of mouth can make or break your business. It carries an implied endorsement by the person who said it. When you have other people talking about your business, the things they say carry weight.
Word of mouth is based on one person’s respect for another person’s judgement. Even testimonials, word of mouth’s closest marketing relation, are different in several ways. Testimonials are usually in paid advertising, whereas word of mouth is unpaid and therefore more believable.
Few things are known about word of mouth, besides the fact that everybody can do it and it can be very powerful. The first rule of word of mouth marketing is to do what you would like people to say you do. In other words, it starts with good products and services.
Next, generate positive word of mouth by finding out who is already saying good things about you.
If you can identify a person who has sent you business in the past, then most likely they will send you business in the future. You can locate these people by asking new customers how they heard about you. When a name pops out, roll out the red carpet for that customer with a discount, freebie or extra special service.
Word of mouth marketing is most often relied on when budgets are a marketer’s chief constraint. For certain markets, word of mouth may always be the prime mechanism. Doctors rely heavily on word of mouth, partly because this profession has long frowned on advertising, but also because consumers tend to select professionals based on personal references. The same is true of hairdressers, beauticians, housekeeping services such as electricians, plumbers, pest control and other personal service providers.
Word of mouth isn’t the solution to every marketing problem. Speed is perhaps its biggest limitation. Compared to other marketing tools, word of mouth takes a long time to work.
A survey has shown that within three years it is possible to generate half of your business through word of mouth and this increases to a hundred percent over five years. It will certainly help during that period but should not be relied on as the only source of new business.
While you are busy planning your other marketing and advertising thrusts, word of mouth – if it remains foremost in your mind – will make sure you keep your eye firmly on the ball. Anything you do that brings people into contact with your products or services has the opportunity of getting them to speak well about you.
Word of mouth carries a special message of honesty and conviction because unlike any other marketing message, word of mouth is speaking from the heart.
If you want to generate good word of mouth, you have to be meticulous. Take personal responsibility for making sure every product you sell or service you provide is delivered exactly as specified.
Take full responsibility for any and all slip-ups regardless of who may be at fault. Get right on top of remedying the situation. When all goes well, credit your staff.
The power of networking
Networking is a powerful and indispensable tool for successfully marketing your products or services in today’s economically challenging environment. The level of your participation in the networking process may well determine the speed at which you build or expand your business and whether or not you stay competitive.
The positives of networking are numerous. By exchanging information, ideas, contacts and business referrals, you increase your client and referral base; obtain information about industry trends, trade associations and key people in the industries you’ve targeted; give and get valuable advice and moral support; find qualified employees, suppliers and professionals; and form long-term personal and professional relationships.
You can’t, however, network effectively until you know why and with whom you want to network. Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
What do I need to achieve my goals?
Who can help me?
Where and how can I make new contacts?
The answers to these questions will help you develop a personal strategic marketing plan, as well as a weekly or monthly networking action plan.
Determine the best places to meet potential customers, referral sources and industry experts. Trade associations, chambers of commerce, trade fairs and business conferences offer educational and networking opportunities. Join and become active in those groups that best fit your business goals or match your personal interests.
When attending events, make it a point to arrive early to circulate. Once there, use your time wisely. The following pointers should help you make a positive impression and achieve the results you want.
Act like a host (not a guest). Mingle with people you don’t already know, and initiate introductions. By making others feel welcome and comfortable, you will help yourself feel more at ease.
Create a positive first impression by being aware of how you look, how you sound, what you say and how well you listen. Prepare and practice a 25 – 30 word self introduction, indicating what you do and how your product or service helps people.
Ask others what they do and how you can help them. Offer to connect people who have mutual areas of interest.
Don’t monopolise people’s time or “hard sell”. Arrange another time to meet or speak.
Carry plenty of business cards with you at all times and keep them accessible. Write comments on the backs of cards you collect, noting where and when you met, commitments you made and any other observations. This will help you personalise your follow-up calls and letters.
Follow up in a timely manner with leads as well as with commitments you make to others. Send thank-you notes for referrals, resources and support.
Keep nurturing your network. There are many opportunities to keep in touch with people in your network, such as acknowledging birthdays, holidays and other special occasions; sending congratulations for awards or promotions; clipping and sending articles of interest; or calling just to say hello.
The most important resource we have in achieving our goals is each other. Through networking we empower ourselves and others to achieve dreams and turn visions into reality.