With Effectiveness Week 2016 starting on Monday, 31st October, Alan Lewis of PHL explores what goes into creating an effective promotion
Effectiveness is described as the degree to which something is successful in producing the desired result. In the world of marketing, and, in particular, promotions, this means making a difference to sales or customers perception when building a brand.
A promotional campaign that can appeal to a consumer’s sense of a good deal or value for money will generally be effective. If the outcome of this is combined with increased loyalty or a greater uptake of the product, the promotion could become legendary.
So what is it that makes a campaign effective and how best to achieve the desired outcome? A goal to increase sales needs to be more specific – i.e. how many, over what time period and what about repeat business and the legacy of the promotion? Ensure that you fully understand why you are running the promotion.
Objectives and targets
Of course, we all know a successful campaign should have a clear set of objectives and targets; but also consider the activity in the context of modern consumers and competitors. Is the activity too wild, too boring, and too traditional or off message? Have similar campaigns over or under delivered? What is the competition planning?
Don’t underestimate the challenger brands and what are they doing that could lead to industry disruption. How can you use technology to stream-line and simplify the campaign for consumers? Ask your partners what they have seen work and what trends they have noticed in the industry.
Today, Social Media can affect the uptake of a promotion enormously – how do you broadcast to inspire participation and amplify the activity? As always, expect the unexpected; if the campaign goes viral the uptake could increase enormously. Can you apply a brake if this happens or do you have contingency budget to take advantage of the momentum?
Timing is key to effectiveness
Timing is essential so make sure all suppliers understand the importance of dates and build in flexibility. Keep this up your sleeve, however! Let suppliers know of potential penalties if they fail to deliver on time and who will bear these additional costs. Clearly state key dates and how performance will be measured throughout the promotion; a Critical Timing Plan would work well to inform all parties involved.
Clear, unrestricted communication should be your goal when working with third party suppliers, so set up short conference calls with a clear agenda to review the promotion at regular intervals. Should something go wrong remain calm. Most issues can be rectified so don’t shoot from the hip scattering blame – find the solution with your promotional partners.
How can the promotion make a real difference and was the desired effect achieved – how do you plan the desired effect? Before launching a promotion are you totally clear on the desired outcome and how it will make a difference? Have you investigated the result of similar pieces of work – is the campaign a new cutting edge idea, a rehash of past work or perhaps a good old standard?
Test and test again
Consider testing, see through the consumers’ eyes, listen, be prepared to change or enhance the activity if a great suggestion comes to light and it is affordable. In summary, don’t leave it to conjecture, to assumptions and to what YOU think will happen.
To that effect, consider the key message of the promotion and the brand being built or sustained. Is the message on-brand? Again, test this with consumers where possible. A clear, simple communication will help consumers understand and engage with the offer. If it reinforces the brand story, then it will be doubly impactful.
When organising promotions, marketers are often advised you to involve their supplier partners early – but why is that? Just to help them or to really make the spend count? The answer is that it should immeasurably improve the quality of the promotion.
Working as a team
Your handling house should work with you as your partner as well as a service provider. Talk to them initially so they can gain an understanding of the promotional mechanic. Then share ideas and think about what is really needed to work together. Remember, most service partners have seen many campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful. Ask them for their input and considerations based on their knowledge and understanding of consumers.
Plan key dates, such as arrival of stock; set a target to turn around applications; set out how to respond to queries.
Build in measurement and key performance indicators at the start of a campaign. This will give you agility if things go wrong, but also allows you to capitalise when things go right. A good supplier will help you implement these measures and even suggest a few you may have not considered. You can turn a negative into a positive with a responsive model, being responsive to consumer concerns efficiently.
If you are offering premiums, continuously analyse the promotion to ensure stock will last for the duration. Rushing in small top-up quantities can really eat through a budget and can lead to extended lead-times for consumers.
Consider using a fixed fee provider to protect your budget and minimise delays.
The days of 28 days to supply are long gone – this is an instant world so getting premiums to consumers as quickly as Amazon does is important. Sure, save some money on shipping; but let the consumer know it is on its way – text to inform of progress or send an email saying the items shipped and giving its Estimated Time of Arrival.
Plan your key press releases and Social Media activities. Make sure staff are reviewing comments and, if any negativity appears, that a polite and informative response is quickly approved and released.
In summary, working with all elements of the supply chain will help the activity succeed. Make sure the partners have the whole picture and that they understand each other’s roles. Broadcast this information early so that your partners can offer suggestions based on their experience of previous, similar activities. Work on your budget to ensure funds are available at the critical points – i.e. if importing, VAT and other duties will be due at the dockside.
Legal, decent, honest, truthful…
Oh, and don’t forget to get your T&Cs checked by an expert, not just to ensure their legality but also to logic check that the activity cannot be inundated by applications from non-customers.
Overall, the greatest promotions are win-win. The consumer gets a good deal, the brand benefits and everyone in the supply chain wants to repeat the experience.
With planning, open and timely communication and encouraging feedback from all partners, your promotional activity will have the greatest chance of success!
Alan Lewis is Managing Director at handling and fulfilment company Promotional Handling Ltd.
Effectiveness Week is a not-for-profit initiative with the goal of educating, inspiring and galvanising change within the marketing industry. A collaborative programme encompassing the scope and knowledge of 13 industry associations (AMEC, BCMA, CIMA, CMA, DMA, IAB, ICCO, IPA, ISBA, MRS, ESA, IPM and the Marketing Society) and their respective memberships, this year will see 50 different events across five days. A full list of what’s going on is available on the Effectiveness Week website at www.effectivenessweek.com/.