chris baldwin

The golden rule of successful promotions: know your customer

Chris Baldwin, Director of Consumer Promotions and Loyalty at Sodexo Engage, details the keys to success when running consumer promotions.

There are hundreds of thousands of brands out there, all fighting for the attention of the same key audience: loyal and dedicated consumers. It’s a tall order to be at the forefront of these customers’ minds 24/7, but many brands have learned that creative, well-timed consumer promotions can certainly help.

There’s one important caveat to remember though: a brand can only run a successful promotion if it has a solid, consistent identity. And it’s easy to see why. It’s much easier to develop a sense of loyalty among consumers if a company has a well-established image and ethos. Just think about the reverse for a second: a brand that’s constantly changing its look and feel will clearly struggle to retain the same audience time and time again.

Know your audience

Building a strong brand is only half the battle when it comes to successful promotions though – companies also need to keep up with their customers’ fast-changing preferences and demands. Today’s consumers are far less predictable than they used to be and now expect much more from the brands they interact with. This combination means that businesses have to work harder than ever before to create promotions that resonate with their target audience.

On top of this, the astronomical rise in social media adds yet another element to the mix. Over the last five years alone, the number of Facebook users worldwide has jumped by a huge 1.14 billion. With this rapid growth comes huge opportunities for brands to develop new kinds of promotions. For example, it’s now easier than ever for customers to enter competitions via social media. This shift not only gives the customer a chance to win a prize that they value, but also encourages them to share the company’s social media content far and wide; a win-win for both sides.

Brands should be careful of going exclusively digital though. There’s still a lot to be said for simple on-pack and money off promotions. It goes back to knowing who the company is trying to target. Older generations are often more likely to go for promotions that offer them a high value reward, but far less chance of winning. By contrast, smartphones have conditioned younger generations to expect immediate gratification, so they’re more likely to go for an easy entry, instant win option.

Know your promotion

Even with all of this knowledge to hand, implementing a successful promotion can still be a tough nut to crack. Consumer behaviour will continue to change and evolve at a rapid pace, so it’s essential to stay on the front foot. By constantly gathering and updating information about their customers, brands can make sure they have the information they need to offer engaging experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

 For their part, brands need to be very clear on the purpose of the promotion itself. Is it to increase customer loyalty, change buying habits or to boost sales? The answer to this question will have a major impact on how the promotion is run. For example, encouraging customers to share their own content via social media may help to boost a brand’s followers, but offering a discount for this activity could influence buying behaviour more directly.

Whatever promotions retailers choose, in today’s market there’s no room for bland and boring. Consumers can be a fickle bunch and lose interest in the blink of an eye. The good news is that brands can keep them engaged by making the whole process quick and easy and by making the vast majority of promotions ‘win-able’ in order to draw the highest amount of attention.

Know the latest trends

The more a brand knows about its target customer, the more it’ll be able to create a promotion that hits all the right notes. Engaged and happy customers click more, buy more and shout louder about a good deal. These are the people who will really sell the promotion and boost the brand – often without even realising it.

In an increasingly digital world, this means exploiting social media and the smartphones that are seemingly glued to every customer’s hands. When people have come to expect instant replies and answers, immediate gratification is an attractive prospect when it comes to promotions too. If a brand knows its customer inside out and makes promotions relevant, engaging and easy to enter, they can’t go too far wrong.

Founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo is the global leader in services that improve Quality of Life, an essential factor in individual and organisational performance. Operating in 80 countries, we serve 75 million consumers each day through our unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services.

Part of the Benefits and Rewards division, here in the UK Sodexo Engage specialises in employee and consumer engagement, with over 50 years’ heritage in creating award-winning experiences. From growing employee culture and inspiring success in workplaces, to driving consumer engagement with brands, Sodexo gives businesses the tools to create lasting change through transforming behaviours, engagement and performance in people. They believe in bringing people and business together through creativity and excellent service, with their long-standing mission of improving the quality of life of everyone they work with.