Second in a two-part series. Read Part I.
When I started Gossett Marketing 22 years ago, my focus was on designing custom products and incorporating them into sales promotion programs. My prior experience had been in the advertising and corporate marketing world and I had done a number of very successful sales promotions. I thought it would be a great niche. And, while I had some success, those of you who are familiar with the custom product world know that production times can be quite lengthy. So my revenue looked like a rollercoaster with continuous ups and downs.
As time went on I developed a small group of consistent clients but soon realized that to have long-term success I would need to expand my services. Luckily, at about the same time, my clients started to ask, “Can you help me with a giveaway for a trade show?” or “Can you find me a turn-down gift for a convention group?” Of course I said yes and joined the wonderful world of being a promotional products distributor.
But, given my marketing background, I wasn’t satisfied to approach promotional products like everyone else seemed to be doing at the time. I was shocked when I would walk into clients’ offices and they would have a stack of product catalogs next to their desks. Why? Searching for products was not their job. Was it? I wanted to understand their needs, their markets and their expectations so that I could provide meaningful suggestions.
And yet, clients would call and say, “I need a thousand throw-away items for a trade show,” Really? You just want them to throw them away? So I usually responded, “If you just want them to be thrown away, why not just give me the money and we’ll pretend you did something.” That of course always gave them pause. And it would provide me with the opportunity to educate them on the value that the right promotional product could bring to their business.
You see, everything my clients do needs to extend their brand image no matter how small they believe the event or opportunity to be.
Last month’s part one of this series reviewed the how-to’s of developing a sales promotion and shared ways you can become an even more valuable partner to your clients. As a reminder, a sales promotion, by definition, is a short-term incentive to encourage and offer the customer a reason to buy today versus at a later date. Of course, promotional products are a key component of many sales promotion programs. So, becoming the sales promotion expert for your clients isn’t that difficult and will give you an opportunity to consistently bring them new ideas and ways to promote their brand to their customers and prospects.
How can a promotional item further help your clients get their customers to take action now?
Some of the examples shared last month included value-added promotions, surprise gift rewards and social media efforts.
This article will take a more in-depth look at some of the other sales promotion approaches so you can judge for yourself how easy it is to grow your sales while helping your clients grab more short-term sales with sales promotions.
Gift With Purchase
We all love getting something for free. I’m sure you’ve had this situation: You are interested in a particular product or service, but can’t decide which one to buy. Then you see the magic words: “Free gift with purchase.” That tips the scale by making you feel the potential risk of choosing that product or service is definitely worth the reward because of the promise of a free gift.
We’ve all experienced the big brands that offer a free gift with purchase. Think about the department store cosmetic counter offers. How many free cosmetic or utility bags have you received for purchasing a specific make-up or aftershave? I know I have many. You may think you don’t have any clients who are convinced that a gift with purchase would work for their market, but you will if you position it to them as a means to increase their sales now.
Looking for a potential market for the gift with purchase idea? Think about all the different types of travel-related businesses in your area: travel agents, hotels, rental cars, resorts and more. A gift with purchase in that market works in this way: Book with the local travel agent and get a free travel wallet; book a resort stay and get a free beach bag, or book a cruise and get a free robe. I used the latter promotion recently to introduce a new itinerary for a cruise line and my client got a tremendous response.
A Thank-You Gift
An alternative is to give a gift as a thank-you for a donation. Think about all the nonprofits in your community that are trying to raise money. I attended a luncheon recently to honor some of our area nonprofits and was amazed at how many organizations serving the community were unfamiliar to me.
How many times have you donated to a worthy cause and received a free t-shirt or tote bag? I recently donated to a cause not expecting anything in return, and lo and behold a week later I received a portable water dish for my pet (it was a pet rescue charity). This charity used the thank-you gift as an opportunity to ask for another donation and tell a story about a specific need. So the “gift” was a means of contacting me again with the hope that I would respond to their plea for more donations (I did).
Not only are nonprofits a good target for donation thank-you gifts, but at this particular event, most of the nonprofits had a tabletop filled with logoed items that they gave out to remind attendees of their needs after the event. It was an excellent way to target donations.
You can also take the gift-with-purchase idea another step further. What about combining two of your non-competing clients for a joint promotion? Maybe you have a bookstore and a cookware shop as clients. Customers who buy a cookbook at the bookstore can get a free basting brush with the cookware shop’s logo. Likewise, those shopping at the cookware shop could get a bookstore-branded journal to catalog their recipes. It’s a win-win. And of course, each shop would promote the other for all sales with something as simple as a self-standing counter card.
Another example of a joint promotion is a local car dealership partnering with a local entertainment attraction. The promotion could be as simple as an offer to test drive a new car and get free or discounted tickets to the attraction, plus a free cap, tote or something else relevant for use at the attraction. Both companies would advertise the promotion.
Our state fair recently held a similar promotion, and a friend of mine decided he wanted to take a group of kids to the fair. With the discount offered, it was worth his while to go to the car dealer for a test drive. Amazingly, he decided to trade in his car and get a new one on the spot. Granted, you don’t always get such an immediate result, but it does happen.
As you can see, a “free” promotional gift with a purchase or a donation can be used in quite a variety of sales promotions.
Another effective sales promotion you can explore is running a sweepstakes. Yes, you need to be careful with the rules and regulations, but a sweepstakes is an excellent way to get your client’s branded promotional products into the hands of potential customers. In a sweepstakes, prizes are given by the luck of the draw from those who participate, and participants have to do something to win.
As I said earlier, people love getting something for free, and research suggests that combining a higher-valued prize with multiple lower-valued prizes brings in a larger number of participants. You could offer the free use of a new car for a year as the grand prize, and have 100 free trunk organizers or auto safety kits as second prizes and 100 valet key chains as third prizes. This kind of promotion not only appeals to car dealers but to car repair shops and tire stores, too. This type of promotion attracts high interest among customers because they believe they have a greater chance to win something than if only a grand prize is offered.
A sweepstakes can work for most businesses, think spas, resorts, plumbers, tire shops, home design or gift shops, cookware shops, pet stores or just about any retail operation. For example, the spa could offer a free massage a month for a year as the grand prize and then give a branded hand massager or stress relieving mask as the second prize.
For a service-oriented business such as a plumbing company or home design company, an example is to offer a bedroom or bathroom makeover as the grand prize and a picture frame or scented candle tin to second-prize winners. Again, the intent is to get increased awareness of your client among new potential customers.
Use Of Social Media In Sales Promotion Programs
With social media being used by so many businesses today, it easy to add a sweepstakes promotion to their efforts to increase the company’s interaction with their existing customers and to gather information on potential new customers (must provide certain information to enter the sweepstakes). Remember the pet charity that I contributed to and how they sent me a thank-you gift with another request to donate? Well, think about your clients sending a thank-you for entering the sweepstakes—maybe a postcard with magnet attached—the magnet offers a discount if they come in within the next 30 days as a follow-up to the sweepstakes. Again, a win-win. Even though the prospects didn’t win the grand prize or even the secondary prize, they may very well come in for a discounted product or service. And hopefully, your client will now have a new long-term customer.
As you can see, it’s not hard to get those creative juices flowing and come up with more ideas for your clients that use more promotional products and increase their sales and yours now.
Danette Gossett is president/CEO of Gossett Marketing Communications, Inc., (UPIC: GOSSETT) in Coconut Grove, Florida, and is co-founder of Promotions Resource LLC, a marketing resource network, and co-author of the new book Transform with best-selling author, speaker and trainer Brian Tracy. She has won numerous awards including a PPAI Bronze Technology Award for Best Blog and a recent Quilly Award from the National Academy of Best Selling Authors forTransform. Follow her on Twitter at @Marketngtibits and @SalesPromoOrg.
>>Using Golf To Build Business In Any Season
Just because golf season has ended in most parts of the country doesn’t mean you can’t still use the game to strengthen your business.
Here are some tips from Joan Cavanaugh, founder and CEO of New York City-based Boardroom Golf and a contributing author of the Executive Women’s Golf Association Foundation book, Teeing Up for Success, on how to use golf for power, position and profit in any season.
1. Let them know you play. Have a golf photo or trophy in your office. Make your putter a stationary object near your desk for practice moments between work sessions. Send a Monday morning email or social media message with a review of the golf course you played on the weekend. Watch the PGA and LPGA tour players on Sunday afternoon and use the results of the game as conversation starters.
2. Build your golfing network. Start preparing a list of golfers: those in your company, industry colleagues, potential clients, your social connections and especially those who are members of golf or country clubs. Attend a charity golf tournament and leave with a handful of business cards from business golfers. Become involved in community activities beyond the scope of your business, which may lead to new areas of golf contacts.
3. Add golf to your business development plans. Identify the annual tournaments when you can reach your target customers and get involved. Volunteer to be on the planning committee. Become an early sponsor and your company will be recognized for many months of promotion before the event, as well as on the day of the tournament. Not ready to play? Volunteer at the registration table and meet all the golfers attending. Buy a ticket to the awards dinner and cocktail party at the charity event.
Your goal is to leverage your contacts into a business relationship that can be solidified on the golf course. Use the winter months to build your business golf strategy and keep the dialogue going. Soon, your contacts will introduce you as a golfer to new clients and prospects and it will be time again to be teeing up for success.
Pam Swensen is CEO of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA), an international organization with chapters in more than 120 cities throughout the United States, Bermuda, Canada, Italy and South Africa. www.ewga.com. She is a co-author of the book Teeing Up for Success: Insights and Inspiration from Extraordinary Women. This article first appeared in the St. Louis Business Journal.