Sizzle or fizzle – the life of a sales promotion

Welcome to summer, the three months of the year where footloose and fancy-free reside. They also share shelf-space with “buy one, get one free” fresh summer berries, beat the heat airfare, sizzling hotel rates and a slew of other enticing deals to burn up the summer. Now as a partner in the advertising and design firm Rhyme & Reason Design, with a resume that includes car dealership marketing representative (aka a promotions girl), I completely understand the need for catchy lingo, pretty women in barely there clothes and a coupon, radio spot, TV commercial, eblast, pop-up ad, Facebook status update, tweet or text message to get the word out about business. However, with bikini clad women and melting words, I have to wonder, “Do these types of promotions work?”

According to an interview with Jim Trebilcock, Dr Pepper Snapple’s executive vice president, retailers are seeking out beverage promotions because they are effective marketing tools for engaging new and current customers. In the case of Dr Pepper and Snapple, their new summer promotions featuring celebrities and reality stars are encouraging both push and pull strategies among retail chains and consumers.

Case after case has proven that promotions are smart ways to spend upwards of 70% of a company’s marketing budget. Otherwise Dr Pepper, Coca Cola, Orbitz, Delta, Jet-Blue, Holiday Inn and all the other top name brands would be finding new ways to spend their advertising dollars. But, what makes a promotion so hot. My guess is it’s not the model. So what is needed to create that perfect promotion? According to books, articles, professors and Google searches, you must start with a well planned, appealing incentive that will get people off the couch and into the store.

To create a successful promotional campaign, no matter what the thermostat says, begin by establishing an objective. Ask yourself, “Who do you want to target?” “What do you want to accomplish?” and “By when do you want to accomplish it?” Once you’ve decided upon an objective your next mission is to plan your incentive. An incentive can be a price savings in the form of discounts, coupons or added value, samples or trial offers or an event. Keep in mind that although price savings are wonderful tools, they can also lead your company into the red and events if done half-heartedly will likely result in poor sales and reputations. After you have your objectives and incentives in place, be sure to create clear guidelines that everyone from staff to consumers are able to understand. It’s never good if you’re staff doesn’t know the rules of engagement and your customers need a decoder ring. Lastly, before I can allow you to battle the summer heat, I ask that you have a means to measure the results of the promotion. One way or another, you need to know if the campaign was successful and what you can do to make it even better for the next season.

Concerned that you may not be able to pull off an effective promotion? Not to worry we do it for a living and we promise not to use anything that rhymes with sizzle, unless of course you ask.