Promotion, one element of your marketing mix, is the set of tactics business owners and marketers use to achieve a defined goal for the business or brand. And whether your next promotion is digital (a contest, a landing page on your website, an email) or print (brochures, a postcard mailing, your business cards) there are number of pitfalls to watch out for. Here are 10 of the big ones that can really tank your next promotion:
1. Failing to identify your goals. A personal trainer once told me, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” This also rings true in marketing. Without defining what you hope to achieve with your promotion, your effort is doomed from the start. Wikipedia identifies 3 possible objectives for promotions as
- To present information to consumers
- To increase demand
- To differentiate a product
Identify your goal before you decide on your strategy and your promotion will be much more successful.
2. Forgetting on which side your bread is buttered. In planning your promotion, bear in mind the current customers you want to retain while creating the strategy to attract the new customers you want to acquire. If your strategy wins you 10 new clients but alienates 25 current ones in the process, it’s hard to mark that as a win.
3. Selling yourself short by relying on discounts. There is, of course, a time and place for sales. If you want to get new customers to try your product, or clear out inventory, sales have their place. But if sales are the only trick up your sleeve, you can start to devalue your product or service. Instead, try to be more creative and find better ways to engage your potential customers that highlight what’s great about your offerings.
4. Not asking for permission. This is especially true for digital promotions via email. Buying lists or collecting customer contact information without expressly informing them that it will be used for email communications is a big no-no from a legal standpoint, and also for your brand. No matter how great your offer or your product, if people associate it with having their privacy violated, they’re not going to want to shop with you.
5. Pilfering images from the internet. This should go without saying, but in case anyone is confused: copying images you find on the internet to use in your promotions without permission is not okay. First, it can get you in hot water legally. Second, they will likely be of a lower quality than images you get legitimately and can reflect poorly on your brand. If you’re looking for artwork and you don’t have the money to pay a pro, check out sites like Flickr’s Creative Commons. There are a variety of licensing options here, and a lot of good free artwork that you simply have to attribute.
6. Not calling your viewer to action. The most beautiful email campaign or the most thoughtfully crafted brochure is nothing without a great call to action, or CTA. This is the part of your promotion that tells people what to do next. If you send an email campaign out about your newest product, don’t just tell people why it’s great…tell them to buy it! Don’t rely on people’s send of logic here. Emails that have a well-placed CTA are much more successful. Extoll your new products virtues, and then offer a nice big button telling the viewer to “Order Today!”
7. Using industry jargon in your writing. This is an easy trap to fall into if you offer a product or service in a technical or specialized field. If you offer water filtration systems there will be lots of terms that you and your collaborators are familiar. Your potential clients, however, are not so well-versed. Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, or any terms that you say to your spouse and receive a blank stare in return. Instead, talk to your readers about benefits and how your product or service can address their needs. They don’t need to know how it works to know that they want one.
8. Cheaping out on your print materials. There’s no rule that says quality has to be expensive. But do make sure that your sole criterion when choosing your print materials is not price. You should determine the level of quality you want, and then find the best price in that range. The brochures, business cards, postcards, and flyers that your potential customers will interact with say a lot about your company and can form a lasting impression – good or bad. (We think our friends over at Vistaprint are a great place to start!)
9. Skipping over the proof reading step. The importance of editing and proofing when it comes your print or digital materials can not be overstated. You can have everything a client is looking for, but a few typos can really damage their impression of you. No matter how carefully you wrote and designed it, always always always have a fresh pair of eyes look it over before hitting publish or sending it off to the printer
10. Forgetting to measure your results. An often overlooked, but nonetheless crucial, element of any promotional campaign is measurement. If you don’t measure the success of this promotional strategy, how will you know what to do next time? This is easier, of course, for digital promotions like social media contests and email campaigns. But it can also be done in print. Consider giving a discount or a free gift if someone brings in a postcard you sent, or have them mention a flyer they saw when they call. You should also always request information on how a client found you when you interact with them.
Those are our top 10 promotional pitfalls, but there are lots of other things to look out for when planning marketing promotions. What advice do you have for other marketers out there? Let us know in the comments below!