Having a sales promotion is an essential part of any business’s marketing toolkit, and if you’re thinking of having one to drum up some business, I salute you! You’re on the road to more sales and return business.

But let’s start with some theoretical stuff first. I promise, I’ll make this easy!

I’m going to lay it out for you: “sales promotion” is a marketing term for “incentive.”

When you have some kind of promo, you’re incentivizing people to buy your product. Once they take that first leap, they’ll be way more likely to buy from you again, et cetera. You probably already knew that, but remember that the goal is to make it easier and more exciting for customers to buy from you.

Chemical reactions take activation energy, and successful selling sometimes requires a little help. That’s where your promotion comes in.
So how can you rock your sales promotion? Read on for some best practices.

Identify your goals

It’s true that a sales promotion can attract new customers, motivate old customers, and steal customers from a competitor, but it would take a pretty amazing promotion to do all those thing in one swing.
So before you start, sit down and identify what you’re trying to accomplish, and be specific!
“I want to make money” isn’t a strong enough goal.
Some sample goals to get you going:

  • Conquest customers searching for a competitors’ product
  • Encourage customers to buy more frequently
  • Drive up sales volume
  • Give former customers a nudge to re-purchase
  • Boost business during a particular time of day or year
  • Encourage potential clients to strike up a conversation

By the way, don’t forget to write these goals down! Brainstorm some metrics that will reflect what your success will look like. If your goal is to motivate lapsed customers to re-purpose, a successful conversion might be that customer adding product to their basket and checking out.

Target your message

It’s also critical that your promotion reflects the audience you’re going to target. For instance, a coupon doesn’t always work well on younger audiences or the very affluent, but a referral discount might.
I recommend getting data from your current customers. Send out a quick survey in the mail, look at past order data, or even just ask your customers about their demographic details. Once you know who’s using your product or service, you’ll be better able to craft a promotion that speaks to their needs, wants, and desires.

Decide on your promo

This seems like where you’d start, right? But remember that your message and the type of promotion you go with should be determined by your goals and by your audience, not the other way around.
Some ideas:

  • Discount codes
  • Buy one get one deals
  • Freebies
  • Special events
  • Gift with purchase offers
  • Free consultations

Have a time frame

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how vague some marketing teams are on the actual time frame of their offer. Don’t be afraid to miss out on latecomers: you should know and communicate when the promotion is going to end to give your offer a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
If your customer thinks they can get this deal any time, there won’t be any incentive to seriously consider purchasing.

Promote your promotion

Just having an offer isn’t enough to necessarily make it worth your time to have one, and for it to be productive it needs to be seen. By actual humans.
So get out there and promote your promotion the way you would any of your other products.
Need some ideas?

  • Send out an email campaign
  • Add signage to your storefront
  • Put a banner on your website
  • Post the details on social media
  • Send flyers
  • Take out an ad in the local paper
  • Write a press release

Have a budget

This last tip is possibly the most important! Your promotion is a failure by default if you don’t make any money on it.
Calculate the loss you’re taking in the course of the promotion. This will range from the discount rate on a coupon code or the cost of producing the freebies, or whatever you end up buying or losing money on. Then total up the amount of profit you made. Subtract the cost from the profit, and that number should be positive.
If not, rethink your next campaign and try again!