*Today's article was written by: Scott Gardner - founder of boutique firm Agile' Marketing Services, LLC. They specialize in working with their clients to become Recognized Experts, and using that status to leverage the clients' marketing efforts. Visit http://www.AgileMarketingServices.com
-- Unique Promotion Opportunities --
A few days ago, I saw a post on social media that people were celebrating National Smile Day. What amazes me is that it was from an author I'm connected with, and she was only mentioning it in passing. Business people are missing out! Nearly every day of the year has some celebration attached to it. Pick a few, and ride their coat tails to a profitable promotion.
Even if they don't actually celebrate it as a religious holiday, most people in America recognize Christmas as a time to spread joy and good thoughts. For the past 100 years or so, it's also been a time for companies large and small to run sales and promotions. What would the Christmas season be without a buying and selling frenzy, right?
But when you have 10,000 other companies hitting up your customers with sales, will your promotional message make it through their filter? It's more likely that your message will become just so much more background noise.
Find a holiday
Nearly every day of the year has some kind of celebration or acknowledgement tied to it. Smile Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, Sweetest Day. Of course, there are the "legitimate" holidays, like Valentines Day and Thanksgiving, but you'll find that you've got other companies offering promotions centered around those days as well.
There are numerous lists of traditional and weird holidays available out on the Internet. Grab a copy of the ones for next year and begin looking them over now. Pick a few that strike you as interesting. You don't need to stick with those holidays - you can set a promotion to coincide with a longer, larger message. For instance, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. One of my clients runs a donation program tied to that each year. The press coverage from their program draws in new customers, and helps make the existing customers and staff feel that they're making a positive difference.
Obviously, having two sales a week apart and then nothing for months is not a great idea. Try to find holidays that are at least 6 to 8 weeks apart. Depending on your industry, you probably don't want to have more than 3 or 4 major promotions per year, plus maybe 2 to 5 small, unannounced sales that you give your customers as a treat. If you find a particular holiday that really resonates with you (I always recommend coming up with a promotion to thank existing customers for Thanksgiving), make that your "anchor" promotion and spread your other sales around that one.
You need a minimum of 6 weeks to plan and promote a successful campaign. That is, unless you're a retailer. In that case, you might need to order in sufficient stock in advance, so your timeline will extend accordingly. You might need 12 or more weeks for that.
In any case, you should make a written plan for those weeks, breaking down what you need to get done, and deadlines for doing it. Any special marketing materials - printed fliers, vehicle wraps, etc. - should be designed and proofed early. Start writing marketing copy then as well. The idea is to get everything in place early enough to start publicizing your promotion before it actually happens. Some sales cycles are longer than others. A free coffee with a sandwich may be something you only promote the week before it happens. A 20% discount on ocean liner engines will, by necessity, require a longer lead time - months at least.
Obviously, a major promotion should be publicized to your target audience. Use all the avenues at your disposal. Email, print, social media platforms, direct mail, and anything else you can think of or afford. Make sure your messages and ads run before your promotion. Every month, I see expensive paid ads that run promoting something that happened long before the periodical was printed!
Tie the message to the holiday
Thank your customers for Thanksgiving. Give them a reason to smile on Smile Day. Free donuts for visitors who stop in on Doughnut Day. It really doesn't matter what day you've chosen for your promotion, you just need to give your target audience a reason to celebrate it, and for them to associate it with you and your promotion. I have a client who has annual customers that purchase and renew their contracts throughout the year, but she runs an extra 10% discount for Talk Like a Pirate Day. She'll even give the discount if you call in any other day of the year and request it in your best pirate voice.
My point is, you should come up with a reason, even if it's a tenuous one, for running a promotion for that particular holiday. Then, give them a reason to recognize it and respond to it.