by Bryan Kauffmann – Director of Marketing - eContactLive, Inc.
How many times have you been in this position – you have come up with and presented an absolutely brilliant idea for a promotion that will be a sure way to bring in new business and boost sales only to have it produce absolutely nothing (or very little)? As you sit there and sift through the results looking for any miniscule shred of reason as to why the promo didn’t work, wondering how it could have underperformed at this magnitude, clinging to the hope that maybe by extending the offer another day will produce amazing results, just know that you are not alone - we have all had a failed promo at one time or another.
So what could be the reason for this latest sinking ship of a promo? We have found that there are a few factors that affect promotions that are out of our control, and a few reasons that we directly control.
OUT OF OUR CONTROL
1. Consumer Behavior – This is probably the one factor that everyone wishes they have the most control over. The ability to make people buy, sign up, donate, participate or whatever the goal for your promo is would be a wonderful thing to have control over.
2. The Economy – Every so often there is a downturn in the economy, and both companies and consumers go into panic mode. Companies want to boost revenues so they can keep their doors open, and consumers want to keep their money in fear of what the future holds. The increase in the number of promos leads to a devaluation of products and services, and reaffirms in the consumers mind that they were overpaying to begin with.
3. Force Majeure – Usually this term is used for natural disasters, but we will broaden the scope to also include acts of terror, war, and other catastrophic events that affect your targeted consumer base. We know that these events are rare, but do happen, and can affect our marketing efforts. Unfortunately, we have no control over these situations.
IN OUR CONTROL
1. The Offer – Is what we are putting out to our consumer base really what they want? Have we looked at results of previous campaigns to see what works, or rather, doesn’t? While we want to provide the best possible offer to our prospects, we need to make sure we aren’t devaluing our brand with the offer.
2. Timing of Promotions – How often are you putting out promos? One thing we all need to remember is that consumers are easily trained, and they will wait for the next “better” offer to come out unless you manage those expectations and only put out promos when you want to make an impact. Is your business cyclical? Are your offers in anticipation of the next cycle, or are they reactionary to slow performance? Do you advertise around the holidays? Depending on your business, this may not be the best time.
3. Expectations – Have you over-promised on the results prior to launch? When setting the expectations for the promo results, have results from previous offers similar to this new campaign. If the offer has never been run before, and no other offer you have done has been similar, don’t set high expectations – you may be disappointed.
4. Anticipation – Promotions can be exciting to think up and launch. The anticipation of phenomenal results can cloud your view of reality when it comes to analyzing the results. This closely ties into managing the expectations. Many times we have put out a promo with dollar signs in our eyes, and have been disappointed in the results – even though we may have come out with a positive ROI.
Now, those last few points were not an all inclusive list of issues we can run into, but they do cover some very vital issues that we have all run into at one time or another.
So how do we make every promo a “home run”? To be quite honest, you will put out promos that – much like a toddler – will fall flat on their face. Some of the best campaigns I have run haven’t had an offer – just a great headline and some amazing image to tie it all together.
One thing I like to tell people putting together any offer – if you are having fun putting it together, if it sells you on the product and/or service, and if you don’t feel hesitant about putting it out then go on and push it live! If there is any doubt though, address the issue and find out why there is push back. It may be that the concept is theoretically a great one, but just won’t relate or translate to your ideal consumer. It is better to work out the kinks before you feel like you put out a brilliant offer, but the consumer response tells you otherwise. Remember that you are not your target consumer. The marketing doesn’t have to appeal to you – it has to appeal to the general public – and they are a tough crowd!