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Marketing / Business marketing

A promotional campaign: Planting the seeds for success

When it's time to take your idea to the streets, a far sighted promotional campaign is almost certain to yield better results than a one-off event.

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It is important to focus your mind around this concept – it removes your launch or event from a specific time, and puts it into the context of a period of time in your business progression. It elevates a launch beyond a cute event into a longer-lasting impression about your operation that can stay in your customer’s mind.

Simply put, think about launching a promotional campaign, rather than a product or service.

Here’s one example from my business: I know that annual report time is one that has communication managers at high stress. One of their main frustrations is that annual reports can often gather dust after a mass of blood, sweat and tears in production. It really is an exhausting process that often ends in questionable communication outcomes.

The obvious strategy is for me to direct market to potential clients when they’re planning their report, by ‘launching’ my annual report product. I could cold-call, direct mail or hold a workshop. Sure, I can pick up some clients this way, but cold-calling can be very hit and miss and an actual event takes a lot of time and money for no guarantee of a decent show up.

Instead, I have taken a longer-term approach. I created a ‘blood, sweat and tears’ campaign. The key was a ‘blood, sweat and tears’ brochure mailed shortly after most annual reports are finally put to bed – usually in the final quarter of the year. The mailer pointed to my website for five top tips on how to turn the report into ‘communication gold’ and to really capitalise on all the hard work.

The next year, the promotional campaign moves into phase two, where the same potential clients receive a follow up message at the start of their planning process, reminding them of our tips and emphasising our product.

"The market can only accept a limited number of messages at a time, so keep it focused."

It is a two-year promotional campaign, ‘launched’ via the mailer and web giveaway. The key message is “Last year we gave you some intellectual candy; how about this year you bring us in for the real thing.”

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The underlying strategy was to catch potential clients when they were fresh from a tiring experience, and get them to slot me into their planning for next year, seeing me as a way to relieve the burden.

Responses have indicated that of the five top tips, at least three were not being used by clients or had not been considered before, but were now part of their agenda.

Instant value.

This means that I’m in a far better position to capture new clients than a cold call or direct mail each year during June. The by-product as that potential new clients got to see my website and the other things I have on offer.

So how can you create a promotional campaign?

Let’s distil the essentials:

  • Work in areas of natural talent – you know your clients and how your offering fits their need. Think deeper and list some of the emotional or process triggers that can give you clues to campaigns. They really are an emotion-based activity, which is why so much money is spent on promotional campaigns based on our needs/wants. Think ‘Just Do It’.
  • Think longer term – a promotional campaign can be short or long, but always try to maximise the effort over the longest time frame possible. Build on previous connections with related but new ones in a progressive series. The market can only accept a limited number of messages at a time, so keep it focused.
  • Listen carefully to the responses or get the feedback you need – follow up with calls or correspondence to see how the campaign went over. Nobody minds sharing their views. It’s amazing what you’ll find out. Start with your best clients first – they’ll be the most honest and supportive without criticising you outright.

But the truth is, I’m just about to enter Phase 2. We’re in uncharted territory and I’m having an educated guess using an innovative strategy. I’ll let you know how I go!

Jess Tyler

is passionate about helping innovators find their voice and about helping clever organisations to create their own marketing rules.

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