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Original post : 1 Oct 2012

Marketing Planning - How could you get there with Promotion?

At last - promotion! Step 3e is the aspect that most springs to mind when you think about marketing. Anything you do to get the word out about your products or services comes under the heading of promotion, so that includes advertising, sales promotions, websites, networking, presentations, referrals, word of mouth, adwords & SEO, social media, etc., etc., etc..

Promotion can cause fear and concern - it generally involves spending money externally and specific results can be slow to show and hard to measure. But if you don't put some investment or effort into reaching out to customers why should you assume you will be successful in your business?

All too often I meet small or start up businesses who have already spent all their money creating their product or service offering and who now have no money to invest in bringing in the customers. Is this reasonable? Just by opening your doors can you expect customers to come flooding in?

So, how could you get there? There are hundreds of options when it comes to promotion but using the data you have already created in your marketing plan to date will help you narrow down your options significantly. You have a clear of: 

  • The market you are targeting
  • Your targets & objectives
  • Resources, e.g. the budget/investment you can make
  • The product/service you could be offering
  • Pricing options
  • How you could distribute

Taking all this knowledge into account you will soon whittle the list of options down into a shorter list of real possibilities. Traditional marketing tells us there are 5 categories of promotion, but within each of these categories you will find many different options:

  1. Above the line, advertising, mass broadcast activities that are less targeted
  2. Below the line, direct to identifiable individuals, companies or households, e.g. direct mail, door drops, websites, social media
  3. Sales Promotions, e.g. point of sale materials, exhibitions, offers
  4. Public Relations, not just press activity but targeted at any stakeholders such as employees
  5. Personal Selling - could be telemarketing or face to face 

Something that might help your decision-making is to know how many people you need to be interacting with. If you know the target number of customers you need to convert you can work backwards using assumptions about conversion rates to estimate the size of population that you need to be influencing and engaging with in order to hit those targets. Then you can identify the best options to achieve that impact.

It's unlikely you'll do all the promotional activities you come up with at this stage at once, so don't be too constrained by your budget and resources, but you can very likely rule a few options out completely. Then, when you get to building a timetable for your plan, you can schedule activities to build impact as resources become available.

One way to make your promotions more effective is to create a layer effect, integrating activities over time and coming at your target population from a number of different angles. So make sure you select a range of activities - the most disappointed businesses I see are those who say they did one activity and got no results, e.g. a radio ad or a mailshot. The more sustained 'noise' you can make towards your target market the better!

Another key aspect to consider is the objective of each promotional activity - in our integrated layered programmes some promotions will be about awareness and reputation, some about lead generation and some about conversion. As you progress a contact through your sales process you will use different techniques in different ways to engage, nurture and convert.

If you didn't review branding as part of product then now is the time to do so. You may need to assign some of your budget to design and to ensuring you have a consistent brand image across all your promotional activities.

At the end of stage 3e then you'll have a short list of promotional ideas that you could rollout in some combination to hit your targets. At which point we ask ourselves, 'Which way is best?'.

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