The big guys have been planning their specials and promotions for months and they have the advantage of bulk buying. If you have just looked at your calendar and shouted ‘eek!’, relax, you can still get in on the excitement. However, you need to start your planning now
- What are you going to sell? Consider stock or services that are high attraction items and either you already have high stock levels, or they are easy to get (no supply chain delays).
- How much are you going to discount? Ensure that your offer is one that you can afford and establish what your competitors are doing. Don’t try to take on the big boys, rather offer something different.
- What is currently trending in your market? The hotter the item, the more likely it is to attract customers.
- Are your people and processes geared up to handle the predicted increase in sales volumes?
- Have you got sufficient funds to cover the increased stock purchases, marketing and advertising costs, possible extra staff etc.?
Now that you know what you’re going to promote, tell your customers! If you’re a brick & mortar business, how will you get customers into your store and attract their eye to the specials? If you’re an online business, how will a visitor to the site find the specials easily?
- Do competitor research, what promotions did they do in the past and what are they doing now? Can you use those ideas in a different way? (Similarly, if you’re an older business, what did you do that worked before?)
- What channels are you going to use to advertise your promotions? Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Ads in local newspapers or radios, leaflets, in-store banners, email? How much money are you going to spend on the promotions and which channels are most likely to reach your audience? Remember, if you are going to do digital advertising, that mobile is king. The advert must be mobile optimised.
- Use the services of a professional designer to produce an eye-catching, compelling and user-friendly advert with simple ‘buy now’ instructions.
- Develop a dedicated ‘special offers’ landing page on your website and direct all your adverts to that page. The rule is 1-2-3. After 3 clicks at most, the customer should be able to buy. Keep it simple, quick, and as painless as possible for the customer.
- Consider discounts on shipping costs. The expense and complexity of shipping is a major cause of drop-offs. Online shoppers are used to being offered free shipping for purchases over Rx amount, or you could offer a flat rate for all orders placed during the promotional period. (Pad in your estimated times to deliver to allow for the pressure on courier companies during this time.)
- How long will you run the promotion? E.g. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have morphed into a week for many online sellers, but 1 - day - only specials definitely create urgency.
- How can you cross-sell & up sell with other higher profit margin items? It’s the strawberries and cream effect… buy the strawberries + cream + chocolate sprinkles and get R20 off.
Communicate with your customers
- Ask your customers what products or service would excite them.
- Segmentation is extremely important. Group your customers together on some logical basis e.g. location or a demographic such as age. This allows you to have meaningful conversations with them. It’s not just the way that you sell to each segment that should change, but it may be wise to offer different products to different customers. There is no benefit in trying to sell umbrellas to Capetonians in summer!
- Create customised, even personalised ads on relevant products to reach each group, in the way that they prefer.
- Love and reward your old customers, don’t just focus on attracting new customers, who may be one-off bargain hunters. Try offering exclusive deals for your Facebook followers or loyalty club members. Encourage them to share and tag the promotion. Allow pre-Black Friday shopping for loyal customers…
- Be nimble and agile. If you are having little success with a particular promotion – tweak it immediately and try again.