Getting customers to plunk down cash or credit cards remains a painfully slow process in this struggling economy. And that’s precisely why it’s important–and always will be–to lure potential buyers with promotions. In fact, coming up with attractive promotions has become a bigger deal than ever.

When done correctly, promotions get customers out of a holding pattern by giving them an incentive to take action before a limited-time offer expires.

1. Target your effort
Promotions can spur purchases by established customers, reel in new customers, draw customers from competitors, get current customers to buy differently, and stimulate business during slow periods. But rarely can one promotion accomplish all of those objectives at once. As a result, you must decide which of the following is most important so that you can target your effort:

  • Do you want customers to purchase more frequently, buy in greater volume, or   be attracted to new or different offerings?
  • Do you want to lure new customers into your business?
  • Do you want lapsed customers to give your business another try?
  • Do you want to boost business during slow hours, weekdays or particular seasons?

After carefully and thoughtfully defining the audience and the change you want your promotion to inspire, ask yourself this question: If you offer a time-limited incentive, is it likely that the customers you’ve targeted will respond? If so, continue to the next step.

2. Plan your incentive
A well-thought-out, properly targeted promotion prompts customers to take action by offering one of these incentives:

  • Price savings, including discounts, coupons or added value offers
  • Samples or trial offers to provide a low-risk way to try new products or services
  • Events or experiences to generate crowds, enthusiasm, sales, publicity

As you decide on your incentive, keep these facts in mind:

Price offers must be strong enough to compel, but reasonable enough to keep your business out of red ink.

Coupons always make a comeback in penny-pincher markets, which means they’re hugely popular these days. Even young consumers and affluent shoppers–groups that traditionally shun coupons–are using them, boosting the typical 1 to 2 percent redemption rate by nearly 20 percent.

Samples work in all lines of business to let customers try before buying. The key is to sample products that are so great they’ll win raves and repeat business.

  • Online-based businesses need to promote free samples prominently in an effort to attract links, visitors, site registrations and publicity.
  • Retailers can turn sampling into promotional events. Think of Costco on weekends.
  • Service businesses would do well to give away mini versions of their offerings. For example, five-minute shoulder massages or one-hour home decorating consultations.

Events and experiences draw customers for celebrations, product launches, special appearances or presentations, and other activities that combine entertainment with brand and product presentations.

3. Know what you want to achieve
Promotions work especially well when consumers are in need of a jolt to take buying action. Just be clear about what you want to achieve.

By knowing the potential bottom-line impact of your promotion, you’ll have the information you need to allocate a promotion budget, dedicate staff time and invest the energy necessary to host a strong promotion that will deliver business-boosting results over the time period it covers.

Typically with most franchise concepts, such as Outdoor Living Brands, the marketing and branding support to create these types of promotions is at your fingertips

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I feel that every once in a while it’s necessary to let the people in internet land really know whats happening at Outdoor Living Brands HQ, here in Richmond Virginia. Getting a feel for the company you are gettting involved with is the key to any good discovery process, and we are no different.

On May 6, the Richmond franchises of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, Archadeck and Mosquito Squad will host a Grand Opening Event at the company’s headquarters on Emerywood Parkway. The company will present trend information on outdoor living as it relates to outdoor lighting design and installation, the design and build of innovative outdoor rooms and decks and mosquito, flea and tick elimination for outdoor spaces.

The event will serve as a unique networking opportunity for those involved in the outdoor living services industry in the Richmond area. Invitees are encouraged to attend and learn more about the Outdoor Living Brands family of companies and opportunities for building trade alliances.

Comprised of category-leading brands Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Mosquito Squad, Outdoor Living Brands operates through more than 150 franchise locations worldwide with a dedication to innovation, high quality standards, customized service and gracious outdoor living. The company was founded in late 2008 by the merger of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Archadeck. The acquisition of the Mosquito Squad brand soon followed.