The Ultimate Guide to Building a Solid Promotional Solutions Plan
With 2017 behind us and a fresh year ahead, it’s important to get your promotional marketing off to a solid start. With a well-planned foundation and a bit of forethought, this can be the year that your promotional marketing really takes off. Many of my clients have seen positive economic trends in 2017 and are starting the year off with optimistic budgets for 2018.
Often, at the start of a new year, I have clients and prospects who come to me to ask how they can most cost effectively build their promotional branding road map for the next 6 to 12 months. This is where I can be of great assistance. The process I use is outlined below and when properly executed will help any company or organization achieve great results using promotional marketing. At its core, this two-part approach entails understanding the company’s needs and how promotional solutions meet them.
5 Pillars of Defining Promotional Needs
It’s important to start by understanding some key elements in a company’s sales and marketing road-map. Depending on the organization, these may already be well defined and communicated, while in many others, it is an exercise well worth the effort. This information lays the groundwork for developing successful promotional marketing campaigns. There are five simple areas to address and understand a company’s needs: Target Audience, Goals, Objectives, Timeline and Budget.
1. Know Your Audience
Buyers, Partners and more
Perhaps the most important element in the process is to understand who your target audience is. Organizations may often have multiple audiences depending on the need at that moment. Most organizations focus on customers – those that actually pay money to the company in return for a good or service. Depending on the industry and focus of the organization customers may also include, end-users as well as resellers, dealers, VARs, and distributors. Understanding who makes up this audience set and what motivates them to buy is of paramount importance in being able to connect with them and motivate the response the company desires. That may be purchasing a product, attending an event or trade show, accepting a subscription, referring your service, or purchasing your product or service again in the future.
Employees as Customers
Companies who are leaders in their fields also recognize the internal customer, traditionally their employees. These are the people who are both the face and heart of an organization and without whom, the company will not be able to function. Understanding what connects employees to the company and what motivates them to continue to do great work, is the key to providing the motivation and incentive to assure that they not only stay with the company, but that they thrive in the work environment created by senior leadership. Examples of these types of programs include: service awards, sales incentives, employee incentives, safety incentives, company “swag” and employee outings, just to name a few. These are often the non-advertised employee benefits that yield very high return on investment in terms of higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover, which all adds to the bottom line with higher sales numbers and lower costs.
2. Define Your Goals
Organizational goals are the next area to consider when identifying the right elements for a promotional campaign. They are the steps that convert the company’s mission and vision into action. Goals are the broad, non-measureable, ongoing efforts undertaken by an organization to further the mission and vision. Examples include, expanding sales to existing customers, increasing market share, increasing profit margins, and increasing customer satisfaction.
3. Set Measurable Objectives
Objectives are the results achieved when goals are met. These are the tangible and measureable actions that drive organizations’ actions to achieve success. Achieving objectives is another prime area where promotional marketing can have a dramatic impact. These can include: increasing average basket size by 15% in Q4, bringing product market share to 24% by the end of the year, increasing profit margin by 3% by fiscal year end, and raising customer satisfaction ratings by an average of 15% by the end of Q2. Promotional campaign examples include gift with purchase, loyalty, incentive programs, and employee incentive items.
4. Plan Your Timeline
Now that we know who the target audience is and what the desired outcome is to be from our promotional program, we need to know the timeline. When executing a promotion or campaign of any kind, it is always necessary to understand when it needs to be operational, or in-market. Several factors go into this calculation but inevitably, I have found that most practical way is to start with launch/event/drop date and work backwards to project manage the solutions that can fit the requirements.
Sometimes timelines are easy to identify, like a trade show give away, or a year-end-service award. We have a hard date as to when items need to be delivered, or when a program is to go live. Other projects are a little harder to nail down because we may not have all the questions to the above answered yet, or there may be other programs that need to run prior to this program, the results of which will dictate the timing for the next. It is important from the onset to develop solutions that will fit in the timeline. Otherwise, we run the risk of falling in love with a certain solution, but later encounter disappointment when there is not enough time to develop it.
5. Manage Your Budget
The last component needed to develop a successful promotional program is Budget. Many selling gurus will say that price should not be part of the solution development process and while that may be true when selling a cost/benefit commodity type item, when developing a promotional solution or program, it is important to understand what is reasonable to spend. Just like timelines, budgets must be managed and planned ahead. When budget is no option, the world of possibilities is much larger, however, most organizations don’t have unlimited budgets (and very often are also time-constrained) so getting to the appropriate solution as quickly and cost-effectively as possible is in everyone’s interest.
Sometimes, timeline and budget are elements that have initial flexibility with organizations. They may be planning and not have a firm grasp of how much time, or money, they will have until budgets are approved. Good solutions providers can be highly effective working with organizations at this stage, helping to develop programs, ideas, and products that will fit target audience, objectives and goals, but perhaps with a variety of timelines and budgets. This allows the initial internal approval process to proceed while shortening the time required for solution development once approvals are received.
Defining Promotional Solution Success
Now that we have a good understanding of a company’s Target Audience, Objectives, Goals, Time Line and Budget, to evaluate the benefit of a promotional solution, we need to look at three elements. These are Utility, Desirability, and Impressionability to the target audience. Ideally, solutions will score high in at least two of these three categories.
1. Utility is Key
When evaluating utility, it is important to look at how useful the solution is to the target audience. Items like power banks and charging cables have higher utility value to a target audience of heavy smartphone users than to an audience that is not. A warm polar fleece blanket will have higher utility value to a person in a colder weather climate than one in a hot desert region. The more useful the item is to your target audience, the higher the value they will assign to it, and the more likely they are to take the action you desire.
2. Understand Desirability
Desirability measures how much the target audience will want your promotional solution. Desire can fall into several categories, but for simplicity we can look at timeliness and perceived value. Providing a cool bottle of water with your logo on it at the end of a hot parade is making the product available at just the right moment and time – the product might be inexpensive, but something a parade goer would certainly welcome. Giving a nice backpack to a new employee would have a high perceived value, but not necessarily be needed in a timely manner. Both solutions are desirable to the target audience, but for different reasons.
3. Higher Impressions for Higher Visibility
Impressionability is important to quantify to determine the solution’s true value. This is a measure of the number of impressions your branding will receive by your target audience compared to the cost of the product and measured over the life of the product. By example, a custom branded chocolate bar may have good utility and high desirability in certain settings (Ex: trade show giveaway) but have a very low number of impressions as it is consumable and disposable. On the other hand, a coffee mug may have good utility, be highly desirable and offer a very large number of impressions to the right target audience (Ex: employee gift).
To summarize, by understanding who the target audience is, what the organization’s objectives and goals are, working within the timeline and staying within the budget, your ability to create successful promotional solutions will dramatically increase. By measuring the utility value, desirability, and impressionability of the products and solutions to the target audience, you are virtually guaranteed to find success in your promotional marketing. Working with experienced promotional marketing specialists will help you to navigate the solution development process much more effectively.
Reach Out for a Complimentary Evaluation
Contact us at [email protected], (888) 994-7766 for a free evaluation. With over 19 years of industry experience, iPromo has developed effective and successful solutions for thousands of organizations and companies around the world. Our team would love to do the same for you.