Marketing Basics: Promotions and Competitions…

And using them the right way to raise your profile

OK…. I have run competitions before. In my newsletter and in the ‘real’ world. And to be honest they don’t always work. But when they do, they can be very powerful for your business. They must be, otherwise why would so many companies, including the ‘big boys of the bottomless marketing budgets” use them? (They may have money to spend but they don’t often waste it!)

So running a promotion or a competition seems like you are just giving stuff away. Wrong. You are using promotions and competitions to gain information about your target audience. And that phrase is key – target audience. The reason why many promotions and competitions don’t work, is because they are aimed at the wrong audience for the business involved, or the offer or prize being supplied just doesn’t interest them.

I know I have talked about your target audience before but this is just another example of why it is key; why it is crucial to know and understand your target audience. If you don’t know who you are selling to, and why, and what, then you’re marketing efforts are going to be sporadically productive at best.

If you don’t know who/what your target audience is, then you need to do some research and thinking about your product or service. If you don’t know who your target audience then you have more thinking to do. If you do have a good idea then well done! You are in the minority probably. But let me be clear it is a target audience. Target, as in pinpoint. Not general, but focused.

A target audience is not: “all small business owners” no matter how much you think it is or want it to be. With approximately 4 million small businesses in the UK you can’t be possibly be targeting them all in the same way. You need to focus down.

Moving on…

How to create a successful promotion or competition

If you know your target audience then whatever you do should be more effective than if you didn’t know. However, there are still some other things to consider.

Why are you running the promotion or competition and what do you hope to gain for your business by doing it?

You are not just in the business of giving things away for – I sincerely hope! So you want to be getting something back. What is it? Is it names, email addresses, phone numbers, information, opinions, money, new customers? If you know what you want to get out of it then there is a point to actually doing it. And you can structure the activity around that requirement. E.g. if you want to encourage people to try your product or service then a good promotion is Free Trial or 20% off on your first visit. Not highly original but it does work.

What are you prepared to give up or give away to get the above requirement?

You need to look at what you are prepared to give in order to have your target market engage in this promotion or competition with you. This part is usually about a monetary value, but it can sometimes be about your time. Whatever you decide, you need to then refer to your target market to see if this is actually something that will interest them. For example, if you know your target audience consists of mums with babies – you don’t want to give a pair of tickets to a football match. Or if your target audience is mainly men who play golf, then you don’t want to give away a beauty treatment.

OK these are obvious examples, but you will be surprised at how many people give away the wrong thing and then wonder why no one wants it! (I have done this too – a long time ago – but I learned from it.)

What is different about your promotion or competition?

This is where you need to get creative and why businesses can spend huge amounts of money on this aspect of a promotion or competition. Obviously as a small business we don’t have huge fortunes to spend (one day but not right now) so we have to do this for ourselves (or find a reasonably priced creative marketing whizz to do it for us – hmmmmmm….). You need to think about the above points and then think about how you can most attractively and creatively offer this to you target audience.

In the case of promotions, you can look to partner up with another business that doesn’t compete with you but has the same target audience. So in the case of a healthy eating coach perhaps they could team up with a health food shop or a personal trainer.

With competitions, it is a little harder but teaming up works, as does creative presentation or requirements to enter into the competition itself. Don’t make it too weird or whacky though – as unless the prize is amazing – it can be seen as too much hard work. Usually with competitions – the easier it is for your audience to enter, the better.

Get the right promotion for your promotion!

Simply put, if your target audience doesn’t know about your promotion or competition – they won’t be able to take advanatge of it. So you will need to do a little bit of marketing… for your marketing! Running a promotion or competiton in conjunction with a well known or well attended event is always a good idea. This usually involves partnering up.

Publicising it in your local paper is also good. (You will need an exciting press release and offer for this though.) Advertising the promotion or competition works but don’t spend money on this unless you absolutely have to or keep it to a minimum. If you are targeting mums and babies – go to play groups and put up signs or hand out leaflets. If you are targeting men who play golf – go to golf clubs and offer the promotion to their members.

There are lots of ways to do this – you just need to be a little creative and confident in approaching potential opportunities to publicise your promotion or competition. If you have thought about running a promotion or competition for your business but aren’t sure where to start then get in touch and see if we can come up with some creative and practical ideas for you.

Remember it’s all about generating leads, potential customers and new customers for your business so that your business is the success you know it can be! For more marketing and business tips sign up to the Just Too Busy Newsletter.