It is a surprising fact that most retailers and small businesses do not have an annual promotional calendar. There’s a vague sense that they may have a number of promotional offers available to customers through a previous email campaign or a bounce back coupon printed on a receipt, but very few take the time to create a twelve-month promotional plan. A well thought out and executed promotional plan has many benefits:
- It creates a limited time offer for customers to give them a call to action. (That’s marketing speak for make a purchase.)
- It can be the foundation of arrangements with vendors to secure better deals or terms.
- It creates excitement in your store.
- It provides fuel to your social media and advertising.
- It can drive specific customer behavior that leads to larger transactions and more loyalty.
A twelve-month promotional plan is as simple as a spreadsheet with months across the top and your marketing and sales actions along the left. If this is your first foray into creating limited-time promotions, consider creating six promotions that are two months each. For each month, create a promotion that is meant to drive a specific outcome. Typical goals would include acquiring new B2B customers, acquiring new B2C customers, (See our post “The Most Basic 2-Tiered Marketing Plan for Businesses”) increasing the number of transactions, rewarding high-value customers with preferred deals, building a stronger community network or donating to charity. Some promotions may accomplish more than one goal, but typically a promotion is meant to drive one primary customer behavior.
We regularly work with businesses who begin believing that a promotional plan will be inflexible and difficult to maintain. Truth is, it provides enormous benefits to every part of the organization and can save marketing money over the year. Contact us today and let us show you how.
Consider including some promotional “safeguards” in your annual plan. These can be last-minute optional offers that you can use if needed to reach your sales goals. Examples include one day flash sale offers that you can activate the last week of the month if sales are slow. Email blasts and social media “fan only” offers can be activated in one day. Other ideas include secondary and tertiary offers targeted at a very specific segment.
An annual calendar can be a foundation to begin negotiations with key vendors. Find out what they would be willing to do to support a specific promotion. Find market niches that your vendors want to penetrate and ask for price rebates or other offers to help you target the same niche. If a vendor has a goal of increasing sales of a new product line or brand and find out what they would be willing to do (underwrite a direct mail brochure, pay for an in-store display, split the cost of a newspaper ad) to help you create a promotion featuring those cartridges.
A promotion calendar can help you strategically think about your business and how to achieve your goals. Setting up a calendar makes it easier to involve other people to help you achieve your goals. A calendar can help you track and learn what are effective and ineffective marketing investments. A calendar can help you stay focused and give your daily activity purpose.
Remember: There’s activity and there’s productivity. Don’t confuse the two.