Three Tips to Achieve Promotional Marketing Excellence
By Barbara Emener Karasek / April 2016Insights
Promotional marketing is not really about you, the brand. Or you, the product. It’s really about the customer. And it’s about all customers, known or unknown. Promotional marketing is relevant for a customer who has no earthly idea that your brand or your product even exists. Promotional marketing is relevant for loyal customers who use your product every day, shops at your store a couple of times a week, recommends your product or store to others, or buys your product every time they have a need. Promotional marketing is designed to engage new customers, deepen the engagement and consumption of your brand or product from casual customers, and leverage and maximize the loyalty of the most avid customers of your brand or product.
To psychologically dissect this a bit further, let’s consider the notion that the customer’s experience with any brand or product truly begins with them. The customer’s experience with any brand or product is a direct result of a customer’s unfilled or unmet need. A customer is hungry and they need to buy food. A customer’s car would not start and now need to buy a car battery. A customer uses an existing laundry detergent but notices their clothes are not as clean as expected. A customer is frustrated that they are not recognized or thanked for their patronage at the stores where they shop nearly every day.
It’s truly about understanding, knowing and valuing all stages of the customer’s journey, not the destination. In a lifelong relationship with a customer, there is no final destination, merely a never ending, ongoing relationship that stands the test of time.
Regardless of which customer type (unknown, casual or avid) you are attracting or engaging with, there are a few foundational elements in which to be mindful.
Value and Appreciate the Customer’s Journey
The customer experience begins with the customer. Naturally, the customer’s journey also begins with the customer. Never has it been more important to make an extraordinary first impression. The old adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is especially relevant in promotional marketing. Brands and products, like people, do not really get a second chance to make a first impression. How you present your brand or product to the customer the first time immediately sets the tone for how others view you. As a marketer, it is important to value and appreciate the customer’s journey. It’s long. And, for many brand or products, it can be a journey with a customer that lasts a lifetime.
Over the course of their lifetime, a customer’s journey will invariably take many twists and turns, ebbs and flows, and peaks and valleys. Your relationship with the customer will be brought through their trials and tribulations of life. It is your responsibility as a marketer to stand alongside the customer, as one would in any other serious, committed relationship. In good times and bad. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health.
Appreciate that the customer journey is wonderfully made, yet inherently different, for every individual. Value that the customer is faced with changes in their lives every day. Be empathetic to the customer’s ever changing challenges that life delivers. Be sympathetic to the customer’s ever changing needs and wants.
Automate, Automate, Automate
Automation is paramount to your success as a marketer. Automation is key for many marketing functional areas as email marketing, direct marketing, social media, content marketing, consumer promotions, loyalty programs, as well as the business functions for finance, technology, operations, and sales. The better you know your customer data points, the better you can customize marketing messages and offers to the customer and deliver these messages in the “channel” that serves them best. To wit, automation should not necessarily replace the human interaction or intimate personalization of the brand outreach to customers. A warm hello as customers enter your store, a personalized email or voicemail, a hand shake upon the close of a transaction, or the smiley face emoji in reply to a customer’s social media post go a very long way!
Some of the biggest mistakes marketers make are not keeping a tight control on the finance of their promotions – valued by the accuracy of the inputs and outputs – chart of accounts, product sales, marketing expenses, cost per customer acquisition, margin calculations, cost of sales, or new sales versus organic sales growth. You may make poor promotional marketing decisions because you’re basing them on bad information. You have a fiduciary responsibility to know the guardrails, the data points, learn the systems, and analyze the data to drive business decisions. Having expert finance and technology advisors may be the difference between poor and great promotional marketing decisions. Put a team in place to advise you on all stages of your customer’s lifecycle as well as your business’ lifecycle.
Deliver Customer Experience Excellence
Never underestimate the importance of delivering an exceptional customer experience at every interaction with your brand or product. Yes, every single interaction with your brand or products needs to be exceptional. Memorable. Authentic. On brand. Each instance provides the customer a ride on the delicate tightrope hovering over the waxing or waning of “should I or should I not like, or buy, or believe in” that product. Being mindful of the details of every customer experience opportunity is the key to winning the customer in every step throughout their journey with your brand or product.
Provide your customers with reliable and easy to use websites and mobile apps. Send out email blasts with subject lines that entice customers to open the email. Include rich, relevant content in the email blasts which speaks directly that that individual customer and is compelling enough for them to act on the offer or call to action. Create meaningful, relevant and on-brand content and messages for in-store speaker systems, on-hold messaging or in-store message boards. Deliver beneficial loyalty programs that are easy to understand in all channels of engagement, such as online, instore or in-app.
In the end, each step in the customer’s journey creates a lasting impression in the mind of the customer for your brand and product. Each and every experience with your brand or product is vitally important to your brand, product and business. Place the customer, and their experience and their journey, as the priority to fully establish, develop and sustain lifelong relationships with your customers.
Contributed by Barbara Emener Karasek, Independent Strategic Growth Advisor
Barbara spent 20+ years in a variety of marketing and business development with sports, entertainment, retail, and consumer product companies, and is currently an independent strategic growth advisor for numerous businesses and non-profits. A lifelong athlete who parlayed hard court teachings to her business roles, she went from being a four-sport high school athlete to earning a BA in Sociology (1992) from Furman University, where she attended on a four-year volleyball scholarship, served as Team Captain, won the 1990 Southern Conference Championship title, earned All-Conference honors, and still holds many school records. She went on to earn an MA in Mass Communication (1995) from the University of South Florida, which honored her in 2008 with its Outstanding Alumnus Award. Committed to lifelong learning, Barbara completed the Strategic Marketing Management course at Harvard Business School and is certified in Lean Six Sigma. She is involved with a variety of charities, the CMO Council, Women’s Sports Foundation, and American Marketing Association. Barbara and her husband Tony, a former professional basketball player, stay busy with charity work, highly competitive sports-related hobbies, and a never-ending search for the perfect fishing spot. Barbara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.