Every business has limited time and money to spend on promoting themselves, their products, and services. Every minute and pound that you spend needs to be making an impact for you. To help you deliver promotional activity that hits the mark, we have put together a checklist to guide your thinking.
The checklist is split into 3 key phases: Planning; Defining and delivering; Following up.
We would recommend you use the headings to record what you are doing. This will provide a useful summary when looking back and will help with future planning.
Using the checklist won’t guarantee success, but it will certainly help you deliver better focused activity which is more likely to achieve the results you want.
Planning your promotional activity
This stage is about setting the framework for your activity.
1: Define what you want to achieve
Firstly, set out what you are aiming to deliver with this particular promotional activity and how it fits with your overall business and marketing strategy. Is the purpose to raise awareness of your company, product, or service? To find new customers, generally or of a specific type? To get existing customers to buy more? To launch a new service? To increase your social media following? To reposition the company to appeal to a new audience?
2: Set performance targets, measures, and timescales
Deciding in advance what you would consider to be a successful result is essential, otherwise you won’t be able to assess whether it has been worth doing. Alongside this, you also need to work out how you are going to know if you have reached your target. This is straightforward for some aims, like increased sales. For other goals like increased awareness, you will need to make sure you know how you are going to measure the change and have a benchmark figure for where you are now. Finally think about the time period over which you are looking to achieve your goal.
3: Decide on what resources you want to allocate
The next step is to work out how much you are prepared to invest in this result. Consider not just the direct spend but also any money you need to invest in materials or content. This could be copy, imagery, video, an infographic, testimonials, printed materials, promotional goods, and so on. Also think about how much of your time it is going to involve as this is time which can’t be used to work on other things.
4: Do a reality check
Before moving on, check that you have realistic ambitions for your activity when compared to the amount of time and money you are putting in. If you set unreasonable targets against the amount you are prepared to invest, then you are setting up your activity to fail. Also check that the results you are targeting are worth it. For example, for your business and product offer, will achieving your target of 10 new sales leads be worth an investment of £500?
Defining and delivering your promotion
Now you have the outline, it is time to put together the detail of what you are going to do. All of these elements are important, whether you are planning to do it yourself or putting together a brief for an outside agency to deliver all or part of it for you.
5: Know who you are trying to reach
The better defined your target audience, the more likely your promotional activity is to hit the spot. Think beyond simple demographics or business profile. Consider aspects like location, interests, links to other products or sectors, stage on the buyer journey, significant events, and so on. Beware of defining the audience too tightly, though, or you may find that there aren’t very many of them or that they are almost impossible to reach! Also make sure you have the right products or service on offer to meet the want or need these people are looking for. To do this, you need to…
6: Understand what motivates your audience
If you know what your competitive advantage is then you already know what motivates customers in your market. Translating this into the messages you use in this instance is then informed by what you want to achieve and the specific audience you are targeting. If you don’t know your competitive advantage, then take time first to work this out. You can read our article on this here.
7: Review what you have learnt from previous activity
Before getting into the detail, look back at any previous activity you have undertaken and how well it worked for you. Use the learning to help you think through what you are going to do this time round. You want to build on what worked well and avoid repeating any mistakes.
8: Look at the options in your toolbox
Your tools are the assets which you have which you can use to help you with your marketing. These include people, skills and knowledge; marketing collateral such as email or direct mail lists, website, social media accounts, images, video, infographics, testimonials and promotional goods; connections and networks; your physical presence such as your location, any vehicles or company uniform. In thinking about which tools you can use, consider which could work best with the specific goal you are aiming for. Also check that there are no conflicts between what you have or do now and what you are planning – being consistent is vital.
9: Select the right channels
There are lots of options available to you. Selecting the right routes to use to get your message out is vital. And it is easier to do if you have a tightly defined audience. Think about how different channels work, for example, some are more business and some more consumer appropriate, some are seen as more credibility than others. Also think about how each channel fits with your audience. What works in your market – what are your competition doing? Do you have the right channels available to you and if not, can you access them – I’m thinking here about speaking at a conference, getting an article into a key publication, creating a social media following or an email list of relevant people? You don’t have to restrict yourself to one channel alone, using a combination of channels to get across the same message can amplify impact and your return on investment.
10: Use appropriate language, imagery, and tone
If you understand who you are trying to reach, and your positioning as a company, then using the right language, imagery and tone is relatively straightforward. Many packages use the Flesch Reading Ease Score to rate your text content, but this is based on a view of standard reading ability. If you are targeting senior executives or business owners, then dumbing down the language you use so you can get the ‘right’ score could be a bad thing. Beware of using acronyms and abbreviations unless they are in common use and widely understood. Even when this is the case, if you do want to use them, check they don’t mean something else in another industry or sector. With images and video, make sure that any visuals are right for the audience rather than just being ‘nice’ images. With both language and imagery, think about the tone of the content. Are you looking to be serious, professional, approachable, funny? And does this fit with your company values and positioning?
11: Ensure you have a clear call to action
What do you want people to do after seeing or hearing your communication? Is it to sign up to a newsletter or email list, get a quote, have a demonstration, arrange a meeting, buy your product, visit your website or a specific page on it? Whatever it is you want people to do, make sure this is clearly communicated.
12: Think about timing
It may sound obvious, but the timing of any promotional activity can have a critical impact on success. There are two aspects to consider. Firstly, the external influences. These may be dates to avoid or dates to link in to and can relate to things like the time of year, major events or significant dates, industry events, competitor activity, legislative changes and so on. It is useful to have a calendar which you keep updated with any key dates like these. Secondly there is the picture within your business. It is easy to forget that you need to have the capacity to deliver both the promotional activity and any follow up. If you’ve something significant already in the pipeline which will take time away from the people you need involved in the delivery, then make sure you factor that into your plans, so you don’t end up over committed.
13: Check you have your fulfilment ready
Depending on your call to action, you need to have the mechanism in place to enable people to follow up – quickly and easily. If it is linked to your website, do you have the right information on it? Or a dedicated page set up? Is the system in place to collect information and a way of tracking what happens next? Do you have enough supplies of product ready to go? Do you have enough people ready to answer the phone, respond to emails or give demonstrations?
You have pressed the button and delivered your promotional activity, but that is not the end of the story. There are a few more steps that you need to take.
14: Encourage a response
We live in a very busy world where people don’t always behave as we expect and are easily distracted. Just because they haven’t responded in the way you want it doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. To be effective, you need to ensure you have included plans which will encourage a response. A simple follow up call or email, using on-line retargeting or other remarketing activity, is a vital part of maximising the impact of any initiative. There is a line between being persistent and being a nuisance, however, so try to avoid crossing it.
15: Assess impact
So, people responded and did what you asked, which is great. But do you know what the result of that has been? If not, then you are missing out on valuable information which will help you in the future. It is worth taking time to find out what the impact has been, so if they signed up to a mailing list or newsletter, are they happy with what they are getting? If they received a newsletter, did they read it? Like it? Want to see something included in future editions? If you sent them an offer, which they didn’t take up, why was that? Answers on the impact will help with the final point on our checklist…
16: Learn from your experience
It is critical to assess what you have done and see what you can learn from it to help you achieve better results next time. Taking time to learn from the past is a vital part of any initiative… and a key part of ‘marketing with intelligence’.
If you would like help with any aspect of promoting your company then do ask us. We would be delighted to use our knowledge, experience, and external perspective to help you achieve results with the resources you have available.