It’s always reassuring when one of your promotional ideas succeeds. The budget spent returns new sales and those customers become loyal repeat advocates. The reverse of course can be frustrating, investing hard earned cash into advertising your business with no obvious result.
With so many choices to get your message out to your customers (social media, direct selling, content marketing, webinars, print media, TV, radio and online advertising to name a few) increase the chance you’re spending your money wisely by following our seven promotional planning steps.
Step 1. Identify your exact target
If you can accurately segment and profile the type of customer you want to sell to, it’s easier to work out how to reach them.
Target segmentation examples:
- Female professionals, single, aged 20-30, earning over $100,000 per year
- Start-up software companies under two years of operation
- Owner-operator trade with under five employees working in residential renovations
- Retired couples, keen gardeners, aged 70+, living in their own home.
It may help to review your customer records and accounting data to get an accurate profile of the perfect customer and remember targets don’t need to be people; it could be a type of business.
Step 2. Find out their behavior
Conduct as much research as you can into what your target customer does and says to customize your message. It’s increasingly possible to position your advertising (especially online) to appeal to individuals (by tracking their online activity).
Find out about your target customer:
- Where they live (to know which regions to promote in)
- How they found you (so you know what advertising is working)
- What they do online (to decide where to advertise)
- The social media platforms they use (to help you participate)
- When they buy (to help schedule promotions).
A simple verbal survey next time you’re delivering to a customer is an ideal way to collect this information.
Step 3. Set your objectives
List what you want to achieve from each promotion. Objectives can be simple (ten new customers a week), harder (ten new customers a week spending over $2,000 each) or complex (ten new business customers a week to sign new contracts of service).
Keep your objectives short and measurable to help evaluate whether your promotional plan is working or not and be prepared to drop anything that doesn’t work for those tactics that do.
Step 4. Develop tactics
Outline specifically what you’re going to do to get in front of each target outlined in Step 1. Taking the retired couple as an example you could:
- Join the local bowling clubs and advertise in their newsletter
- Trial targeted advertising on Facebook
- Collaborate with complementary businesses targeting the same demographic
- Participate in relevant online social media
- Find a list of local relevant events and sponsor with a call to action.
Fit the tactics to your target, for example spending money on social media and getting to the top of search engines makes sense if your target is active online. If they’re not, then it doesn’t.
Use the behavioral evidence and data of what the majority of your target does and what they want, to better increase the chance they will pay attention to your promotions. There will always be the outliers (not all retired couples play bowls), but if there are enough customer types to constitute a viable market, then it’s probably worth your efforts.
Step 5. Develop a timeline
A timeline lays out all your promotional ideas throughout the year, which should be easier to do with the information you have about your target customers. A simple timeline and list will be fine which you can create on a spreadsheet or use the latest software and apps.
Step 6. Work out a budget
Determine how much it will cost for all of your promotional ideas, assign a budget for each activity, then add these numbers into your 12-month cash flow. For each tactic, calculate what level of sales you need to cover your costs by completing an advertising break-even. An example: if you spend $10,000 on a promotional idea and your gross profit on each sale is $1,000, then you’ll need ten sales to cover the advertising cost. Sell eleven and you’re in profit.
Step 7. Evaluate your results
Measure which promotions are working by asking, surveying and tracking as many sales as you can to confidently predict which methods were successful. Then simply repeat what worked best and stop the tactics that didn’t.
Once you’ve completed your plan, regularly review each step each year. You may find new customers to target, new ways of reaching them and new tactics to adopt as technologies, needs and wants change.