Successful companies know that sales promotions are among the most effective methods of increasing sales and building customer satisfaction. Sales promotions have been used for decades to great success, and no matter what your industry or the size of your business, there are sales promotion tips and techniques that can benefit you. With so many ways to promote your business with or without money, there is no need to suffer from sluggish revenue.
Related: Marketing Without a Budget (free eBook)
What is a Sales Promotion?
A sales promotion is any undertaking by an organization designed to increase sales or encourage the use or trial of a product or service. Sales promotions take many different forms, but they all focus on persuading a target audience to make a purchase or become a client of a business.
Sales promotions are just one type of marketing strategy but are often confused with advertising. In fact, the two are different, as each appeals to a different nature of the consumer. Advertising is emotional in nature and invites consumers to purchase products or services through visceral images, sounds, or alluring experiences. Sales promotions, in contrast, appeal to a customer’s logic and rational mind. Sales promotions—“buy one, get one free,” for example—are immediately quantifiable in a customer’s mind.
Sales Promotion Examples
There are many different types of sales promotion activities you can pursue. Unlike advertising, sales promotions don’t necessarily present upfront costs. Sales promotion activities are common in both consumer and business-to-business markets, and can help your customers in their decision-making process.
Here are some sales promotion examples for your reference:
Fairly self-explanatory. There are many ways to utilize this particular sales promotion technique. A restaurant, for example, may offer free dessert with the purchase of a meal. An electronics store may offer free batteries to customers. Chik-Fil-A recently launched a popular promotion where they offered the first 100 customers to their newly-opened stores free chicken sandwiches for a year. Massage Envy often offers a free one-hour massage with the purchase of a $150 gift card—who doesn’t love a free massage?
Costco uses this method with great success. By providing samples to all customers in the store, regardless of whether they purchase something, they encourage customers to buy products they may not have considered before. Small businesses don’t have the budget that Costco does but can still provide free samples to customers.
Do you have a new product that you’re trying to sell? Give out samples! This works best with food but can also work at spas and salons with tester lotions and perfumes or aromatherapy products. If you’re promoting a new face product, let people try it out! People like something they can try before buying.
Everybody loves a deal, and as Black Friday and Cyber Monday consistently demonstrate year after year, consumers will go crazy over a good price. Use holidays and events in our 2018 Marketing Calendar to your advantage by having sales or specials at your business.
Joint promotions can be done both between brands owned by a single company, or between brands owned by separate companies. Joint promotions are easy if you know other business owners in a similar or related industry. Offer them some of your products or services to be bundled into a package at their business and offer the same bundle at yours. This is free promotion for each of you at the other owner’s business.
Vouchers and Coupons
These are offered in magazines, newspapers, on product packaging, and online. You can offer vouchers and coupons via email to your email list or as a thank you when people subscribe to your blog or email newsletter.
Social Media Contests and Giveaways
Purchasing a product provides a consumer entry to these giveaways. Such sales promotions are particularly popular with food items such as chips and sodas, which provide prizes related to the business inside the packaging or offer codes on bottle caps. But you can do the same with a Facebook or Instagram giveaway to get new customers interested in your business.
Fair-Trade, Made in the USA, and Cause-Related Products
Products that are either fair-trade or contribute to a charitable cause are sales promotion tools that are rarely recognized as such. However, such products can not only benefit a charity, but also the business selling them as well. GAP and Apple, for example, both received great reception to their (RED)-branded products, a percentage of whose sale prices went to supporting HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.
But small businesses can do these promotions as well. If your products are produced or manufactured domestically, brand your business as “Made in the USA.” If your coffee shop’s coffee is all free-trade, make it known! People seek out businesses whose values are aligned with their own so if something is important to you, chances are it’s important to customers.
Buy-one-get-one-free deals (aka BOGO) are among the most well-used promotional methods. Within business circles, they are often referred to as “self-liquidating” promotions because they encourage the clearing of stock. Still, rarely do buy-one-get-one-free promotions cost a business anything. In fact, they are designed to increase revenue. For example, say it costs a business 10 cents to produce a loaf of bread. If that bread is sold for two for $1, that business still makes a profit. In fact, profits soar because more bread is sold.
BOGO deals work with more than just product-based businesses; they also work for services. Fitness studios, spas, salons, consultants, and trainers can offer BOGO deals on their classes or trainings as a way of filling their schedules or getting new clients during the slow season. Since service-based businesses are more time than product-value related, the only thing you’re losing is time and during the off-season, a BOGO deal will be well worth the investment if it leads to new customers in the long run.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Punch cards are a common example of customer relationship incentives. For example, a customer gets a stamp for every coffee drink she buys, and after the 6th stamp, she is eligible for a free drink. Other customer retention and loyalty programs include an insiders club where there is a small fee buy-in that gives customers extra discounts and first pick of services as well as client referral programs.
Free Lead Generation Guide
Sales promotions are just one of many ways to generate leads for your business. Fill out the form below to get a free guide with even more lead generation ideas and tips.
This post was published in December 2015 and updated October 2018