From the April 2011 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Developing a Promotional Plan

Many times, companies get in the habit of doing the same old promotions in the same old ways, and miss all kinds of additional opportunities in the process. It helps to take a step back once in a while, review where you want to go, and consider a variety of paths to get there.

Goals. When developing a promotional plan, always start by clarifying your goals. "Make more money" is too broad to help you define your course. More specific goals may include:

  • Generate new customers
  • Increase the average sale from existing customers
  • Grow your email list
  • Add more Facebook fans
  • Even out seasonal dips
  • Move excess inventory
  • Test new product categories

Each one will dictate a different path. Of course, you may have more than one goal, and your goals are likely to change at different times of the year. Clarifying your objectives in advance will help you define the most efficient course for getting where you want to go.

Offers. Many people equate "promotions" with discounts, but that's a narrow view, and often the least profitable one. Consider offers that incentivize customers to buy more, such as a free gift with purchase, buy two - get one free, or $10 off your next purchase.

If you're trying to grow your email list or Facebook fan base, offering a downloadable special report in exchange for subscribing or "liking" can be very effective, and very economical.

Always include an expiration date on your offers, as well as a coupon code so you can track their effectiveness.

Media. One of the easiest ways to boost your sales is by increasing the number of places you mention your promotions. Among the possibilities are:

  • Website
  • Promotional emails
  • Transactional emails
  • Direct mail or postcards
  • Package inserts
  • Packing slip
  • Phone (inbound or outbound)
  • Catalog
  • Newsletters
  • Facebook page
  • Facebook advertising
  • Forum or discussion groups
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Magazine ads
  • Card decks
  • Blog
  • Radio
  • TV

Some are more appropriate for reaching new prospects, while others are better for communicating with established customers. Whether using a particular medium makes sense depends on your market, your average sale, and your profit margins. While not every medium is likely to work for you, there are probably far more viable ones than you realize.

Products. When your promotions revolve around specific product choices, which are best to feature? That depends on your goals.

Best sellers, top reviewed products and staff picks are one place to start. Overstocked items are another. Checking your weblogs to see what people search for most frequently may lead to other possibilities. If you're trying to increase your average sale, try offering a great deal on products of widespread interest during the checkout process.

Timing. Gardening is such a seasonal business that your goals are likely to be quite different in different seasons. Keep that in mind when mapping out your plan, and don't forget to include seasonal offers whenever they're appropriate.

Putting It All Together. While you're in the height of busy season now, you may be able to add a few promotions on the fly. Once things settle down, take some time to plot out a year's worth of promotions, keeping the suggestions above in mind. I guarantee you'll uncover money you've been leaving on the table somewhere!


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Helpful Articles

For helpful how-to articles from past issues of Let’s Grow, our newsletter of marketing insights for the garden industry, click on the links below.