sales associates and for its customers as well—“so they understand the value proposition of the product.” And when Allied partners with a new sup- plier, the sales team is educated on how this supplier is different from its competitors, what its unique strengths are, and who its customers are.
The Questions—and the Answers • “Why?” The traditional goal of a sales promotion is an immediate increase in the sale of specific prod- ucts or services. However, Dave Musiel, brand planner for the market- ing agency Kerry Group, takes a wider view: “Sales promotions used to be for promoting short-term sales, but the strategy has broadened over time, especially with the advent of social media. Today, sales promotions are also used to impact longer-term sales and to affect brand preference and loyalty over time.” A proponent of building long-term business relationships, Art Snarzyk, who was employed as a contractor prior to founding the employment consultancy InnerView Advisors, said, “When clearly calling out who you’re talking to—electrical engineers, for example—one of the side benefits is that you may increase your audience. The engineers being targeted in a par- ticular sales promotion may not be candidates for that exact product, but they will see that you understand their concerns and challenges, and they may decide to watch your company for future offers or pass your commu- nication along to colleagues.” In addition to the traditional goals of increasing revenue, moving excess inventory, and expanding markets, Snarzyk cited other reasons: “Maybe the electrical distributor needs to rally its sales force. If morale has slipped during an economic lull, a sales pro- motion, especially if it includes incen- tives, may be the boost needed.” Some purchases are motivated by ego, Snarzyk added: “Buyers want to be seen as cutting-edge. If they learn
that a well-known leader in their in- dustry uses this product, they may be more inclined to make the purchase.” This especially holds true if the dis- tributor can show them a case study documenting the industry leader’s satisfaction with the product. Note that there’s a deeper level of “Why?” that must be addressed as well: Why should the customer buy the product or service you’re promot- ing? As Snarzyk pointed out, “Nobody buys products. They buy solutions to their problems. What results does the buyer gain from the product? • “What?” What is being sold in this promotion? A new service, e.g.,
integrated supply? A new or improved product? A new supplier? And what is the specific offer? Remember, it is the benefits that the product, service, or supplier offers that is being sold. Debbie Allen, marketing consul- tant and author of
10 Steps to Cre- ate a Successful Promotion, recom- mends spending 50% of your time writing a great headline that is bene- fit rich, noting, “You must hook their attention quickly.” According to Musiel, “The fallback is always to discount product, but I advise our clients against this practice since it erodes value and can lead to commoditizing the brand. The prefer- ence is to add, not erode, value—for example, product bundling, offering increased services based on higher spends, or manufacturing training on the new product.” • “When?” If customers look for- ward to a December holiday celebra- tion every year, don’t disappoint. Con- tractors may welcome promotions on tools in early spring as they inventory
their tool sheds and prepare for the busy season. If customers follow NASCAR, launch a race-themed pro- motion of power tools or renewable energy and make sure communica- tions clearly connect NASCAR’s power and energy with the high- performance products offered by the distributorship. Companies must know their cus- tomers. For example, avoid end-of- month offers if it’s common knowl- edge that monthly accounting is a challenge for customers. Email gets better traction if sent on a Tuesday or Wednesday, never Monday or Friday—unless the premium is a
cooler that’s perfect for weekend campouts and fishing trips. In addition to the usual, expected promotional events, consider adding one new, unique campaign each year. For example, for Father’s Day, part- ner with a heavy equipment operator to bring some construction equipment to a branch parking lot, where dads and their sons and daughters can be awed by the oversized equipment, sit in the operator’s seat, chow down on some barbecue, and take home a Cat or Kubota baseball cap. Display the associated personal protection equipment and some smaller tools in an exhibit area at one end of the food tent. Invite dads and their kids to reg- ister for complimentary admission to the upcoming Builders Expo at the nearby convention center. • “Where?” The answer is obvi- ous for those distributors that are opening a new branch or fortifying themselves against a new competitor that’s threatening one of their loca- tions. If a manufacturing partner
Today, sales promotions are also used
to impact longer-term sales and to affect brand
preference and loyalt; over ;ime.