So you have a product and have set your price. Will the world come running to your doorstep? Not unless people know about your product - you must promote it. Set the stage for sales with a thoughtfully developed promotion plan.
A promotion plan outlines the promotional tools or tactics you plan to use to accomplish your marketing objectives. To the new or inexperienced marketer, the promotion plan might be mistaken as the entire marketing plan because it outlines where the majority of the marketing budget will be spent. It is, however, just one component of the marketing plan - there are additional strategy and planning components described in a marketing plan.
You might choose to include the following components in your promotion plan:
- Description (or listing) of the promotional tactics you plan to use.
- Projected costs for the year.
- Explanation of how your promotion tactics will support your marketing objectives.
- Description of promotional adjustments for cyclical businesses, if yours is indeed cyclical.
Laying the Groundwork for Effective Promotional Tactics
When you're deciding upon the best promotional strategy for reaching your target market, you need to:
- Do research
- Keep your customer in mind
- Be creative
Doing research includes activities such as studying your target market and finding out what other businesses in your industry are doing. A relatively quick way to learn how your competitors communicate their marketing messages is to look in trade journals. This will give you an idea of which features they believe are important and are emphasizing.
Keeping your customer in mind will help prevent wasting your money and time on ineffective promotional activities. For example, it obviously won't help to advertise in the newspaper if your target audience doesn't read it.
Description of Promotional Tactics
The major component to your Promotion Plan is the description (or listing) of the planned promotional tactics you plan to use.
There are many promotional tools and each one is easily the subject of an entire book. In fact, there are many good books available on the subjects listed here. You could also try Web searches. Remember that all sales promotions should dovetail with and support your selling strategies and your company image.
A partial list of promotional tools is listed below:
- Print advertising such as that in programs for events, trade journals, magazines, newspapers
- Direct mail
- Outdoor advertising, such as billboards and bus boards
- Broadcast advertising on radio and TV (or Internet sites)
You might choose to produce and distribute materials such as:
Also be sure your package design is appropriately informative and catchy. (For a service business, your "package design" will be the atmosphere of your office, the design of your company collateral and, most importantly, the appearance of you and your staff.)
- Sponsorships for special events (like fun runs)
- Participation in community projects and boards of directors
- Trade Shows - Your product or service might be one that is suited to exhibiting at a trade show attended by your target audience. Trade shows are typically one- or two- day events that allow businesses to set up exhibits or booths showcasing their products or capabilities.
- Fairs (like Health Fairs, Job Fairs)
- Give-aways (like baseball caps and mugs with your logo)
- Coupons and free samples
- Conducting contests
Public Speaking and Conferences
Making speeches at conferences, professional association meetings and other events positions you and your company as a leader in your field. Attending conferences is also an opportunity to make valuable contacts that lead to sales.
Publications such as newsletters, trade journals and books.
Media Relations Campaigns
A campaign is your overall plan for contacting and staying in touch with targeted members of the media (reporters). You might want to develop a media relations campaign if it would benefit your company to be mentioned in newspaper, magazine or TV broadcasts viewed by your target audience. Developing press releases, press kits and public service announcements could be included in your media relations campaign.
Estimate your costs as accurately as possible.
Show the Relationship Between the Promotional Tactics and Marketing Objectives
Refer to or list again relevant objectives from the Marketing Objectives section of your marketing plan and point out how you will accomplish them using the promotion plan.
Remember to have a specific objective by which you can measure your success or failure in each specific area. A specific objective states what you want to do by when and is measurable. An example of a good, measurable objective is: "To distribute 500 flyers by June 1." A poor example of an objective is: "To tell people about my business." The poor example is not measurable. It doesn't say how you will tell people about your business, how many people you want to reach or by when. If you tell two people about your business in a year, have you been successful?
Adjustments for Seasonality
If yours is a seasonal or cyclical business, explain how your promotional plan will be adjusted for the slow and peak seasons.