When it comes to marketing promotions, timing is everything. Here are some ways the timing of your promotions can boost sales.
1. Seasonal promotions: Some promotions work best when timed to the seasons, such as summer or winter clothing, garden supplies in spring or back-to-school supplies at the end of summer.
2. Holiday promotions: These days, it’s basically an American tradition to hold sales on every major holiday—and most minor ones. It helps to tie your promotions into the holiday themes, such as pizza shops and bakeries discounting pies on National Pi Day (celebrated on March 14 every year). Don’t overlook the “silly” holidays, such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, either.
3. Cyclical promotions: Time promotions to boost sales during typically slow times of the year, such as your off-season. During extremely competitive times of year, you’ll need to increase your promotional efforts. Your customers’ sales cycles matter, too. Complex or costly purchases need a longer promotion time.
4. Event-based promotions: Consider tying promotions into events such as your business’s anniversary, election day, the Olympics or a community event.
5. Last-minute promotions: Always be ready to profit from the unexpected. A sudden cold snap could make promotions on scarves and gloves profitable. Next time there’s an unexpected downpour, set up a display of rain gear at the front of your store. E-commerce businesses can hold flash sales tied to trending events, like an unexpected upset on Monday Night Football.
6. Purchase-based promotions: When a customer purchases a new winter coat, offer them a discount on a scarf or gloves to go with it. E-commerce businesses should have related products pop up (at a discount) on the checkout page.
7. Repeat customer promotions: Give customers who spent $50 at your business a gift card good for $10 — valid for the following month. This helps ensure a steady stream of customers come back to spend their gift cards.
8. Limited-time promotions: If business is slow, try sending a limited-time offer or discount by text message, or posting it on social media. For example, a restaurant could offer a 2-for-1 lunch special from 11:30 to 1:30 only. Just be sure to use limited-time offers sparingly, or customers may come to rely on them.
How to Time It Right
How can you figure out what promotional timing is likely to be most effective? Start by reviewing your past years’ sales and marketing data. When do sales spike or ebb? What promotions work best when? Do certain kinds of customers buy at specific times?
Review your digital marketing and sales analytics. What dates and times of day do your email, social media or mobile marketing messages get the best results? Sending an email promotion at 3 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. could make all the difference.
Let customers control the timing of the messages they receive. Instead of sending your subscribers marketing emails once a week, allow subscribers to customize their settings and get messages monthly, weekly or more often.
Watch your competitors’ promotions. If every other restaurant in town is offering a Valentine’s Day special, how can you time it differently? How about an order-ahead catered Valentine’s dinner for customers to pick up, or a day-after-Valentine’s Day special for singles?
Plan It Out
Create a marketing calendar to plan the best times for specific promotions. Build in time for anything that requires advance planning, such as placing ads or revising your website copy. That way, you won't miss any deadlines or get caught short when the time for a particular promotion is right.
Marketing automation software can help you time promotions perfectly by scheduling emails to send automatically when customers take certain actions. Drip, Infusionsoft and Zoho Campaigns are three marketing automation tools to look into.
Finally, always include restrictions and deadlines in your time-based marketing materials, so customers will never be taken by surprise.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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