What is a Promotional Mix?
In business theory, you have probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Promotion means “Promotional Mix” and it determines what actions you will need to take to reach your target customers and get your offerings into the market. Or, put plainly, it’s also about where you’re going to spend your “marketing bucks”. In fact, it’s this “P” that most people understand to be “marketing.”
What Are the Best Marketing Methods?
The truth is anything can work, but depending on your business, some things will be less costly, and more effective than others. The answer begins with your target customer.
If you had one target customer and you knew she worked in your city, what would you do to catch her attention?
a. Pay $3000 for an ad in her favourite trade magazine
b. Send out a letter or email to her office.
c. Call her.
If you picked “c”, you’re on our wavelength. Certainly, with only one target customer, giving her a call and asking her to meet you, perhaps over a coffee or offering to buy lunch would be the most obvious, and probably the most effective. And yes, it is better than email, because the sound of your voice is much more enticing than plain text can ever be within an email.
Now, in addition to calling her, there’s a good chance she’ll want to check out your website to see what you’re about, so you’ll also want to have a good name, image and information there in place, but remember that the heart of the Promotional Mix is you, or a whomever else will be making that sales call on your behalf.
Now, what if you want to gain 100 customers, and they are spread out all over your city, or perhaps further? Then things get more complex. A sales-anchored approach could still be your best bet, especially if you are targeting people within businesses, although it does take time. Or, you might use “inside sales” – and call them personally, chat, follow up with email or a sample. You could still plan to travel to meet the qualified ones who seem genuinely interested. If these are industry-specific customers, places that give you opportunities to reach several industry contacts at once are also a good idea: trade magazines (and their online equivalents), sponsoring industry associations, and even attending trade conferences. These are also great for your professional development in terms of education.
But what if you want to target say 1,000 or 10,000, or 100,000 customers, and let’s say any female homeowner is your target…now your marketing (promotional mix) has to grind a little harder. You could buy a list of names off a broker on the web (not recommended due to new CASL laws), and start telemarketing to try to get appointments, but really, the initial sales approach isn’t very efficient here. If you need to see customers face to face, it would perhaps be better to set yourself up in locations where they will be walking past you, or within range – and put signage where they will see it.
But there are other ways to reach a mass audience. Many radio stations have predominantly female audiences. Women are also on social media frequently. Creating social profiles and posting helpful “how to” content can attract the appropriate people to your website. There are tons of other ways as well – and you need to screen these methods through your “Will this actually reach my target customer?” lens. Here is a list of ideas to give you a kick-start. The price ranges represent “the lowest number for which you can get something professional” to a “sure to knock your customers’ socks off” solutions.
Base Level: Inexpensive Marketing Methods
- Choose a Great Business Name: The business name is a critical element to being remembered – and worth getting right. If you want to do-it-yourself, read our article on How to Name a Business. ($2000 – $10,000)
- Design a Logo: A logo is not always inexpensive, but it is a must-have. ($2000 – $10,000)
- Write a Slogan: A slogan is a short descriptive phrase. It’s optional, but can really reinforce your offering ($600 – $5000)
- Website: Developing a website can be free, or nearly free, from an online template (and we recommend using a WordPress template, so you can update it yourself) or be a substantial investment. It will cost less if you can write it yourself and supply the photography, but if you aren’t good at it, it’s always better to invest in a professional. To save money, put some really clear thought into what you want first – text and photos, on each page of the site. ($5000 – $50,000).
- Imagery: The problem with most websites online nowadays is that they all are using the same stock photography, which is generally quite dull (think: woman smiling while chatting and wearing a headset!) and overused. If you can get a good camera and take a series of images that are your own, you can take a basic website template and make it totally unique. Or, better yet, if you paint or draw, use illustrations as a theme, because you’ll look completely different from the competition. Professionally, you would likely pay $2000 – $20,000 for a nice set of images, depending on the profile of the artist, and their personal interest in assisting you.
- E-Newsletters: Free templates can be set up a platform such as MailChimp or any number of online e-newsletter programs. ($0 – $2000 for a template and then pulling content together, depending on whether you do it yourself, or get professionals to handle it).
- Social Media Profiles: Choose the social media platforms that will work best for you, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, and ensure that they are all branded to your business, and customized with logo, photo, and information. There is zero cost to doing so (assuming you do it yourself), and if you’re not sure of their function and setup, simply watch some how-to videos on YouTube. Be sure to get consistent “handles” so that they match wherever possible, i.e. @yourbusiness on all platforms.
- Write a Blog: Writing a blog is free if you do it yourself (or $100 – $1000/each if professionals do it, depending on length and level of technical content) and easy to do with blog-enabled website like WordPress. Creating a blog helps you keep your website content fresh. If you use an SEO plugin that comes with WordPress, you can add descriptions to your content, and headings, so that the content helps your site rank for whatever subjects you’re blogging about. Try to keep the blog content relevant to your business, and if you need ideas for blogs, search online for free keyword planning tools.
- Signage: Signage is a critical component of letting your neighbours know you exist. Signage should facilitate people easily finding your location, but also set the tone for what people can expect. A great sign sets up excitement for your business, and gives it a brand personality. (Huge range here…from a tiny $10 decal to a $100K backlit pylon sign). Go as big as you can get a permit for! It’s your one best billboard. In fact, I would suggest refreshing signage every few years if you can, just to grab attention.
- Classified Ads: Whether online or in a newspaper, classified ads are inexpensive and quite targeted. People searching for specific items can locate your ad by category, and it’s a great way to sell one-off or even ongoing inventory of various products. ($ 0 – 25/each)
- Community Newsletters: If you’re trying to reach into a specific community, the local area newsletter is a trusted resource. Rates are very reasonable, and businesses using this method are generally perceived to be “the neighbourhood’s own” resource ($50 – $500 depending on size of ad.)
- Outdoor Advertising: Outdoor advertising covers a variety of media, from lawn signs and bus benches (0 – $200/month) to shopping mall signs and mega-tron video boxes in football stadiums ($5,000 – $50,000 or more). You’d be surprised that if you want to spend a few hundred or a few thousand, you can make a physical presence in your community and build awareness and credibility quickly.
Mid Level: Not Inexpensive, but Affordable Marketing Methods
If you’ve covered off the least expensive methods, and are ready to reach the next level, consider these:
- Video: Videos are extremely worthwhile nowadays because they can be used for websites, online channels, social media or television, depending on the quality you shoot. ($2000 – $50,000)
- Sales Process Development & Training: If you hire a skilled person to develop your sales process and train your team, it can pay off many times over. ($5000 – $10,000)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Make sure your website is ranking using the help of an expert. This can ensure your content is working its hardest for you. ($1000 – $5000/mo depending on intensity). Some companies will also include writing and posting new blogs for your in their SEO service.
- Hiring Dedicated Sales Representatives: Salespeople are not inexpensive, but if you cannot do it yourself, it will certainly be worth having someone handle the role. ($30K (part time) – $200+K/yr)
- Localized Radio Broadcast Advertising: Getting your name on the radio helps people remember it. Attach with a musical slogan and it can become indelible in whichever market you target. ($3000 – $5000/mo per city of 1MM)
- Localized Television Advertising: Sponsoring or advertising around local television content can be a great way to magnify your presence, and become a recognized brand in the community. It can also be done on a much wider scale to build global brands. (Estimate $10,000 – $20,000/mo for a city of 1MM)
- Local Newspaper Advertising: Newspaper is a way to get “immediate” attention on a single day, such as for a splash sale. It is also a great way to build awareness of sales or promotions of price-sensitive items where listing pricing helps to facilitate the traffic (homes, cars, electronics) ($5000 – $8000 for a full page)
- Promotional Products: Items that you might brand with your logo – i.e. pens, clothing, giftware can be a great way to be remembered or to gain attention…we definitely recommend you check the quality and get good ideas from salespeople here.
- Direct Mail Campaigns: Some might argue this should have been listed in “inexpensive marketing methods” but these generally are somewhat costly in terms of either time delivering, or mailing costs. ($1 – $3 per household is typical, depending on what you’re sending).
- Online Advertising: There are tons of new online advertising vehicles to consider. YouTube Advertising Sponsorship, Google Pay Per Click Advertising, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and more. The good thing is that these ads can be very specific, and appear only when the user types in specific keyword searches that are relevant. The budget can also range from $1/day to $100/day or more – that’s the beauty of it – and you can pay by click-throughs (when someone actually visits your website) or by number of impressions, making is very easy to track effectiveness.
- Mobile Phone Advertising: How about an ad that goes to a mobile phone – via texting or a through a popular app? This media is still very new – programs are based on daily budget for impressions or clicks, $10- $100/day per zone).
Big Budget Marketing Methods
Of course, if you’re ready to go big or go home, here are some of the upper end methods you might consider.
- National Broadcast Television Advertising: National television advertising gets a product brand launched into the minds of consumers. Sometimes it is just plain necessary, especially when a product is something the public wouldn’t normally seek out, for example, a revolutionary health procedure, and it requires the credibility of television to be taken seriously. In this case, a public relations campaign to cover the story of your product would also be recommended as a public interest story. Other consumer products, if more easily understood without advertising, can simply be launched with distributors (such as through chain stores) and promoted using in-store means. ($10K+/mo per market)
- National Magazine or Newspaper Advertising: National credibility can also be built using well-established print media. This kind of advertising again has the effect of taking products that might be scary and making them seem more mainstream – think of all the disclaimers on the back of the pharmaceutical ads in magazines like People! ($10K – $250K for a full page+ each – check rate cards, most of which are online.)
- Celebrity Endorsements: Finally, if you have the deepest pockets, you can get celebrities to endorse your product. This of course comes with the risk that the celebrity may or may not instantly fall from grace due to various scandals. It’s a quick ticket to the big time, but it can certainly backfire. Always seek legal counsel if you’re considering this.
For any major budget investment, we recommend you enlist the help of a professional strategist (such as Tenato) and media buying agency (whom we will enlist on your behalf).
How to Build your Promotional Mix
Choose the promotional mix based on the volume, type, and geography of the target customers you are trying to reach. Choose whatever method is the most direct, the most obvious, and the most likely to give you immediate attention the most quickly – and ensure you allow enough budget to carry your campaign on steadily over time (quick hits are forgotten, whereas brand building takes time!). Avoid methods that offer only a “chance” of being seen by the right people.
And of course, ensure your entire promotional mix is being carefully tracked throughout so that you can measure what is working, and what is not.
Now, we know that this list is not exhaustive…and there really are an infinite number of ideas when it comes to marketing. If you’d like to add your ideas (or if you have a new advertising or promotional vehicle you think our readers should know about) let us know, and we’ll post your comments and links.
If you need a hand in planning your promotional mix, please CONTACT US today!
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