No more promoter promotions. What should we do?
In the new context surrounding the pandemic, some retailers do not accept promoters or have imposed rules that are difficult to meet. Next year, we expect marketing budgets to be smaller, so an action with promoters will be hard to include in the plan. This is the right time to change the paradigm and find other solutions, which can only be digital.
This article is very pragmatic and I suggest some solutions to consider, to the extent that your business allows. Change is uncomfortable and success is not achieved immediately, but through experimentation, by trying different options and improving them step by step. That’s why it’s good not to go back to the way we did things before, to what worked before, to what the consumer was used to. New proposals may seem difficult, expensive, or out of reach, but any start is hard. We’re going to have at least one economic cycle where things are going to work like this, with less direct contact, with the growth of e-commerce, with fewer visits to physical shops, so it’s time to change the approach. In new times, we look for new solutions.
There are other mechanisms besides the random draw
It’s customary to do prize draws, but there are more interesting ways to offer prizes in campaigns. Just a few examples:
– The first 100 who sign up, monthly, automatically get a prize – a voucher, to avoid logistical costs.
– Enter products, not just the receipt. Maybe on a receipt, there are 5 SKUs. Those who have the most products purchased weekly are guaranteed a prize. We thus encourage more purchases.
– Implement creative mechanisms, such as the number of the receipt is like a vault code – see if your receipt opens the vault where a prize is waiting. If you hit even one digit that is part of the vault number, you win a smaller prize. It’s not the big prize, but people are happy when they get something, even in smaller values.
– Another creative mechanism is Mix&Match, handy when you have multiple SKUs on promotion. Every day, you have a winning combination of products. If you buy that combination exactly (for example, strawberry chocolate and vanilla chocolate) you automatically win a prize.
– Guaranteed discount vouchers on complementary products. Did you buy some bread? You win a guaranteed 10 lei voucher for an online grocery with homemade jams. Use the explosion of online shops to offer vouchers (money/discounts) to them as guaranteed prizes. Often you can get them at a considerable discount, so a win-win-win – guaranteed prizes for everyone, a positive perception of your brand, and new customers for your partner online shop.
Communicating offline promotions online
Often, if we didn’t have national promotions, communicating promotional or prize campaigns was done almost exclusively in-store. The paradigm has shifted, in-store traffic has declined, so it’s good for a consumer to know your promotion before they get to the shelf. This means that digital is no longer the preserve of the digital or brand team, but part of the everyday life of the trade marketer.
How can these communications be made more effective?
– Create the promotion from the Facebook community – let’s ask consumers what prizes they would like to receive by responding in comments or voting with pre-defined items.
– Make dedicated communications on your brand’s social media pages – just posting visuals isn’t enough. Make dedicated content, and games, announce winners here and invite people to the site.
– Use influencers to go live on Facebook or Instagram right from the store to bring more credibility.
– Avoid building more basic sites with a receipt entry form, product list, winners, and rules. Every second the consumer is on the site is one more chance they’ll love you and buy from you next time. Set goals to increase the time the consumer spends on the site – a minimum of 2 minutes. So, add content, quizzes, games, videos, infographics, and recipes. Yes, it’s more complicated, but the impact is greater and with both momentary and longer-term effects. And it still costs as much as the promoters.
– Insert e-commerce button, so people buy online too. Even if they don’t buy, at least they find out where. Consumers start to get used to promotions that only take place in one retailer and start asking Where do I buy from?
Some studies have MRI scanned consumers’ brains while they were shown different brands. The result? For the preferred brand, the pleasure center was activated in the brain. So, people are emotionally attached to brands they use frequently and consumer objects are created so ingrained that buying is on autopilot. Hence the enormous frustration of these loyal consumers, who are not valued at all by brands and are not even lucky enough to win. How many times have you not seen comments like ”I buy from you all the time and I’ve earned nothing?”
What you can do for these consumers are loyalty platforms – where consumers enter their receipts, they turn them into points/stars, and based on them they receive different benefits – it can be free products, discount vouchers, prizes, or even more emotional benefits – for example, they are the first to receive a newly launched product at home for testing. Such a platform requires an initial investment of tens of thousands of euros, about the same as 1-2 campaigns with promoters, but it is a long-term project and develops a loyal, attached community that will tell their friends about it, thus amplifying your efforts. The results are more profound and impactful now, but especially in the longer term.
Globally, chatbots are so common that services have sprung up for as little as €10 a month that allows you to make your Messenger Bot without the need for code. Globally, it is estimated that 50% of consumers have already interacted with a bot, and in the next 5 years, 75% of customer service will be automated through them. With a chatbot deployed in Facebook Messenger, a consumer learns about promotions, enters the voucher, wins prizes, and leaves the delivery address, all automatically and in a way that is simple and fun for the consumer. That means thousands of euros saved in logistical costs, no need to make a promotional website every time, and consumers learn to chat even if they don’t see a specific promotion. This forms a routine outside of the promotional activity communicated in-store.
With the accelerated growth of online commerce, the testing component of new products is problematic. Consumers will tend to add products they already know to their basket, many stores offer the option to order the same purchase as before, which reduces weekly shopping to just one click. Even without this option, online shopping is less impulsive than in-store shopping, so the chances of a consumer buying a new product are lower than in-store, where there are placements and shelf highlights. That’s why test platforms are being developed globally, but we’re still in the early stages. Consumers are setting up accounts and requesting certain products for testing. These are awarded on different criteria – either demographic or behavioral (consumers have to post about the product on social media/write a review on an e-commerce site). Most of the time, these platforms aggregate multiple product categories, but can also be a good solution for companies that have multiple brands under their umbrella.
There are product categories that are highly suitable for repeated consumption (from coffee to grooming products, from pet food to beer). Here, an online platform where consumers can sign up for product subscriptions is a good solution. Consumers can select different product packages or create their package, which they can receive periodically, automatically paying a subscription. Why remember to buy coffee when you can have a monthly or half-yearly subscription and have it delivered straight to your home. These platforms focus on routine and simplifying the consumer’s life, but they’re not as boring as they seem. On the contrary, these subscriptions can include new products launched, promotions on different products can be made periodically – for example, for the 3 summer months and only then, receive coffee for frappe in addition to your usual coffee. There are multiple successful models out there for almost every category in stores, such as Dollar Shave Club (razor blades), Birchbox (cosmetics), SnackNation (various snacks), HomeChef (ingredients needed for certain recipes), Murray’s Cheese of Month Subscription (to cheeses), Craft Beer Club, Horti (houseplants). Most packages combine several brands, but there are also uni-brand solutions. It’s also a good option for retailers, who can curate tens of thousands of products from those they sell in stores anyway.
So that’s how many new approaches there are. Some require more financial investment, but not exorbitant, especially if you don’t see them one-off, but at least for a few months. Others are really simple to do, as long as we take a side step and allow ourselves to be creative and brave.
*The article also appeared in the November issue of Progresiv Magazine, on pages 3-31.
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