One of the things that keeps a business going and keeps interest being generated (especially in small businesses or ones with serious niche markets) is attention-generating promotions. The primary problem with these promotions is that they, in and of themselves, cost money to run. However, for the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that your business already has enough funding to support doing promotions, and instead are going to focus on how and when promotions can be run in order to achieve the maximum impact.
Think of all the “regular” promotions you know about from the mainstream business world – all of them have one thing in common. Promotions are usually themed. And while you can pick a random theme, or one specific to your niche of business, it’s far better (and will reach a wider audience) if you theme your promotions around something that people already recognize and identify with. And as we are very quickly approaching the end of this year, everyone knows the pattern to expect. Halloween is followed by Thanksgiving is followed by Christmas – not to mention Hanukkah and Yule and all the other holidays for various religions and cultures that occur around the same general time period. Then, of course, there’s New Years, and in less than two months Valentines Day, then St. Patrick’s Day – the list just goes on and on. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find more than four months in the year in which there is not some sort of internationally (or nationally at least, in the case of Fourth Of July) recognized holiday.
This is exactly why holidays provide the perfect reason to have a celebratory sale or other type of promotion. What types of promotions go well with holidays? There are four very basic ones that, of course, will have to then be tailored to any specific business you happen to be dealing with, but that doesn’t change that the four types are still fairly easy to work with.
1. A present – buy one get one free.
Who isn’t tempted by the prospect of free stuff? It doesn’t really matter what it is – most people will jump at the chance to get something, anything, for free. Perhaps all you have to offer is something as simple as half an hour of consultation, or something as elaborate as a free ebook or other product you can attach to another as a “gift with purchase.” These types of promotions go well with gift-giving holidays such as Christmas, but they can easily be adapted to work with just about any holiday if the theming is done well.
2. A free sample.
This one is a bit more of a gamble on the part of the business – there’s no promise that a single person you offer something for free will actually buy or become a customer of your business. a simple actual give away can have the potential to hurt your business if it isn’t done right.
However, with proper theming and consideration, a free gift can be just what’s needed to whet the appetites of people who otherwise might not have sampled your business’ wares – and that’s exactly what you’re hoping for when doing this type of promotion. Not every type of business has anything they can easily give away, however. What if you’re a law firm or something like that? That’s the wonderful thing – the give away does not have to be something physical.
You can give away a free consultation (half an hour or so should do – beyond that, and they need to be paying in to support the time of the lawyer or other professional they’re consulting with). You can give away a sample of your writing, a five hundred word story perhaps, in ebook format. Something that costs the business nothing except a bit of time. Done well, this type of promotion can be very successful at getting the people to return and actually purchase.
3. A sweepstakes.
This one is a bit more fun – it turns the holiday into a themed game that your customers will be able to play. A little more costly, though, as your business has to front prizes or else this isn’t exactly a valid type of promotion. However, as long as you do something like offering raffle tickets or lottery drawings (not the official lottery, mind you – an internal company one that will choose what customers win), and they must purchase something from your business in order to enter the sweepstakes drawing, then it should work out well.
The trick here is that your business doesn’t have to pay for many things that will be given away – just a few things will work. New copies of books, signed by the author. Or perhaps something prepared especially for the sweepstakes – a one of a kind item that will be raffled off. This type of holiday promotion is excellent for those “little” holidays like St. Patrick’s Day or Fourth of July.
4. A “collect-to-win”.
This one is the trickiest to work out. It involves the same situation as the sweepstakes, however there is a catch. Instead of purchases getting your customers an entrance into a drawing, the purchases get your customers one of several “game pieces” that need to be collected in a specific set in order to win the prize. The catch? One of the game pieces only has one or two versions of it hidden somewhere in the masses of papers you’re giving out.
These types of promotions usually run for a limited time. It’s entirely possible that your customers won’t ever find that “one of a kind” piece that they need. In which case, no “big payout” is necessary. However, it’s also nice to offer consolation prizes to people who collect most of the pieces. Or, most popular, “instant win” pieces hidden within the mess of pieces that will entitle them to something small and simple, but they’ll still feel that they won. This is an excellent choice for Halloween – it comes with a real “trick or treat” feeling of never knowing what you’ll get.
These are just some of the ways of making holiday promotions draw attention to your business. Promotions, especially around holidays, are invaluable for attracting new customers to any type of business. How are you going to handle the next holiday at yours?
[image credit: DC Central Kitchen]