Activation 101: Classic Tips for Using Sales Promotion to Activate Your Consumers

Activation 101: Classic Tips for Using Sales Promotion to Activate Your Consumers

[icon name=”icon-bullseye” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] Crossing the critical “last yard” in marketing[/icon]


For marketing campaigns to be successful in arousing consumer demand, businesses have to know what their consumers want…and find the right way to get that message to them.   That’s hard work, yet success depends on more than just about reaching consumers.  You’ve got to convert them, and using consumer activation and sales promotion strategies is critically important to that process — now more than ever, what with the enormous competition for the consumer’s attention, let alone for their dollar.

It’s the “last yard” in marketing: how do you get consumers to take that final step of purchase or conversion? In order to successfully capture consumer activation, marketers have to be on-trend and on-target, not just with products but also with their promotional tactics. But many marketers don’t realize the sheer importance of consumer activation, or how many different options are out there for converting their target.

So we’re presenting this topline toolkit.  If you’re a marketer who hasn’t immersed yourself yet in the potential of activation marketing, it’s a good jumping-on point where you can start to explore the right activation tools to maximize activation, beef up your bottom line – and develop closer, more profitable engagement with your audience.


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] In-Store Promotions[/icon]


In-store efforts to sway consumers are at the core of many promotional campaigns.  Instead of simply running ads and hoping your product flies off the shelves, a more proactive and visible (because “in-your-face” sounds too pushy) in-store promotion can keep your products zipping through the registers.  Let’s face it: the sales battle is won or lost at the shelf or freezer case.image-lev1-double-dunk-coupon-zoom

So coupon dispensers, point-of-sale displays and other tactics cut through in-store clutter and attract the attention of shoppers while also offering incentives to buy.  Even better, displays that tie together several products and spur multiple purchases can also give your in-store performance a kick in the pants and help your company create immediate sales lift, while helping in the never-ending quest to capture additional SKUs.


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] On-Packs and Special Displays [/icon]


Using on-pack tactics or special displays, shippers and super-displays in-store can really focus consumer attention on specific products or groBarbara's LEGOups of products within your brand family.  Neck hangers on a bottle, for example, might promote anything from a buy-one-get-one-free  (BOGO, baby!) to a mail-in SLO offer, and can highlight new products to promote sales or revitalize fading brands that need a little extra goose to maintain viability and visibility.  A “violator” or other special package graphic can draw notice to a special offer, tie-in or cross-marketing initiative.

Promo codes on packages can drive people to a website for redemption, or even let them redeem right at checkout.  Even “dump bins” and end-caps filled with your product can help break up the visual monotony of the standard store trip for shoppers, seizing their attention when they would otherwise just stroll on past your(and right past your regular SKUs.


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] Promo Codes [/icon]



There’s a reason they’re everywhere: promo codes are the consumer’s ever-so-tempting pathway to Savings!  Prizes!  Free Shipping!  Even Apple isn’t above using them to drive interest, as you can tell by the iTunes example at right.  Promo codes just plain work, and allow you to not just give your target audience an incentive to buy, but also give any marketer the ability to track and analyze the efficacy of a given placement.

You can let consumers redeem them any number of places, too: at the register, at an ecommerce site, over their mobile devices.  The only limit on how you apply promo codes as a tactic is your imagination — and what you can afford to redeem, of course.  Protecting yourself is just a matter of putting a ceiling on the number of codes that you redeem, or time limits, or other constraints that limit your liability — and increase the urgency the consumer feels about using those codes, right now!


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] Integrated Promotions[/icon]


Using specific sales promotion deals or offers becomes more powerful if it’s integrated with out-of-store tactics like the traditional FSI or a digital awareness tactic.  It’s a tried-and-true way to get retailers excited about your brands, too, and gain shelf and display space; what category manager at a grocery or big-box store doesn’t appreciate knowing there’s a traffic-driving FSI drop or digital media program out there sending shoppers to the aisles?  Especially if those media drops (or even the promotions themselves) are account-specific, directing consumers to a specific retailer?SM_LoraxFSI_Aug5_FINAL

It’s sexy to consider digital and mobile tools as somehow supplanting the last generation of delivery “platforms,” but there are still a lot of people using those platforms — for example, 287 billion Free Standing Insert (FSI) coupons were distributed in 2013,  a 4.5 percent increase in activity  compared to 2012, according to a Kantar Media study.


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] Online, Social Media and Mobile Promotions[/icon]



As more and more people make the switch to shopping online or via mobile devices, incorporating new sales promotion concepts that suit this space is vital to ensuring you’re keeping up with shopper trends and capturing digital-based conversions. Some of the most effective options include Internet-only coupons, timed online offers that require immediate action, and deals that are redeemable only through your online store.QR

These promotional tools help funnel commerce to your website and away from standard brick-and-mortar stores, but can still integrate with in-store activity: a QR code or other mechanism at shelf can direct consumers to a promotional microsite, or activate a “value-added” download, as just two examples.

For businesses that operate exclusively on the Internet, or those that simply want to take a more technology-based retail approach, leveraging these new tactics is vital.  Best of all, the agility and flexibility of digital tools let you experiment — so you can see, nearly in real-time, what offers work best.


[icon name=”icon-circle-arrow-right” size=”1x” color=”#333333″ align=”left”] Trade-Side Incentives[/icon]


Of course, if you work with a smart and dedicated sales promotion agency, targeting consumers isn’t the only piece of the sales puzzle. Don’t forget your wholesalers, dealers, and retailers, all valuable partners in the sales promotion process — provided you offer enough incentives for them to get on board with your next promotional marketing campaign.

Contests that reward outlets or salespeople that sell the most product or comply with merchandising guidelines, recognition programs that highlight top performers…programs like these all help motivate the people on the trade side to push your product.  For any business that’s serious about having an effective activation marketing campaign, attacking on both the consumer and trade sides is crucial to real success.

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