Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Small Businesses Can do Customer Focused Promotions

Many small business owners see the big box stores doing promotions and wish they could do that. They can do them but differently and quite often more effective. It only takes some careful thought and partnering.


Sales promotion spending has grown dramatically in recent years because a good planned out promotion drives people into the store and can generate purchases. In today’s very competitive environment, sometimes a promotion gives the edge to a retailer and creates an opportunity to make a life-long customer once he gets into the store.

How to Get New Customers

If a store’s product mix is in the mature life cycle stage, then only growth can come from stealing market share (customers) from a competitor. If the store’s mix is commodity with few distinctive features, then the marketing of all store’s is relatively the same.  Finally, with America coming out of its worst recession in decades, spenders are slowly opening their purses and are looking for reasons to buy – hence a promotion.

Sales promotions are not meant to generate long term behavior changes but rather short term increases in sales.   This increase is caused by the change in the price/value relationship a consumer sees in a product. For example, a customer sees a lower price for the same value product, this can cause a change in decision on which to purchase very quickly.

Small Business Efficient Promotions Strategies

How can a small business owner effectively do promotions? When asked that question in both
my classes and counseling sessions, I ask questions back.  I often start by “who is the target audience you are trying to reach?” “Tell me more about them beyond just age, gender, marital status etc.- tell me why they buy this product?” These and other questions get the owner thinking more in depth about why do a promotion.  

The Effect of Promotions

Once we have more knowledge of the audience, the promotion can be planned to better appeal to them.  For example, I once had a client in my advertising career, who wanted to generate more traffic parents with children.  After doing some research, I came up with the grand prize of two electric race cars to be given away. We sought out partners and the local Coke bottler signed on and became the main sponsor.  They got displays at the front of the store and end aisle and the car prominently placed on the top of the product.  The results were overwhelming.  The store sold more Coke in two weeks than they had sold in months and definitely noticed an increase in families in the store. Coke was happy because they were selling more to the store than they had recent months since Pepsi had agreed to higher slotting fees and gotten more shelf space.

As local store owner, a great place to start planning is with your local media partners. They have many opportunities to help you plan promotions and can be very efficient in reaching your target audience. Also, my office is always willing to help small business owners plan out their events.  Your local Cape Girardeau County SBTDC can be reached by contacting Richard Proffer at 573-243-3581 or emailing him at

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