As a retailer, are you offering standard sales promotions like, “buy one get one free”, or “10% off” on specific items, but not seeing the results you wanted? Getting customers to part with their hard-earned money remains a painfully difficult process in the post-recession economy. That’s exactly why promotions are so important in order to lure in potential customers. When executed well, promotions get customers out of their holding pattern by giving them an incentive to take action before an offer expires. Here are some tactics to make your sales promotions stand out to customers.

Target Your Efforts

Promotions not only drive purchases by well-established customers; they can also attract new customers, peel in customers from your competitors, get established customers to buy differently than their usual patterns, and stimulate business during traditionally slow quarters. But a single promotion can’t drive all of these strategies at once. That’s why it’s important to target your efforts and zero in on a goal. Do you want customers to purchase more frequently, or be attracted to new and different products? Do you want new customers? Do you want to boost business during slow periods? It’s only after you thoughtfully define the audience you want and the change you want to achieve that you can carefully design your sales promotion to accomplish your goals.

Plan Your Sales Promotion

A well-planned, properly targeted sales promotion inspires customers to take action. These initiatives generally involve one of three incentives:

  • Price savings, including discounts, coupons or added value offers
  • Samples or trial offers to provide customers a low-risk way to try new products or services
  • Events or experiences to generate crowds, enthusiasm, sales, and publicity (e.g. Record Store Day, Indie Bookstore Day, etc.)

As you plan out your sales promotion, it’s important to keep certain realities in mind. Price savings must be compelling enough to attract customers, but reasonable enough not to ding your bottom line. Avoid truly deep discounts unless they promote a loss leader to generate other high value sales, or unless you think they’ll attract valuable new customers into your business on a regular basis. Digital coupons offer a great way to test price offers with friends and fans before distributing them more widely. Samples let customers try before buying, and often win rave reviews and promote repeat business.

Keep Your End Goal in Mind

Promotions work well to inspire customers into taking action, but be clear about the change you want to accomplish. Set the number of sales you want to achieve, dollars you want to bring in, customer names you want to collect, buying patterns you want to adapt, or any other objective you want your retail sales promotion to achieve. By knowing the bottom-line impact of your retail sales promotion, you’ll have the information you need to identify a budget, dedicate staff time and invest the energy necessary to host a strong promotion that will deliver the results you have in mind.

Have a sales promotion you’re proud of? Share a few details with us in the comments!