When All Else Fails in Your Promotion

There is an important rule that underlies all promotion and that is doing something is better than doing nothing unless you are wandering into Negative Impact Promotion territory.

Negative Impact Promotion is simply promotional material (whether it is a business card, flyer, letter, brochure, web site, e-mail, blog, tweet, post etc.) that actively damages your business and drives customers away.  It contains one or more of the below errors:

  • Spelling Mistakes
  • Poor Grammar
  • Poor or Cheap material
  • Badly Finished Material
  • Out-of-focus Pictures
  • Missing Information
  • Wrong Information
  • Out of Date Information
  • Misleading Statements
  • Too much hyperbole

It can also occur when your promotion promises more than your company can feasibly deliver, i.e. “over-promising and under-delivering”.

So after all my articles on the importance of getting your marketing right, why am I saying that doing something is better than doing nothing?

Promotion is a vital part of marketing but it is not all of it.  As we’ve seen from the old marketing mix it also contains Product, Price and Place and if you get these wrong then no matter how good your promotion is you aren’t going to sell anything.  The most brilliant promotion isn’t going to sell VHS players or an over-priced sausage roll (even Pret was forced to withdraw their £2.45 sausage roll).

So in this post, I am assuming that you have got these other three factors right.  If this is the case then, provided you avoid Negative Impact Promotion, doing some promotion is always better than none.  A number of my previous posts focused on getting your promotion right and you should work to get it to the best level you can but at some point you do need to unleash it.

I did a quick review of companies recently and found that many weren’t doing the amount of promotion their business needed as they were:

  1. Waiting to perfect something
  2. Delaying it as they didn’t have enough time to approve or do it
  3. Uncertain so they held back on doing anything 

In some cases, this wait added up to more than 6 months.  The problem with this type of delay is that most promotional campaigns take 6-12 weeks to have an effect so if you leave doing it to when you have run out of work then you are going to have a dry period.  Unfortunately many companies don’t have the reserves to fund the now urgently needed promotion campaign AND survive through the dry period so they go under. 

It can also happen that during a dry spell a company takes the wrong action and instead of rolling out a new promotion campaign it tightens its belt.  As it has no new business coming in, all this does is stave off its inevitable collapse.  The solution is to promote and get more customers in while tightening the belt where you can.  This way the company has a greatly improved chance of pulling through. 

The very worst option when hitting a dry period is to put your head in the sand and live off your business bank account and credit hoping that something will come along and then only consider promotion once you’re down to your last £1 000.  At this point, it is too late and you no longer have the money needed to fund the campaign.  If you had done the needed promotion campaign 6 months earlier when the dry spell started and you had the money to do it, then you could have pulled out of it.    

So here’s what I recommend:

  1. Get a promotional piece or campaign as right as you can but don’t delay it in seeking perfection.
  2. It is always better to get something rather than nothing out (provided it’s not negative impact promotion) so don’t feel paralysed by indecision.
  3. If you don’t make time for promotion now you’ll have plenty of time for it later as you’ll have run out of customers.  Avoid the dry spell and always make time for some promotion.
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