Unlike advertising and public relations which create publicity and awareness, product promotion delivers a call to action. Typically, the call to action is for the customer to buy now; often there is an incentive offered to encourage the customer to do so.
The goal of product promotion is get the product in front of the customer or channel of distribution. While customer knows the product promotion is overtly sponsored by the offering firm, the call to action can be compelling. Or, at least that is what the sponsoring firm hopes.
Here are some common product promotion techniques:
• Give it away- If the lifetime value of the customer purchases is greater than the cost of the giveaway, then it can make economic sense to give the product away. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry free drugs samples are given to physicians to dispense to patients to demonstrate their benefits. If successful, the patient may be prescribed the drugs.
• Trial- Similar to giving it away, a trial gives the customer a chance to use the product for a short duration of time. If satisfied the customer can keep the product and continue usage. A good example would be trial software; this a common approach for anti-virus software makers.
• Event marketing- Everybody loves a party. Event marketing uses the power of the crowd to entice people to buy now. This could be a sidewalk sale in the retail store or a grand opening for a business.
• Discounting- Offering a special price which is only available for a limited time is a time proven product promotion technique. This discount is frequently offered via a coupon. Delay and the price will go up (i.e. you snooze, you lose).
• Bundling- This means offering a second complimentary product as a part of package. Buy the PC and the printer is free. Or, it could be two for the price of one.
• Contests- Try your luck and you might be a winner. Another tried and true method to get the customer to take action. This is a commonly used by the retail giants.
• White papers- The technology crowd loves the soft sell of the third party authored white paper which tells all about their product versus the competition. Everybody knows that this research is bought and paid for, but it works.
• Chotchkas- Yiddish for a small gift, these branded items demand attention and are the gold standard of trade shows. The best giveaways are evergreen and remain on the customer’s desk or shelf as memorabilia of past shows.
Product promotion works because customers need a reason to buy now. It is up to you give them that reason.
John Bradley Jackson
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