Section 24 Promotional opportunities

February 7th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
WINNERS = Products which can be promoted using all variations of the “promotional mix” thus using all available promotional opportunities.

For the purposes of evaluation, “promotional opportunities” means all forms of communication designed to inform a potential customer about the benefits and desirability of a particular product.  The goal is to convince the buyer or end-users that the product will satisfy their needs or desires, or be better than the one they are using now.

In order to understand all of the communication variations available, you must know the key factors in the promotional process.

The key factors in the promotional process are:

  • The Target Audience
  • The Message
  • The Message Carrier
  • The Message Source

The Target Audience

Consists of both buyers and end-users.

Sometimes the buyer and the end-user are one and the same.  Target audience is best defined as the segment of the market to which the product is directed

The Message

Is information you want to communicate, to the target audience about the product.

For example:

  • Its new!
  • Its improved!
  • Its superior!
  • Its economical
  • You need it because
  • You want it because
  • You need it now!
  • Its on sale!
  • Its safer!
  • Technical information about your new purchase
  • Its better than the competition because


The message of every promotion and communication must be tied to your marketing strategy and should enforce your “product positioning statement”.  A typical product positioning statement is the nicest thing you can say about your product.  All other features are of lesser importance.  It is the one statement that says it all.

The positioning statement consists of: THE TARGET AUDIENCE (a description of who will buy the product), THE PRODUCT’S NAME, THE FRAME OF REFERENCE  (how the buyer categorizes the product) and the POINT OF DIFFERENCE.  (what makes the product better, faster, more fun etc.)  Here is an example of a product positioning statement:

“To Pilots and Aircraft owners, Mirror Glaze is the windshield cleaner that removes small scratches best”

Here is how it is broken down.

To pilots and aircraft owners

Target audience


Mirror glaze

Product name


is the windshield cleaner

Frame of reference


that removes small scratches best.

Point of difference

The Message Carrier

Is the “medium” used to carry the message to the target audience.

It can be:

  • Personal appearances.
  • Trade publications.
  • Trade shows
  • Contests.
  • Word of mouth
  • Mail-outs, letters, etc.
  • Brochures
  • Packaging
  • In-store displays
  • Outdoors displays
  • Handouts and samples
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Telemarketing


The Message Source

Is the person or entity delivering the message.

The message source can be:

  • An individual (manufacturer or marketer)
  • A satisfied customer
  • A Company spokesperson.
  • A reporter.
  • A Celebrity “endorser” or spokesperson.
  • A retailer or seller of the product.
  • A public relations (PR) firm.


The “Promotional Mix”, or which combinations you use of message, message carrier and message source will depend on:

  • What kind of product it is.
  • The product’s stage in its life cycle.
  • The target audience’s preferences, characteristics, values and demographics.
  • The type and intensity of competition.
  • Feedback from the marketplace, focus groups, distributors, etc.


The above factors must be constantly monitored to be assured the “promotional mix” remains on-target and effective. IE  if you find your message brings in more buyers when you use a celebrity spokesperson in magazines than when you place ads in newspapers, you will change the “mix” to include more magazines and less newspapers, and use celebrity spokespersons more often.

The ideal product will be able to use all of the above promotional opportunities in several different “mixes”.

If you think creatively, you can stage promotional events that maximize your publicity, educate your target audience, and sell product, while costing you very little.  For example, one of my clients obtained rights to market an innovative drawing pad that utilizes a patented plastic grid which slips under a sheet of paper on the pad, and guides your pencil to enable you to draw perfectly straight horizontal and vertical lines on the paper without using a ruler.  Previously, the product had been sold only at trade shows in foreign countries where it could be readily demonstrated to prospective customers.  My client’s goal was to sell the product through stationary stores in this country.

In order to get the sales rolling we needed to come up with an inexpensive yet effective promotional event to call attention to the product in the areas where they would be sold.  I suggested a drawing contest.  The contest would be held in a local shopping mall, which had a stationary & art store.  The store would be required to buy a minimum order of the product in return for being mentioned on local radio and television stations.  The event would receive FREE local television, radio and newspaper coverage, since the drawing contest was free to enter, and paid a $100.00 prize to each of three age categories, pre-teen, teen, and adult.  The media would be given advance notice of the contest in the form of a PSA or “public service announcement”.  The contest was to draw the best “dream home of the future” in the allotted time frame of 15 minutes, and would be judged by a prominent local developer, who agreed to judge the contest in return for being mentioned in our contest publicity.  This promotion would cost my client only three hundred dollars out of pocket, plus his time and energy to put it together, and it would accomplish the following in each location:

  • Generate lots of publicity for the product.
  • Educate prospective customers about the product and get them to try it.
  • Build goodwill for the company through the cash prizes.
  • Educate local contractors and developers about the product.
  • Make prospective customers aware of the store where they can buy the product.
  • Generate instant “impulse” sales of the product.

You may be able to obtain lots of free promotion in the form of “New Product Releases” to magazines and newspapers.  Most specialty magazines and newspapers have sections in their publications that announce the introduction of new products on the market.  To take advantage of them you will need to prepare a “news release” extolling the features, benefits and cost of the product, and send it to the editor, along with a glossy black & white photo of the product, preferably an 8 X 10, but you may be able to get by with a 5 X 7.  The photo should be professionally taken and suitable for making a “half-tone” out of it for reprinting.  It is a good idea to send a free sample of the product to the editor if you can afford to.  If you are able to afford only a few free samples, send them to the magazines that have the most circulation.  You can decide which magazine and newspapers you want to contact by reviewing all of the “periodicals”, which are currently being published, which feature articles on products like yours.  To see what is available, go to the library and look through: ULRICH’S INTERNATIONAL PERIODICALS DIRECTORY.  If you are short on time, call your local research librarian and ask them to research it for you, and provide you with a list of magazines and newspapers to which you can send your new product releases.

Another great source of free publicity is a new product announcement in an applicable trade journal.  To find out all of the trade journals which may be beneficial for you, and applicable to your product, go to the library and find a copy of: BUSINESS RATES AND DATA—PART 1   which is published by STANDARD RATE AND DATA SERVICE. you will find over 16,000 different Trade Journals and they are conveniently listed by industry, so it is easy to find the ones which will be of interest to you.  Most industries have three, to five trade journals.  The listings in Rates and Data will give you the addresses and the editors names and phone numbers.

Yet another excellent form of publicity is to enter your product in design contests which will be publicized.  A good example is the Industrial Designers Society of America annual design contest.  Winners are regularly featured in the Wall Street Journal.  For info, send to:

 IDEA (industrial design excellence award) contest.

Industrial Designers Society of America

45195 Business Court, Ste 250

Dulles, VA 20166

ph. 703-707-6000

Or, visit their website at

Your product may generate free publicity from press, television and radio media.  Many of them are looking for stories such as yours, and you can invite them over for a demonstration by calling the program director, news director, or editor.  You should have a “hook” or reason why the public will be interested in it.  You should try to develop a hook that is tied to current news events, or features or affects a local resident or business.

If you have a suitable product, you may be able to trade some of your products or services for advertising.  I have done this many times with radio station “contest giveaways”, where one product per hour, or per day, is given away by the station in return for mentioning the product and its availability.

You should save any video footage, audio tapes, photographs, and articles so that you can use them later in your sales demonstrations and product presentations.

In order to find out where you will generate the most sales from any given promotion, you must locate and define the areas of each country which contain the greatest numbers of persons you have marked as your target audience.  In the U.S, a simple way to get some basic information is to contact Info USA.  They have compiled information on over 14 million businesses, 3 million brand new businesses, 250 million consumers, 5 million new homeowners, and 13 million executives and professionals.  They have been in business for over thirty years and they publish a great directory which tells you how many of each type of business are located in each state, and gives you the total number of businesses, of that type, in the whole United States.  For example, if your product will be sold in sporting goods stores, you can find out how many sporting goods stores are located in your state, which states have the most stores, which states have the least amount of stores, and the total number of stores in the nation.  Using this FREE directory, you can immediately tell the overall size of your potential retail market, where you should obtain the highest sales figures, where you will have to have the best “reps” and where you will have to spend the most money on advertising and promotion.  To get your copy, contact:

Info USA

5711 South 86th Circle

P.O. Box 27347

Omaha, NE  68127

Phone  Toll free (800) 555-5335

Or (402) 596-7649

Fax them at (402) 331-1505

Email them at:

Or visit their website at:

Ask for your FREE copy of “Sales Leads, Mailing Lists and Databases Directory”

One of the most effective ways to mount an advertising campaign which will get your product name and company name in front of your target audience, without you having to pay the full cost of the advertisement, is to offer your retail sales outlets a CO-OP ADVERTISING ALLOWANCE.  In a typical co-op advertising agreement you, the manufacturer, agree to allow your retail outlet up to 50% of the cost of a given ad, with the total budget not to exceed 2% to 5% of monthly or annual purchases which the retailer buys from you.  You can pay the allowance by either allowing the store a credit on their order (which is what I usually opt for) or by giving them a cash payment.  The retailer places the ad in the local newspaper, magazine, or tabloid, or places an ad on a local radio or T.V. station.  Usually, you will want to stipulate that the name of your product and the name of your company be mentioned one or more times in the ad to qualify for the allowance.  Many manufacturers even help prepare the advertising copy, photographs etc for the retailer.  This can be a win-win situation.  You get your product and company name before the public, who is made aware that they can purchase the product locally.  If the store is a respected one, you have the added benefit of the credibility afforded your product by its association with the store’s name.  The retailer has incentive to advertise your product more often, and the added product exposure sells more product for them.  Hopefully your product will have enough of a profit margin to allow you to develop and use a co-op advertising program.

If you have a limited ad budget, radio and television ads can become extremely hard to justify.  There are several ways to get the most “bang for your buck”.  Timing of radio and television ads can be arranged to suit your needs.  Some companies may want to run a spot three times per day, while others may choose to run their spot once every three days.  One company recently chose to run three ads per day only ONE day per week, because their research shows most of their audience is listening on that one day.  These methods of advertising have been called “pulsing”, or “blinking”.

Your promotional opportunities do not end with the sale of the product.  The wise marketer includes one or all of the below items in the package, with the product, to be sure that the maximum promotional opportunities have been utilized:

  • A warranty registration card.
  • One or more decals.
  • Discount coupons on other products.
  • A small catalog/brochure describing your other products.
  • A request card to add the buyers name to your mailing list for future products.
  • A full line catalog order form.


The warranty registration card serves several purposes:

1.  It confirms the date of purchase of the product.

2.  It confirms the place of purchase and purchase price.

3.  It reveals character traits of the purchaser.

4.  It reveals information about the purchasing habits of your target audience.

5.  It reveals how the end user plans to use the product.

6.  It reveals other products your target audience may want to buy from you.

The warranty card should ask as many questions about the customer as you think they will answer, including their age, sex, occupation, income range, reasons for choosing your product (listed in order of importance to the customer), how they heard about your product, and any comments they may have on the features of the product.  The card will also reveal how your advertising is working, which will help you to adjust your “marketing mix” and it will provide the price the customer paid for the product which will let you know how much your dealers are retailing the product for.  This is useful to spot the “gougers” who are charging too much and the “whores” who are selling the product at slightly over cost.

The decals contribute to brand name recognition.  I recently purchased a high performance exhaust system for one of my off-road vehicles, and the manufacturer included 4 decals in the package.  In this type of market, this is good business.  In no time at all, my son had distributed the decals to three of his buddies, and the manufacturer now has four different people advertising his products and his logo on their machines.   The manufacturer’s “cost-per-exposure” is very low, since decals are cheap and they will be seen often by other prospective customers.

Discount coupons encourage buyers of your products to purchase other products in your line, or to purchase your product in larger volume.

The small catalog or brochure lets the buyer view your other products which may cause the buyer to seek out these products at a later date.

The request card is a simple postcard which has a little “box” which can be “checked”, and a simple phrase like “YES…I would like to know about future products you produce which may interest me.  Please add me to your mailing list”, then, include a space for their name and address, and include your address for mailing the card.  A preferred option is to provide postage paid “business reply cards” with your address already filled in so that all the buyer has to do is fill in their name and drop it in the mail box.  You can make arrangements to purchase these reply cards at the post office, and you are charged only for the ones which are mailed back to you.  This is a very cost effective means of building a mailing list of “preferred customers”, who have already purchased your products and are likely to purchase more.

The “full line catalog” order form is useful when you have a catalog which is heavy or expensive to produce, and you want to charge the customer for it.  In this case, you simply enclose the order form with a  “box” to check, similar to the one mentioned above, and a phrase such as “YES please send me your catalog (or video tape!!) of other products.  Enclosed please find my $3.00 (or whatever you are charging) to cover postage and handling” etc.  Ideally, these forms should be accompanied by a postage paid business reply envelope.

Last but not least, if your product is one which lends itself to it, it is a nice touch to send out a post-purchase thank you card to your customer.  The card can be as simple as a postcard that states” Thanks for thinking of us, we at the widget factory appreciate your business.  We hope you are satisfied and that you will think of us again when you need your next widget”.  I recently purchased a set of tires from “BIG-O” tires, and they sent me such a card several days later.  If it is applicable to your product, its a nice touch.



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