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How to Make Your Seasonal Promotion Pop!

Published on by Romeo Maione.

The end of winter is an event extravaganza: Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, the Superbowl and spring break are all within a month of each other, so it’s not a great time for marketers to get seasonal ennui. 

You've gotta be pretty bored to use a word like "ennui" 

You've gotta be pretty bored to use a word like "ennui" 

One thing's for sure, promotions themed to events typically draw better numbers than their generic counterparts. Memories, nostalgia, desire and excitement all drive interest and traffic to promotions that evoke an event’s spirit. At Launchfire, we’ve created and executed themed promotions for 15 years so I figured I’d call on our brain trust to give you some insights. 

I asked our founder John Findlay for his input. We talked about prizing strategy:

    “You don’t have to give away the farm to get your core demographic excited. One of the first big promos we ran (just after the Ice Age!) was for an NHL sponsor. The program ran during the NHL playoffs and the grand prizes were vintage NHL hockey sweaters. The program drew huge numbers despite the fact that the prizes were only worth a couple of hundred bucks each.  That's because the prizing struck a chord with the target demo.  NHL fans love their merch and   they love vintage merch even more.  I guess the lesson for us was that in some cases inexpensive prizing can still be highly magnetic”

I also picked his brain about planning and timing: 

    “Start early. The more time you have to plan, the fewer headaches you’ll have closer to launch. I remember doing a promotion with one of the major professional sports leagues and they insisted on having 6 weeks to review and approve graphics for the program. Fortunately our client had gotten things rolling early enough that we could still deliver on time. If not, we’d have been screwed. Another advantage of starting early is that you have the necessary time to reserve and leverage house media. If you’re not planning far enough advance many of your options will have already been reserved for other programs and you’ll have to rely entirely on paid media to drive traffic.” 

Our co-founder and head of sales AJ Pratt chimed in:

    “In a perfect world, you start work on a promotion 4 months before the event happens. That way you’ve got one month to pick a vendor, a couple of weeks to finalize the details, six weeks to hammer out the work, and the last month to run the promo leading up to the event. I’m always willing to give a better deal to a client that plans farther in advance because it’s easier to schedule and we have more time to build something awesome. I know that perfect world rarely exists, and you CAN get a promotion done quickly, really quickly even, but it might be more expensive and tougher to hammer out” 

He also gave some tips about promotional strategy:

    “Remember you aren’t promoting the event. You’re using the event to promote your brand. Go into the promotion with a clear understanding of  the KPIs used to measure your success. Whether it’s email opt-ins or a bump in sales or educating consumers about your products, make sure you know what your goals are upfront. ”

Finally I talked to Alex Lemaire, our in-house super robot

    “The best advice I could give: use technology to support your campaign's  mission, rather than trying to force-fit a social network or technology as its centrepiece. That next breakout social net won't always pay out; sacrificing your message to work in untested spaces or those whose marketing rules handcuff on a whim could leave things hollow. Do share your goals and vision with your tech group during the creative phase, and gather input on tools that can craft the experience that's sought (whether it's commerce, relationships, profiling, gamification, proximity, email marketing, etc.). Nerds can surprise!"

Nerds can also *be* surprised

Nerds can also *be* surprised

While that’s all great advice, nothing grinds my gears like a promotion that has *nothing* to do with the event it’s lazily tied into. What can you do to avoid that? 

For your reading pleasure, I’ve assembled four easy ways to tie in your event to the promotion so schmucks like me can’t accuse your brand of being lazy! 

Prizing

Why would you give away a laptop on Valentine’s Day? Give away a romantic trip for 2 instead. The buzz about the prize will draw people who are excited for the holiday which translates to more attention and more engagement. Ideally your prize will enhance the experience of the event or holiday for the winner. For example, giving people a 10k Christmas shopping spree salves the pain points of frugal holiday shoppers and draws them to your promo. Additionally, make sure you showcase the prize by incorporating its imagery into your corporate social networks and email blasts. 

User Generated Content 

People are excited about the event, so let their excitement drive the promotion. If you’re aiming for movie fans, start an Oscar’s bracket where your users can predict who’s going to win the top awards. If you’re looking for women in their 30’s and 40’s on Valentine’s Day, run a promotion on Pinterest on Twitter where users can share their best (or worst) Valentine’s Day moments.

Copy and Graphics

This one’s so obvious but a lot of promos fall short. Adding a couple snowflakes does *not* make your promo Christmas-themed! You’ve got to put some work in to really integrate the event’s imagery and shibboleths (I have been looking for an excuse to use that word for months) into the visuals and text of your promotion. Users are looking for an experience that encapsulates what the event is about, not just some lazy pictures that remind them of it. Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean: If you’re running an autumn-focused promotion make sure you use deep and rich fall colors to really evoke the season’s spirit, not just a couple big leafs on your border. Evoking the memory and feeling of a holiday or event is more art than science so it requires a graphics team capable of capturing that feeling with images and tone. A Christmas promotion should make people think of family and feel safe while a Mother’s Day promotion should make people want to call their mom. Accomplishing that tone with graphics and copy is no short order, but it’s essential to capturing the attention and appreciation of your audience.

Gamification

If you’ve ever read the blog before, you won’t be surprised I found a way to wedge this one in. My eagerness doesn’t make it less true though! When a promotion is gamified it becomes easier for the user to feel the connection to the event or holiday it’s themed to. While pictures of football players and Superbowl rings are nice, letting players digitally kick a field goal to try and win a prize really gets people excited for the event (and your promotion!).

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Links we Love: Oct 10 - 16

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Ever hire someone who’s amazing in the interview then sucks out loud at their job? 

I see some management potential

I see some management potential

Our links this week argue that gamification could be the silver bullet for hiring great staff. Check em’ out and let us know what you think! 

Fox Business starts us off with some great ideas for execution, plus a secondary benefit to gamified hiring: “As candidates are also customers, companies’ brand image will benefit from delivering a positive and fun candidate experience, replacing today’s automated message which informs candidates that their resume has been received.” 

Mashable gives examples of some companies (mostly high-tech) that succeeded in implementing gamified hiring. 

CEB’s blog posted a great article that outlines some reasons gamification beats out traditional hiring. Basically gamification gives the candidate a better idea of the brand’s culture and business and lets the brand know who’s got the skills to shine in the workplace. 

Forbes drops some knowledge with three case studies showing how gamification helped hiring. 

Finally Karl Kapp gives some A+ advice on how to use gamification to weed out candidates whose knowledge is lacking! 

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Long-term Promo Planning

Published on by Romeo Maione.

So your brand is running a major giveaway. You’re probably looking for a quick spike in sales, maybe snag some Facebook likes and twitter follows in the process. 

Hey, nothing wrong with that. But you can do a whole lot more. 

There's always more

There's always more

By plotting out your whole promotional year in advance, you can get significantly more out of your promotions. We’re talking real, serious increases to your ROI. The trick is planning it out long term. 

First of all, there are two really obvious benefits to planning your annual promotional calendar early: 

  1. An agency can help you with planning and timing right off the bat so you can know when every promotion will launch and end without stress and concern. 
  2. Any reasonable agency will give you a discount on their fees if you plan a full year’s worth of promotions at once. 

But if those reasons aren’t good enough, there’s a few other things long-term planning can nail down. 

 

Data collection

With a year of planning, and early promotions feeding into later ones, there’s so much information you can glean. You can have early year promotions which encourage consumers to build profiles of their purchase preferences, so later promotions can target them more effectively. You can optimize people’s promotional experience once you know more about them. Planning for the whole year allows you to gather, consolidate and use all that data to get the most out of your year. 

 

Ease and reliability

When you have a year plotted out for your promotions, you can ensure that things like your Loyalty Program database, e-store and POS are all properly integrated with your promotional agency’s, so they can track and monitor all the data better. You can re-use a significant number of tools once they’re built in to your back-end. It’s significantly easier to set up processes you’ll need for the year if you plot out all your promos at once. 

 

Maximize Results

When you know your promotion launch dates well in advance you have the opportunity to integrate calls to action into your various other media. For CPG clients that means putting a PINs on their packaging, for retail clients that means putting  codes on receipts. For digital promos to be truly successful, you need to be able to integrate all your avenues. It’s hard to set up POS to work with your promotion, or get ads for it in your flyers and email campaigns when you don’t have an annual plan.  

 

Partnerships

Partnerships with other sponsors are an excellent way to bring the cost of promotions down. The tricky part is that most partners will want to see your media plan before they buy in. Partnerships take a long time to build and nurture, which is hard when you’re facing quick deadlines and last minute promotions. With a year-long promotional plan, it’s a lot easier to attract and maintain partners, and make sure you cut down on cost. 

 

Seasonal events

A planned annual calendar makes getting the most out of holidays and events a breeze. Once you have the aforementioned data from early year promotions, you can target consumers so much better when it comes down to major purchasing seasons. Early planning also helps your agency know your annual hot spots so you can always have the most innovative, solid solutions. 

Basically you can turbo-charge your year by plotting out promos in advance and always thinking about the future. Plan for the long-term and watch your ROI skyrocket. 

Youth is wasted on the young

Youth is wasted on the young

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Links we Love: Oct 3 - 9

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Whether you're sitting in your cubicle or locked in your safe-room scanning visitors for ebola, relax and check out these links on retail marketing! 

Forbes published two great articles recently. The first one had some very promising stats on beacon-marketing for retailers: 53% of consumers are willing to share their current location to receive more relevant advertising and 57% of consumers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising.

The second article talks about the usefulness of Facebook as a marketing tool in light of its recent policy changes. 

Marketing Interactive posted an article that suggests incorporating cafe elements to your store can have you slurping profits. 

Retail Customer Experience discussed the preponderance of hyper-local and dynamic promotions in the retail space. If those sound like soulless buzzwords to you, congratulations! You’re probably a real-life person. Buzzwords aside, it’s a good read! 

The same magazine published an article that gets poetic about marketing to millennials.  I’d put it a little more bluntly: be digital and social. 

USA Today’s got some pretty optimistic (but realistic) predictions for holiday spending. They make the claim that the only way to avoid competing on price is to be innovators in omni-channel marketing. 

Omaha.com reminds us that Christmas creeps into our stores earlier and earlier every year. 

Finally MarketingMag confirms what we’ve always been saying: moms are the best audience for digital promotions. They spend 617 minutes on social media a month, way more than any other demographic. Good thing they also make 85% of household spending decisions huh? 

Pictured: Your bread and butter

Pictured: Your bread and butter

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Be Mine - Marketing for Valentine's Day

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Depending on your situation, Valentine’s day can be a source of extreme anxiety or extreme excitement. Both are heavy-duty emotional triggers and should be managed carefully by marketers. People in relationships want to have a memorable and romantic experience while single people want to watch Netflix on full volume to drown out their tears. 

Thankfully, you can now stream Gilmore Girls

Thankfully, you can now stream Gilmore Girls

So how can you leverage Valentine’s Day to promote your stuff?  Depends on who you’re targeting.  

The trick is understanding the holiday’s consumer pain points. I’m going to speak in broad generalizations here so if you know an exception to these rules please resist the urge to send hatemail. 

Men in relationships are typically stressed about the holiday and looking for a way to impress their squeeze without actually putting too much work into it. 

Solution: Run a promotion that includes a checklist or a resource with eclectic (read: cheap) date ideas. Target this crowd by making their life easier. 

Women in relationships think more about Valentine’s Day than anyone else on Earth. They want to feel special and maybe brag a little about their awesome date. 

Solution: Consider a promotion that features Pinterest. Not only does it have the best sales rate of any social media platform, but it’s also a fantastic space for people to post ideas for Valentine’s Day that incorporate branded products. 

Single Women aren’t happy about Valentine’s Day. They’re a lil’ bitter and a lil’ unimpressed with everyone else’s annoying happiness. 

Solution: Poke some fun at the holiday. Encourage single consumers to tell their worst Valentine’s Day stories on Twitter with a branded hashtag. 

Single men on Valentine’s Day have no clue it’s Valentine’s Day. 

Solution: 2 for 1 coupon on Bud Light? 

Valentine's Day again? How romantic.

Valentine's Day again? How romantic.


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Links we Love: Sept 26 - Oct 2

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Looks like I ran out of sunscreen right on time.

Autumn is when children first grapple with existential angst

Autumn is when children first grapple with existential angst

While everyone retreats indoors for our annual reminder of the impermanence of life, read up on some mobile stats to cheer yourself up. 

Internet Retailer put out a series of articles this September which provide an overview of mobile marketing in retail. The first article drops a pretty big bombshell: mobile now accounts for more than 50% of retail traffic. The second article gets into the nitty gritty of UK mobile traffic numbers while the third article discusses why mobile traffic is so high but only 27% of sales come from mobile devices. We’ve got our own theory: most retail sites aren’t optimized for mobile so consumers are turned off.

The mighty Forbes published a great article on how beacons are adding a new level of complexity to the retail marketing puzzle. Definitely worth a read as it gives some tips to avoid beacon pitfalls. 

B2C published a list of crucial stats on mobile. Rundown: Mobile is the new leader, mobile searches are local, and 8pm to midnight is the hottest time for mobile searches. 

eConsultancy also ran some numbers on mobile. Rundown: SMS use is *way* down (below 2009 numbers) while social media use on smartphones is up (across all major .

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The Art of the Humblebrag (For Travel Marketers)

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Ever want to brag on social media, but feel the need to couch it in self-deprecation to avoid looking like Kanye West? Oh boy are you not alone. 

Not a bad trick! False modesty is definitely the easiest way to sneak some positive info to your social media followers. 

This trick is employed *very* often by social-media savvy travellers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Facebook statuses like “I get SO lost in Venice. What a maze!” or “Can’t stand getting ripped off by all these Tuk-Tuk’s in Bangkok, so rude!”. 

Traveling is an incredible luxury and understandably something consumers are eager to brag about. So why not make bragging a little easier for them?

How? Host promotions that are silly or self deprecating. Consider providing a platform where travellers can add wacky elements to their social media pictures, or a contest that rewards the most “lost” looking traveler. People are more likely to post travel pictures if they believe it won’t be perceived as bragging, so give them an excuse by making it (lightly) self deprecating. 

Humblebrag away! 

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Launchfire Interactive Inc.

22 Hamilton Ave N Ottawa, ON K1Y 1B6
EMAIL: sales@launchfire.com       FAX: 1.613.728.1527
INTERNATIONAL: +1.613.728.5865   1.800.896.4115

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