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Ten Secrets of Great Sales Promotions
by John Lund

In an ideal world, a winning sales promotion would generate new revenue, build audience, enhance the station's image - and maybe even take dollars of the table that would otherwise go to a competing station or other media.

The guidelines below will help you create a promotion that will make money and improve the listeners' perception of your station.

1. Every promotion needs a "management check-valve."

The sales manager and program director should examine the structure and rules to determine that the promotion doesn't conflict with other clients' needs or station policy, that it builds audience rather than being a tune-out, and that it doesn't violate any laws (especially lottery laws).

This process ensures that the station's license is protected. Every promotion needs a careful review and to be cleared by management before it hits the air.

2. Revenue and station involvement are in direct proportion to each other.

A client spending $30,000 a year obviously deserves more promotional involvement than one spending $5,000.

The more revenue that's involved in a promotion, the more the station should commit to it.

Don't spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources to net a $1,000 order. Instead, package small sales promotion commitments into the station's umbrella contest or talent features.

3. Recognize the limitations of your promotional inventory.

Determine what the prospect really wants. Is it a big sales promotion or just a "deal" on an ad schedule?

If the buyer is an agency, the answer may be "something that makes me look good to the client." In other words, something that "counts."

That may be a bonus schedule in non-peak times, a remote or a contest that is self-contained in that sponsor's commercials.

You may be able to bonus the spots that contain the entry info, and announce the winner of a drawing at the sponsor's remote. Translation: No need for a sales promotion.

4. Commit to good frequency for success.

Frequency is the heartbeat of radio, in schedules and promos. It benefits all advertisers and sets us apart from newspaper advertising.

Spots and promos must be heard often enough to make a strong impression, butů

5. Avoid promo overload.

Yes, 20 sponsors times 10 promos a day equals 70 mentions a week.

But listing 20 sponsors in one promo is sure to fail both the station and the clients.

The Sales Manager and PD need to check the details and devise a workable plan that keeps clutter out of the sales promotion.

6. Offer what the client needs.

For example, some clients love in-store entry boxes, but others hate them. The sales rep should know the hot buttons.

An entry box at a plumber's or lawyer's office makes little sense.

The salesperson should match client needs to station goals, but it's great at restaurants, mall locations or remotes.

Let's say the client just wants to increase traffic (who doesn't?).

Collaborate on bounce-back coupons for remotes and staff appearances to give attendees a reason to show with the client again. Collect names at remotes to furnish to the client for their own follow-up.

In short, look for individualized ways to provide a tangible display of your station's value beyond the schedule.

7. The length of a promotion and an ad schedule don't have to match.

All too often, we find clients wanting a 13-week promotion to match their 13-week buy.

There are very few contests or promotions that sustain audience interest more than five weeks, let alone thirteen.

Long promotions wear listeners out and take away promotional time needed for other advertisers or events.

Remember that most promotions are effective in the two-five week range.

8. Sales Promotions should bring in new dollars, not swapped budgets.

Your goal is to always increase sales, so offer promotions for additional budgets or to new advertisers who will buy more time.

"New Dollars Rule!"

9. Make the advertiser feel good.

We're talking follow-through.

Did the promotion draw a good crowd and result in better sales? Post a photo to your website of a prize winner posing with the sponsor. Frame copies of the picture, with your logo in the corner, for the listener and for your client.

Create a Sales Promotion Invoice that shows the value received.

Get the jocks to do a wrap-up on the air about the big crowd that showed up for the remote event.

Present the client with a best-of tape or CD of the audio elements - promos, delighted winners, client interviews.

10. Document your success.

Having completed a successful promotion should make securing the next promotion much easier, especially if you document your success through testimonial letters from the client.

Include all the details of what made the promotion work so you can pitch the promotion (or a variation) again in the future. Show the package to other advertising prospects and use it for sales-staff training.

© 2004 by John Lund; reprinted by permission.

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