Tips: How to Create Effective Promotions

by Keith Lehmann

What makes up an effective and efficient promotion all comes down to timing and coordination. By planning far enough in advance, coordinating with your partners, and using an automated market intelligence tool to help you research your competition, you can be prepared to meet and beat your competition on any promotion.

You must offer your promotions across all your ecommerce partners at the same time or risk partaking in unfair trade practices. However, that doesn’t mean all of your partners are going to activate the promotion. In a “meet-comp” situation (when a competitor unexpectedly offers a promotion), you don’t have to offer it to everybody, only those who are running your competitor’s promotions.
In general, the best ways to approach promotions from a practical and legal standpoint is to avoid group boycotts, avoid any unfair trade practice, and forecast as best you can.
Plan on having at least a 90-day-lead time, but also be prepared for sudden meet-comps to arise in the channel.
It all comes down to timing, coordination, and ultimately beating out the competition.

A promotion can only be successful if you have coordinated with your retail partners on inventory.

First, align your exiting and projected inventory with your partners to confirm you both are not holding on to more inventory than you are putting out—push and pull. You want to be pushing out just as much as you are pulling in. You also want to coordinate with your partners to make sure they are not running any conflicting promotions.

Set up reasonable sales expectations with your retailers. You could base these expectations on sales volume or you could set up a share-base promotion—whatever you base it on, make sure the plan is customized and the expectations are outlined in detail ahead of time. Be specific about the promotion and the expectations.

Establish strong policies with your partners from the beginning. You want to trust your partners, but you also want to use automated tools to ensure they are upholding their end of the bargain. These tools monitor your advertised price, track that the promotion is taking place during the agreed-upon period of time, and delivering the product as visibly as possible.

Beating Your Competition:

To beat them, you must know them. To know your competition you need to forecast what they will do next. Short of having insider-information like a promotional calendar, this is the toughest part to do.

It’s true you don’t get to have a lot of visibility, but you can still make well-informed, educated guesses. By capturing and studying your competition’s historical trends, searching retail sites and blogs, and using shopping bots are all ways to see what the competition is offering and predict what they will do next.

But collecting all the data you need to forecast your competition is too much for one person—or even a couple people—to track. You need to have that kind of data capture automated so it can be digested and analyzed.

And then you need to take a look at your own history to see what worked last year and what didn’t. Study your customers’ behaviors and your product’s lifecycles. See how they compare to your competition.

The only exception to all this is a meet-comp situation that you didn’t see coming—then you have to be reactive rather than proactive. However, with the right data tools and research, you shouldn’t be completely surprised either.

To ensure you run an effective promotion that beats out the competition—without too many headaches or surprises—you want to be sure you have the tools in place to capture and analyze relevant ecommerce market data, a solid agreement with your partners, and the best timing. Your company can run a more efficient promotion if you use automated tools that help researching the competition’s data, and your own, and make sure your partners are upholding their end of the deal. Running an effective promotion is a challenge, but it can be very successful if you take heed of these simple tips.