That was the question in late 2014, when my business partner and I celebrated our 25th business anniversary. We took a leap of faith in 1989 that we could run our own promotions agency. Since then we have had the good fortune to not only work with Fortune 500 companies and everyday name brands, but most importantly with some amazing marketers who gave us enough latitude to bring creatively fresh offers and new executions to the target audiences.
Oftentimes these marketers would go to bat for us and our ideas, noting that breakthrough approaches by definition didn’t have a built-in history of success. Instead, those clients believed in the concept, and in our ability to execute. I am proud to say that in nearly all cases, we over-delivered on our campaign targets.
The work of a sales promotion agency is incredibly diverse. It’s “incentives that drive prospects and customers to take action”, which translates to everything from on-pack IRCs and bonus packs to direct mail, GWPs, experiential events and of course sweepstakes and games. In my opinion, no other marketing resource can complement every other marketing resource as well as a promotion agency. We make everyone else’s work better (by bringing an immediacy of action to the marketing program).
We looked back on those first 25 years to not only identify our secret sauce, but to articulate it in a meaningful way. Given the diversity of our clients’ objectives, projects, business verticals, and target audiences, it took a deep dive to identify the common threads. It took even longer to communicate it in a way that would resonate with today’s marketers.
Frankly, it’s taken nearly two years to get to where we are today.
As the pieces came together, the results have delivered several aha moments that make us very excited about the next 25 years.
- Promotions are alive and well, and are poised to be even more important in the future. It’s foundational strategies continue to deliver, especially when you evolve the tactics with the times. That is, the S&H Green Stamps program of the past still exists in the form of the Starbucks loyalty app of today. Willy Wonka’s golden ticket program still works—with instant wins in packages or digital instant wins with new technology. And with the rise of experiences, one-of-a-kind rewards are as popular as ever.
- Our industry suffers from an identity crisis. Our trade group has abandoned the term “promotions” for “brand activation”. By looking at Google key words, it does appear that those words are resonating with marketers.
- New marketers—from digital agency types to solopreneurs—aren’t sufficiently educated in the discipline of promotions. While many know of sweepstakes (mistakenly called giveaways or contests), the majority of marketers we see don’t really understand how to strategically build programs that drive those in the funnel to take action.
- Engagement at every step of the customer journey can be increased with the use of promotions. We have 25+ years of proof that the right incentive gets customers to take action, no matter whether they are TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU. B2B and B2C. Incentives drive people to take action.
- We have constructed a shareable process that anyone can execute independently. Yes, every client is different. And every challenge is unique. But we have now fine-tuned the process for demonstrating how to create a program that drives action.
So what do we do?
We have decided to focus a portion of our business model on teaching agencies and next-generation marketers of small- to mid-sized businesses how to increase campaign results through the use of proven promotional tactics. We are continuing to create promotional programs for enterprise clients, all while sharing our knowledge with agencies and SMB’s.
Check out our FREE webinar replay and share your thoughts.
We would love to get feedback on our new approach.