Yep... I'm back at it again with another anecdote!
Recently, I visited my local supermarket, close to the Co-op I normally fuel up at (before you ask, yes, I’m still with the program), and purchased a yogurt that promised a promotion opportunity for the purchase. I got home, sat down with the product and headed to the company’s dedicated digital promotions site and … I discovered that the promotion wasn’t up and running yet. I was told to come back, essentially.
This was a bit of a head-scratcher for me … the yogurt brand isn’t a small start-up in any way; it’s a large, established manufacturer and retailer with experience in promotions.
How could they launch an interactive promotion of such scope without first having all their ducks in a row?
The reality is that this type of logistical fumble is more common than you might think. That’s why I was surprised at the brand’s gaffe, but I wasn’t in disbelief. Often overlooked, there’s a ton of planning and coordination that goes into running a promotion, and it’s easier to screw things up than to get everything right … even for the largest brands … which is why most choose to work with an experienced partner like IC Group.
Every Little Detail Matters
While logistical problems are somewhat common, they should never be accepted. There’s too much money—and brand reputation—on the line.
Even worse … you’re going to upset the very people you’re trying to engage, build a relationship with and reward! It’s frustrating to be offered a chance at winning something and then to not be able to get access—or to not get what you expected. Folks tend to remember bad experiences far more than good ones, unfortunately.
Much of the budget spent on a promotion that’s derailed by a logistical failure is an absolutely wasted cost, naturally. The promotion might still have some success after the logistical issues are cleared up, but it will have nowhere near the bang it could have had if it had been handled properly. You’re also very likely to incur additional shipping and handling, administrative, and consumer communication costs. And let’s not even get into how social media continually amplifies brand blunders. Just ask United.
So what can a company do to ensure that the logistics are covered when launching a promo campaign? The answer has many specific components that will vary between brands and industries, as well as the nature of the promotion. But in simplest terms, it comes down to being hyper-vigilant in your planning and execution of the promotion.
5 items you can’t overlook
Know your distribution logistics – can you guarantee that product will hit 80% of stores within 1 or 2 weeks?
Once you know where you stand with #1, make sure the website is up-and-running at least a week before you think distribution will hit.
If you don’t know the answer to #1, allow consumers to pre-register or sign up for an email alert when the program launches. And you might want to reward them simply for doing this. It’s their time – their effort.
Also, consider how long product will sit on-shelf and in the pantry. If it’s a key drive period promotion, having the promo running for 6-12 months is overkill, you’re paying for your provider to manage it for a long time when you don’t need to, and retailers are going to see it as stale and not want it on-shelf that long. You want to create a rush for product and then have the program end at an appropriate time … not when you think the last consumer has decided to participate.
Ensure media lines up with the start date of the program and the product hitting shelves … It’s a fine balance between creating pre-promotion excitement and frustrating your customers who are paying their hard-earned money on your product and want to participate right then-and-there. You’re not launching a blockbuster Hollywood movie … you don’t have a teaser trailer (that gives away the whole plotline) that people care about, and you can’t talk about the program a year in advance! “In a world … where promotions go off without a hitch … this blog wouldn’t exist!”
Digital promotions continue to be invaluable marketing tools … but only if they make customers feel rewarded. And that’s not going to happen if a logistical failure causes the promotion to disappoint customers in some way. The execution of a program is just as important as the vision for the program, and so it pays to diligently and almost obsessively plan logistics to avoid hiccups.
The yogurt was still delicious. Strawberry.