Are you making the most of promotions and events? By Peter Segal of srcg, a consultancy specialising in retail strategy, category development and training.
Promotions and events are an obvious way for publicans to create interest in their outlets, so why aren't they more successful? I can think of two reasons: 1) the type of promotion or event often does not match the objective, and 2) the commitment to the detail is often not present in the outlet to ensure it is effectively implemented.
Choose your promotion
The most important question to ask yourself when choosing the type of promotion or event you are going to run is "what am I trying to achieve?" This can be made very complex when you consider the many factors that effect daily trading, what with local competition, the brewer's demands and day-to-day issues clouding the way. So let's demystify promotions to make the decision easy.
The strongest promotions and events achieve their results in one of two ways: they increase the number of people in your outlet (traffic building) or they encourage people in the outlet to spend more (transaction building).
You may feel you want to achieve both objectives, but beware - while most promotions have an effect on both, it is far better to focus on one and achieve something, rather than try to focus on both and achieve nothing.
So what type of events and promotions achieve these two objectives?
Typical promotion tactics for transaction building are:
- buy two shots, get one free on a "big night out"
- buy a three-course meal and get a free bottle of wine.
Notice that these types of promotions focus on expandable consumption. They are promotions where the volume consumed can increase.
Typical promotion tactics for traffic building are:
- pub quiz
- lunchtime or off-peak deals
- TV event eg football or boxing
- a car boot sale if your car park and garden are big enough.
Focusing on the right type of promotion or event tactic will ensure you maximise the chances of achieving your objective.
Where to advertise?
It is also critical to consider the location and medium you use to raise awareness of your event or promotion. There would be little use advertising a happy hour inside an outlet, it needs to be promoted outside where passing traffic can see it and make a mental appointment to visit. Half-price promotions on new products are unlikely to be effective advertised outside the outlet, the awareness of these offers needs to be built at the point-of-purchase or consumption eg at the bar and on the tables.
Having chosen the right objective and tactic and designed the materials if required, how do you ensure it actually happens?
Your staff are critical at this point and helping them to understand the objective and benefits will ensure implementation. Clearly instruct the staff in the mechanics of the promotion or event as the customer will expect them to understand the detail and the limits of the promotion in particular.
Your staff are also critical in the advertising effort. Asking customers whether they would like to take part in a promotion, especially an in-outlet promotion, is preferable to relying on customers seeing the promotional literature themselves.
If the promotion or event is particularly important or complicated, it may be appropriate to incentivise staff to ensure it happens effectively. A reward for each promotion deal bought, or a bonus linked to total sales are two ways to encourage your staff to take part.
Measurement of success
A word on measuring success. As it can be easy to increase volume at the expense of profit, it may be appropriate to look at profitability over the period of the promotion or event, and also look longer term.
For example, in my local pub the licensee often hires a band on a Saturday night, which incurs extra expense for him. When assessing the success of the event he considers the extra cost of the band, the extra sales created by new traffic on the night and the sales from those new customers who return in the following weeks having had a great night out. All the more important, then, to make sure the event goes well to show your outlet in its best light!
Future profit opportunities are often neglected when assessing the effectiveness of promotions, to be true to the spirit of assessment the whole picture should be considered.
The most important point regarding assessment of a promotion is that assessment actually takes place. Even the most basic form of assessment will reveal some insight and I would encourage you to do this at the level at which you feel comfortable.
Top tips on how to run a successful promotion or event
- Make sure the type of promotion or event matches your objective
Make sure you are clear about your objectives. Either boost the number of people that come into your outlet or encourage people to spend more. It is better to focus on one
Make sure that people are aware that it is happening and use the appropriate methods to achieve this. For example posters outside, blackboards, tent cards, direct mail etc
Make sure your staff buy into the idea and are aware of its objectives
Always assess the event or promotion afterwards. Should you run it again or not
srcg is a consultancy specialising in retail strategy, catgory development and training. srcg facilitates collaborative working between retailers and manufacturers in the On-trade, Multiple Grocery and Convenience. Tel: 020 8948 4048 or visit www.srcg.com