Will My Promotion Fail?

Will my promotion fail? It's a question so few business owners and management staff ask before they put an idea out into the world. You see, I come from the hospitality world, where campaigns are drafted in weeks—if not days—and when they fail everyone then asks, "Why did my promotion fail?" The powers-that-be will often blame the weather, or another event, or some other force beyond their control. They rarely look internally; and the hospitality industry is not alone.

At Sync, we've worked with or consulted on projects for various industries from commercial flooring to condom manufacturers, from restaurants to real estate agents, from nightclubs to night sleep aids. One thing is clear, of those we've worked with, the successful companies ask, "Will my promotion fail?"

You might think that's an odd question to ask before launching a project you believe in but it's actually fundamental. When you think in terms of failure, you think in practical terms.

To make my point I'm going to give you a fictitious project with typical thinking in this day and age of modern marketing and promotion.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that seem popular, several local entertainers, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: A lot of people like music and beer, so them.

The Message: Big block party with ____________ entertainers. Come.

The Execution: Let's pump out some social media posts, and get our staff to talk about it.

The Timing: Canada Day is July 1st. Let's start pushing out information in May at some point.

The Buy-In: We'll tell staff they are required to promote, and we'll make sure to go after the fans of the acts.

The Follow Through: We made our money, or not ... either way, let's just keep on going.

Now for the "Will My Promotion Fail?" Version.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that are popular, several local entertainers with clout for the type of marketing we'll be doing, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: Do people actually like the acts we're bringing in? We'll examine this by looking at their demographics on Google and Facebook ad platforms. This will tell us how many dedicated fans there are. Will my local entertainers bring in customers? This is easy to figure out by examining their social media. You don't want to look at their follower count exclusively though. Instead you want to look at how the followers interact with their promotional posts. Now we have to examine of those people that support those acts, do they care about a beer garden? Do they have enough money to justify spending time on a great VIP section? Are they interested in adult games? You'll want to poll the audience before even thinking of continuing.

The Message: Instead of just telling people what you're doing, and to come, you need to think of more reasons for them to show. It's always good to have at least 3 selling points for small promotions, and at least 5 for large promotions. If you did your research in step one, then you're just adding a bit of value to seal the deal. If your audience does want adult games, will they pay or should you offer them free? If you're going to have a large VIP section, what comes with it? In this world of digital marketing you can't pound the same message for the life of the campaign. You need to release new information regularly. Get your potential customers excited!

The Execution: I know this might be kinda old fashioned of me, but it's probably best that you prepare a marketing plan. I know, so much work, right? However, a marketing plan forces you to ask yourself the tough questions in all aspects of promotion from financial to the nitty gritty marketing ideas.

The Timing: On average, small promotions need 6 weeks to really get the traction you're looking for based on most reports. Large promotions require 6 months or more. Canada Day is a very competitive holiday. Think this through. Can you give yourself the time needed to put together an awesome festival, and are your offerings attractive enough to gain the critical mass needed on a day with attractions on every street corner? Maybe the idea is better suited to a day when there isn't so much going on. Remove ego for a moment and think.

The Buy-In: Don't require your staff to buy-in; throw an event that you know they'll get behind. Ask those involved for ideas, and actually implement some. Make this promotion fun for them. If the buy-in from your team is natural, so to will their effort be.

The Follow Through: In this day and age there is no excuse for not acquiring data. If you're selling tickets, you should have emails. If not, have someone at the event collecting contact info. Perhaps you offer a prize for someone giving up their details. After every event you should follow through with a thank you, ask for feedback, and show your customers you care. It's also a good idea to ask them for any media they shot while at the event. Trust me, show them some love and it'll be much easier to sell to them next time.

So ...

  • Do people actually care about my acts?
  • Do I have the right team?
  • Are my offerings right for my audience?
  • Do I have enough sales points?
  • Have I really thought through the marketing plan?
  • Have I given myself enough time to sell the idea?
  • Does my team believe in the idea?
  • Do I have a strategy to keep them coming back?

If you don't know the answer to any of these questions, or if you aren't confident in your answers, STOP! That's how people lose money. I've done it, you've done it, Mark Zuckerberg has done it. However, if we just take the time to think before we jump perhaps we won't end up landing on rocks.