The Role of Innovation in Promotion and Marketing

Whether you’re a small business or a large one, a mistake that is often made in promotion and marketing is limiting innovation.

This does not mean, however, that one should compulsively change something that is working well. A campaign or ad or pattern of offering specials or reduced prices that works should be continued as long as it is getting good results.

But there is a principle in direct marketing that applies to many other activities. Direct marketing occurs when a business sells its products directly to the public, as through mail order or telephone sales. In direct marketing, you can directly see the results of your promotion. A good ad brings in so many orders for a particular book, for example.

When a direct marketing campaign works very well, it sets a certain standard. While that campaign is being continued, the new job of the marketing people is to now break through to a new, higher standard with a new promotion. So they continually test new messages, new ads, new mailing lists.

While minimizing risks and cash outlay, a small business can test other promotional messages and tactics to see if they will be more successful than the existing promotions. If the new promotion tests well, it can sometimes be run alongside existing promotions or perhaps can replace them.

Surveys, interviews and other methods of testing the pulse of the public can, of course, guide these tests.

For example, suppose a family restaurant offers a deep senior discount on Thursday nights. This brings in big crowds but other weeknights are emptier. Simply by putting a little survey card and pen on the table with the check, other offers could be asked about and most popular one could be tested. The public could be asked about Children Eat Free, awards of free dinners for good grades, three courses chosen from a limited menu for one set price or other offers. There is no limit but one’s imagination, tempered by one’s common sense.

Whichever choice gets the most votes could be offered on a limited-time basis on one of those nights that is emptier than Thursday.

Whether you do your own promotion or you have someone working for you, consider the value of innovation, while not rocking the boat of successful promotional actions. You may end up finding something new that works far better than your old tried and true – and very tired – promotions!