The Proof is in the Planning

5 Key Factors in Planning a Successful Promotion

When recently asked what I thought can make or break a promotion, I immediately said planning! A lot of factors go into planning a successful promotion for your venue. Too often, there is more focus placed on the execution rather than the planning process. In sales, and in today’s promotions, I always focus on the 5 “P”s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. To that end, here are five areas that must be properly addressed when planning a promotion. Be cognizant of these factors and more than half the battle is won for you to reach your bottom line of promotional success.

1. Brand It with a Brand that Makes Sense

Make sure you select a brand that makes sense for your venue and will make you money in accordance with the promotion. It should have a high level of profit incorporated into the cost per ounce/unit. Its marketing strategy should fall in line with the promotion. There should be ample POS available that ties in with your promotion’s theme. The supplier should be ready to provide you with necessary signage, pre-event promotion, signature beverage lists and event décor. It’s your promotion, your venue and your register. At the end of the night what matters is the customer’s perception and the weight of your cash drawer. Period. You have to make this promotion work for you financially.

2. Meet Several Times with the Brand’s Marketing Team

Each supplier has contracted marketing firms to assist in planning, executing and analyzing your promotion. If they are worth their weight in salt, you will get all of these things from them. Demand it! To ensure that all parties are on the same page, meet with them several times to plan the effort. Decide the event theme. Give yourselves enough lead time to promote properly. Have set drop times when product will be in-house and have POS on-hand in advance. Know exactly who will be involved and how. Determine what branded features will be and price them to move. Too many times details can fall through the cracks and can seriously damage your promotion. No one has more vested interest in the success of an event at your venue than you do. If you set the timeline for execution of these items, you will ensure a successful promotion.

3. A special is only a special if it’s truly SPECIAL!

This word in our industry has been completely bastardized and misused. A “Special” can be many things: a noticeably reduced price, a take-away glass or a seasonal cocktail. You don’t have to rely on $1 beers or $2 cocktails to move cases. Having the master brewer in your place serving and talking to the guests about their $8 crafted beers can move just as much product. Enlisting a mixologist to create custom cocktails on-site during the event can move a substantial amount of $10 drinks. Remember, it’s all about the perception and a good impression, which will generate the value for your consumers and the revenue for your register. Make it special by making it different. Make your “Special” stand out from your competitors. You’re asking your consumers to opt for your venue over another by running the promotion, so give them a compelling reason to come through your doors.

4. Are Promo Girls Really Necessary?

Sending in a team of attractive girls to hand out branded POS is so 1995. That’s 15 years ago! Are you still driving a vehicle from 1995? Does your venue still offer pricing from 1995? Are you still carrying an old flip cell phone with the flimsy antenna from 1995? Then why do you want your event to look like that? Unless these girls are doing something interactive, digitally interactive or brand interactive, and directly driving sales, you don’t need them. The days of girls walking around with an armful of T-shirts and beads are (hopefully) behind us.

5. Get Your Staff Fully Involved

Your best sales tool in any venue is your staff, and if you have all of them working in unison to drive sales and promote the actual promotion, your revenue has no place to go but up! The tip jar is the key to any employee’s heart, so if you can help them fill it faster, you’ve also filled your register faster. Make sure they know the brand being promoted, how the promotion is to be executed and what is going to be featured well in advance to your event. Having the supplier come in at least a week prior to do a training on the promoted brand will ensure that each employee retains some form of knowledge and understanding on what it is they’re serving.

These areas are at the top of my list when I plan a promotion. Although many more factors tie in with the process, if you can keep these areas top of mind — and stay ahead of them — you’ll have a successful promotion with tangible ROI.

Meghan Leary is the CEO of ProPreneur Marketing LLC, an innovative marketing firm specializing in promotional marketing activity and campaign development for world-class brands. She is also the author of Whiskey for Women, which offers insight for consumers, on-premise accounts and suppliers into an untapped yet promising channel of distribution and increased potential for profit within the brown goods category. She regularly conducts interactive educational whiskey seminars, tastings and mixology events targeted to the female whiskey demographic. Visit


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