Brand Building

Running Promotions: The Sale

A sale is the best way to generate an extra shot of exposure to promote your brand when it needs it most. Here’s how.

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March 27, 2020

Overview

As we all come to terms with the new retail landscape in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s definitely worthwhile exploring a promotion in order to keep sales moving. Reducing your prices might be a necessary short term action, but it needn’t smack of desperation. It will certainly be welcomed by customers feeling the pinch. A sale is also a great opportunity to remind people that you’re still open for business, as you adjust to a new reality.

The sale is a tried and trusted way to promote your business, drum up some turnover, and make people like you – because we all feel like winners when we walk away with a bargain.


Planned well, they’re a great short term booster to spike interest, gain customers, and get some product moving – all of which can be as valuable for motivation as they are for your bottom line.

Perfect for…

For small businesses, a strategically considered sale can be the gentle push over the line needed to convert a new customer from “I’m interested” to “yeah might as well”.

If you’re just starting out and trying to gain a foothold in a crowded market, a tempting introductory offer is a brilliant way to get you noticed, promote your brand, and possibly lure over some of your competition’s more fickle followers.

For your existing customers and followers, discounts can be presented as exclusive rewards to help build loyalty. You’ve gotta treat your people right, right? With the right messaging, a sale could be your brand’s way of helping folks out in a time when money is hard to come by.

Consider this

You do however need to be careful when tinkering with the price of your product, because it’s inextricably linked to its perceived value. A “90% off” or “5 for the price of 1” sale should rightly raise a few red flags. Similarly, the sun-bleached  “Clearance Sale” poster that’s been stuck on your window all year ain’t fooling anybody.

Use sales sparingly, and with a specific goal in mind. Whether it’s a seasonal tradition, or a 24-hour flash promotion, do it smartly, and make it count.

Getting noticed

The most important thing is that people know about your promotion. So take the time to design some really eye-grabbing posters, and spread the word far and wide. If ever there was an excuse to use some bold colors and display fonts, this is it. But stay true to your brand’s identity above all.

Motion grabs attention, so it’s definitely worth thinking about using GIFs, or a video template to stand out in people’s social media feeds.

And for the love of everything holy, make sure your Call to Action (CTA) is clear and unmissable. Think of this as the beating heart of an effective design that promotes your business properly. Potential buyers need to know exactly what the special is, and what they need to do to get it. Making the mechanism too complex, or burying terms and conditions in the small print, is the easiest way to lose a lead, or cause frustration.

In the best case scenario, folks will know about it well in advance, and are quietly waiting to be the first person to pounce on the deal. Creating FOMO and building hype is critical to your sale’s success and promoting your brand. Anticipation and limited availability are fuel on the fire for a promotion.

But bear in mind that recycling the same poster design for weeks in advance might make it invisible over time. It really helps to plan different phases of the lead up to your sale, with the same aesthetic, to maintain interest and create the impression of something growing day by day. Spreading your bets over different platforms with the same design style, can also only help build awareness.

But how do you promote your business using this hype? Luckily, Over has specific layout collections for this exact purpose. You can easily create a multi-platform campaign leading up to your business promotion, by just popping your own images and text into these beautiful pre-designed templates. Beyond the specific promotion at hand, wrapping up your marketing material with a coherent, professional design makes a great impression for your brand.

The 'Retail Modern Minimal' layout collection in Over

The Marketing calendar

Take advantage of seasonal opportunities. Many industries (most notably fashion) operate in accordance with the shifting seasons, so clearance sales are the perfect time to refresh your inventory, and offer the customer some benefit in the process.

Special days (everything from Easter to National Pancake Day) are also important to be aware of, since they offer some more targeted promotional power, with the potential to meaningfully engage with your audience.

Tactics to try

These are a few variants of the discount promotion you might want to try for your own brand or small business:

The seasonal sale

The seasons shift in very convenient 3-month phases, enabling four foundational sales every year. These are essential for fashion (or anything fashionable) to keep offerings on trend. The upside – and the downside – is that consumers expect these. You’ll have an eager audience looking out for discounts… but you’ll need to work hard to stand out, and out-promote the competition. Off-peak deals work well for seasonal industries (tourism, swimwear, restaurants) to keep business ticking over in the quiet times.

Special Days

Whereas seasonal sales are quite generic, there are special days on the marketing calendar that can help you find and target a relevant crowd to whom you can promote your brand. Sure, there’s Christmas and Halloween and all the biggies, but look out for celebrations that really align with your product and your audience: Yoga, craft beer, Australia, mental health, the environment, women in tech, bulldogs, hot dogs… there are special days for all of these. Your company’s anniversary and other milestones count too.

The exclusive sale

You’ve worked hard to gain the followers you have, so it’s worth making them feel special to keep ‘em coming back for more. Never underestimate the power of a happy customer in marketing your brand. An exclusive sale is also more likely to have a higher engagement, since you’re selling to folks who already know (and hopefully love) your brand.

Mystery deals

Use intrigue to attract new customers, by offering a range of variable discounts or special offers to promote your business. They might very well pop on over to see if it’s their lucky day or not. If they end up being offered a discount at the higher end of the spectrum, there’s a decent chance they’ll see it as a sign, and jump on the offer.  Done right, mystery deals can be more engaging, and feel more personalised.  

Sign-up specials

Probably the most failsafe way to acquire a potential customer lurking just outside your door (so to speak), is with a sign-up offer. Think of it as a very clean, mutually beneficial agreement: you gain a new lead, and they gain a wicked deal on their first purchase or session. Everybody wins.

Activating a new customer is one of the hardest things to do for a small business, so it’s worth the cost and effort to incentivise this. Even just bringing them into your orbit (via a newsletter signup or social media follow) is worth offering something in return. If customers start off feeling noticed and taken care of, it bodes well for the ongoing journey.

Buy One Get One Free

Aah, the classic BOGOF technique. There’s a reason we all know the phrase “Buy One Get One Free”: it works a charm at ramping up sales. Free stuff is very hard to say no to, after all. BOGOF works great for getting more of your range into the hands of customers: “Oh, you like the watermelon flavor? Here, try the lime, it’s even better!” You can also use it to gain new customers, by setting up your free offer to be shared with a friend.

Checklist

Ok, you’re ready to kick off your BIG SALE! Let’s do this!

Steady on, cowboy. Before you go live, make sure you’ve got the essentials in place so you can use the sale to effectively promote your brand:

Timeline

When does it kick off, and end? Are there different phases to the sale? When will you start advertising it? It’s called planning, people.

Measuring success

What are you hoping to achieve with this promotion? Is it just about the number of units sold, or are you more interested in new leads, or retaining customers? When you know this, work out how you’ll measure success. You’ll learn plenty for future promotions by monitoring this data.

Terms and conditions

“What do you mean I can’t buy ten of them?!”

Don’t wait for a disgruntled customer, or a devastating loophole to pop up. Take a moment to think through the basic Ts & Cs, and make them known – on your website, or just somewhere in the post.

Unmissable social media posts

Visibility can’t be overemphasised. And while attracting attention to your sale is one thing, making it seem enticing, and well-organised, is another. That’s what good design does. A professional design evokes a quality product or service.

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