So what makes a good promotion?

In my humble opinion less means more. Keep it simple stupid!

With that I mean – rather promote one or two lines per week. Much better than covering 10 – 12 items over a period of a month. Focus on a few lines at a time and preferably our KVI lines. (KVI = known value items). These are known value items that customers buy from our stores such as cans of Coke. Most customers can put a price to this item when they are buying it from our stores. So when it is on special they will inherently know it is a special straight away when they see it.

And if it is value add promotion even better.

  • (I want to contradict myself right here and now –but that is the subject of further debate down the line. There will be occasions when we will want to promote new lines – ones that we have never stocked before –and indeed we do need to do this to get that line moving. I view this if you like as an introductory promotion and so see it differently from the ones we have been talking about here. We might also want to promote from time to time high margin items with low volume –but these are different marketing tools in my book). 

Next point, don’t let your suppliers drive the product lines on promotion – these are our shelves and we are paying for them either in the form of rent or in capital. Guard their usage well!

In this past month, one supplier had a promotion at more than one of our networks running concurrently! That is a real no-no in my book and it should be dealt with harshly by the oil companies. My son did say that the reason this product was on special in so many stores is that a new competitive product had been launched and he said it was way better than the old one. Be that as it may – I would be mad as a snake if I found my competitor selling exactly the same product on special in the same time period as myself.          

And yes, move away from spending thousands of rands on those glossy promotional pamphlets. They cost thousands of rands and are just as effective as if it were printed on news print –and quite frankly are so passé.  These glossy pieces of paper tell me the customer that it is not really a bargain because someone is paying for this pretty piece of paper.

And another thing, if we have a cool drink on promotion – promote it from the fridge! Anywhere else is a complete waste of time to me. If it is linked to another item in the store such as a pie for example – then say it loud and clear at the fridge. Go and collect your pie on your way out of the store.  There should be no doubt in the mind of the customer that this product is on special and it is linked to a pie. He should be able to see this in a blink of an eye.

Likewise at the pie stand – “I am on promotion my friend – take me and a drink for very little money! – Enjoy” Direct our customers to the linked items effortlessly and easily. There should be no thinking required about how the promotion works. 

Remember the old adage stack them high, stack them deep! We have not yet learned the art of displaying our promotions well. This should be the easy part – but it is possibly the worst area of our business in most of our stores.  They look clinical, and for the most part – like we don’t really mean to put them on special! Sort of like an excuse really. We should be shouting the special from the minute the customer walks into our store! Come and get me!

The disappointment for me is the apparent lack of supplier support….hell they have got our shelf space guaranteed for a period of time, it is on a number of different websites for which they will may or may not have paid – and then there is little or no tangible support on the ground! Where are their representatives? Why have they not helped build these displays?  

  • It makes me wonder from time to time – who is controlling our promotions? Has this become a part of our business where we get kickbacks, ad spend monies and the like-with no thought about our customers?  Please guys, let us not fall prey to the same tactics being applied in supermarkets, where only the big guys win. Where kickbacks, merchandising fees and the like drive our product selection rather than our customers. 

I would hate this to become about us and them! We are in this together, suppliers, oil companies and dealers – let’s see if together we can make a vast difference to the way we run our promotions going forward. We should all be making buckets of money out of these promotions – otherwise why are we doing them at all?

Take care out there


Jocelyn Daly


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  1. #1 by Vernon on July 16, 2009 - 9:23 am

    One problem with multinational franchises is that there is usually one category buyer per group of product lines. This coupled with rather tight agreements mean that any entrepreneurial license that a franchisee may want to excercise is severely restricted. The promotions, merchandising, margins, number and range of promotions are therefore controlled by 2nd and 3rd parties. I would suggest as an excercise, that the franchisees be offered an opportunity to collectively, and probably regionally, to go out and negotiate and put together their own promotion. I wonder what sort of margins and support they might get when they have an influence and insight into the value chain. Me wonders?????

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