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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

What Everybody Ought to Know About Promotional Marketing


I had the good fortune to ask 20-year Promotional Marketing pro Kent Rippey to break down how promotional marketing works.

Don’t let the silly photo fool you — this guy has helped the largest companies in the world nail promotional partnerships.

Promotional Marketing Pro Kent Rippey

Promotional Marketing Pro Kent Rippey

Here’s the Q&A:

Q: Hi Kent. Here’s a lob ball question to start us off:

What is “promotional marketing?”

Promotional Marketing (A.K.A. “Promotions Marketing” or “Partnership Marketing”) has two main executions.

1) Promotions or Promotional Marketing refers to using a sweepstakes, contest, game of chance or some similar mechanism to attract significantly more attention to their product, service, company than if they simply did standard marketing practices (primarily using advertising – to their distribution system (b2b), or the end user (b2c)).

2) Partnership Marketing involves the marriage of two basic principals:

A) A company with an “exciting” brand or property (think of a movie or video game release, or a current technology product that is “in-demand”, like a TV, MP3 player, or eReader) that always needs additional exposure over and above what their marketing spend will allow, combined with

B) An unrelated company or product with a similar demographic, a marketing budget of their own, and perhaps a “less exciting” marketing message (think basic household items) that could use some “excitement” to bring their brand or property to life.

Q: What are the main benefits to a business that uses promotional marketing?

The idea of Promotional and Partnership Marketing are the same – trying to combine the “power” of two marketing powerhouses to create a powerful message for each.  For the “exciting property-holder”, they will get a dramatically higher amount of exposure for the property.

For the other company, it usually is the association and the concurrent promotion (i.e. sweepstakes) with the exciting property that they are seeking.  Both sides win.

Q: What’s an example of promotional marketing using real-life companies?

Things you see every day – a beverage and a video game company get together, and the video game title is highly anticipated.

The beverage company negotiates to do a promotion of some sort using the video game title and is allowed to put the game’s cover art on millions of cans and bottles.

In exchange, the video game company allows the use of the art, provides some sort of prizing, and perhaps includes branding for the beverage into the game itself.

When all is said and done, the campaign kicks-off on a strategic date (release of the game) and both brands/companies see the benefit of increased awareness, press, and hopefully sales.

The things you can’t see – such as increased consumer perception of the brand or property – (hopefully) follow suit as well.

Q: What are some tips on how to build a world-class email list using promotional marketing?

Very simple: consistency and promotions!  Building a loyal fan base takes time – and I don’t mean a year (as some budgets won’t allow), but indefinite commitment.

Building trust, consistency of offers, getting your customers involved, and let’s face it – excitement – is what draws and retains fans of your brand property or company.

These days, we are seeing similar trends in social media, so budgets have to allow for these types of campaigns on sites like facebook and twitter as well.

Q: What are the main promotional marketing tools you use?

The most common are advertising (TV / radio / web / print etc.), on-pack (actually on your retail display box / carton / point of purchase display material), email lists (both yours and the partner), and social media (facebook, twitter, etc.).

Others used can involve launch date events, sampling, and other interactive tools.

Q: How does a business go about finding promotional marketing products to include in a deal?

Be realistic.  Evaluate your product or service and do some real research to determine your audience.

Consult someone with an extensive network of contacts to determine your goals – do you want to target a new audience for your product, or simply increase loyalty and market to those who are your current users?

This will determine who to go after and what types of products will make the most sense to partner with.

Q: Does money have to exchange hands in a promotional marketing deal?

Again, being realistic is key: it totally depends on what you have to offer.

If you want to tie in with a blockbuster film, be prepared to hear “no” from a studio or be prepared to pay for the privilege to be associated with the other partner.  It may be worth paying for in some cases.

Q: Is there category exclusivity in promotional marketing?

Most of the time.  While there are instances where it can’t be offered, one thing that is discussed early in conversations is exclusivity, and most of the time it is granted.

Q: Who is the hottest promotional marketing partner right now, and why?

There is no “hottest” partner, but you’ll see the same companies over and over.

The include entertainment properties, QSR (fast food retailers), beverage companies, cookie and cereal companies, and of course products that are the “it” goods of the time (think technology companies).

Hot partners are closely related with current trends as well as brand demographics.  You’d be surprised how many companies could have “hot” products with the right partnership and promotion.

Q: Do you have to be a large consumer packaged goods-type company to take advantage of promotional marketing?

You don’t have to be, but you have to be big enough to bring something to the table: advertising, promotional activity, social media, physical locations, on- package real estate, cash, etc.

Otherwise, the partnership will be lopsided and the partner that feels that they are giving much more than receiving will back out.

It’s my job to work with each partner to be sure that each is getting the maximum benefit from the program given honest and open parameters.

Q: Thanks, Kent. If someone wanted to utilize your promotional marketing services, how should they get in touch with you?

Send me an email to [email protected] – that’s the easiest way to reach me.

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