Jun 252017

7 Quick And Easy Ideas For Clever Sales Promotions 

You may, rightly, be asking yourself what exactly is meant by the term sales promotions in this context. While there are various competing definitions for the term sales promotions, here we are going to keep it very simple.

For our purposes in this article, sales promotions means: any promotion that you use to increase the sales of your products or services.

So, let’s dive right into the seven ideas for sales promotions that you can use in your business.

Cause-related Promotions

Have a special sale, for a limited time, or if you’re really committed to the cause, on an ongoing basis, where a certain percentage of the revenues (or profits) is donated to the cause.

This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, if you are committed to supporting certain causes.

Also, if the supporters of that cause (those causes) match up well demographically to your target market(s), then this sales promotion can yield significant results.

Joint Promotions With Other Vendors

Sales promotions that you do jointly with other complementary vendors can yield excellent results. This is particularly true if your clientele aligns well with that of the joint promoter.

The alignment of your business with that of your joint promoter can be based on geography, complementarity of offerings, joint support of a particular cause, or any of a number of other factors.

Brainstorm a list of potential joint promoters and see what you can come up with for ideas.

Free Gift With Purchase

What customer does not like to receive something for free? These sales promotions where you offer a free gift with purchase leverage the innate human desire to receive something for nothing.

From your perspective as a vendor, such a giveaway does not need to be costly, particularly if you have certain goods that you need to liquidate. The giveaway has to be seen as something valuable, of course, or it will not work, but as the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Interestingly, if you sell services, you can also give away a free (shorter, for example) consultation that could also lead to additional business.

Flash Sale

Flash sales have become very popular as sales promotions.

The key with flash sales is that you need to have good communication set up with your customers and prospective customers, usually via email and social media, so that you can make them aware of an impending flash sale. If you have to depend on a slower medium of communication such as “snail mail,” to get the word out, by definition, it takes the flash out of the flash sale.

Flash sales can be very effective. The main caveat is to not overuse them, as once they become less surprising and more of a regular event, the novelty wears off and they become less effective.

A good use of the flash sale can be when you have particular inventory (or consulting time, for example, if you’re selling a service) that you need to liquidate.


Coupons are a tried and true type of sales promotions.

The key with coupons is that you must make the coupon valid for something the customer perceives to be of value, so it will draw them into the store. Or, more commonly, you’ll make the coupon valid for a certain percentage off storewide, sometimes excluding specific items, where your cost prohibits offering too large of a percentage discount.

Another important aspect of coupons is the length of their validity. As a consumer, it’s frustrating to have the thought to go to a particular store, or use a particular service, to make use of a coupon, only to realize that the coupon is no longer valid. If the idea of the coupon is to draw people into your store, or into using your service, make its validity as long as reasonably possible.

As with other promotions mentioned herein, it’s typically prudent to state that the coupon is not valid in conjunction with other offers or discounts.

BOGO Sales

Buy-one Get-one sales promotions have become very common, as have variants of this approach, like Buy-one Get-one-half-off. This type of promotion works very well, under the premise that more is better. If you want one of a particular item, why wouldn’t you want more of the same (or similar) item?

This type of sales promotion is also somewhat evergreen, as it’s not likely to ever “get old” that you are getting two for the price of one, or similar.

This approach is also quite helpful when you are trying to get rid of excess inventory of particular items, while at the same time offering a promotion that should bring more people into the store.

Loss Leader

The concept of sales promotions often referred to as “loss leaders” is when you are willing to take a bit of a loss on the item you are promoting, under the assumption (hopefully, supported by sales data) that when customers purchase the “loss leader” item, they are likely to also purchase other items that more than make up for the lost profit on the “loss leader”.

With this type of promotion, you need to not try to get too cute and have only one or two of the “loss leader” items, as if you take that approach, besides potentially running afoul of the law (bait and switch advertising, or similar), you are likely to end up with a lot of upset customers. Those upset customers likely will not only not buy other items from you that particular day; they may not every come back to your store.

So, this loss leader sales promotion can work well, particularly when it’s data-backed (prior sales data), but think it through well and do it honestly.

There are, of course, many potential variations of the ideas above for sales promotions. Hopefully, the seven ideas discussed above will get your creative juices flowing!

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.


Paul Morin