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Knock-Out Ideas to Turn Your Promos Into WINNERS

Knock-Out Ideas to Turn Your Promos Into WINNERS

September 27, 2009

Try holding a 'Get Smart Session'with your team

Caroline Zimmermann stole this idea from the military. Before a general meets with the President at the White House, the general and his staff hold a 'Get Smart Session' which is a briefing in which they review all the questions the president could possibly ask so the general is well-prepared.

Zimmermann holds her own Get Smart Sessions every week at her New York ad agency with her employees. But in this case, each person is required to bring a marketing promotion that grabbed their attention. It could be something from online, in the mail or just something they saw on TV. They must present it to everyone at the meeting and explain why that piece grabbed their attention. She says those meetings are a gold-mine for ideas, no matter what industry you're in.

'If it's a good idea, it's translatable to whatever you're doing.'

I know first-hand how tough it is to run an ad agency and as our guest on this month's teleseminar was talking about one great idea after another, I had to interrupt to ask a question. I was dying to find out the answer.

Caroline Zimmermann is owner of the Zimmermann Ad Agency in New York City and for 40 years she's been putting her neck on the line as someone who promises to deliver a winning promotion. Put her promotion up against another promotion, and she's betting she'll win. If she does, she continues to get work. If not, she's out! That got my attention!

'You put yourself out there as someone who beats other packages,' I said. 'You tell people, 'You have a control package. You think you're good. I can beat it.' How do you have so much chutzpah to live by the sword or die by the sword?'

Her answer was interesting. First, she says she refuses to fail. You hear about Tiger Woods who refuses to lose. In the same way, Zimmermann is tenacious about finding ways to make a marketing promotion successful. But she also said something interesting that is another great take-away for anyone who is consulting with customers or clients'

Most people don't know their own business, she says. 'It's simply shocking to me how many people really don't know that much about their product, their market and they don't know much about what has worked for them,' Zimmermann says. 'At least 75% of the time I talk with people there are major flaws in their base of information and that is inexcusable.'

That's AMAZING! And it's a vote of confidence for anyone working with other businesses. That means we can feel confident going into a client meeting in just about any situation because they probably don't have the knowledge they need and a history of success behind them. Just by showing up you can point out 75% of those flaws and win the business.

For example, Zimmermann said, she was talking with a major magazine publisher about a promotion they wanted her to write.

She asked them about their $19.95 price and the publisher confirmed that it was their lowest price. But when she checked on the magazine's website she saw they offered it for $14.95.

The publisher had forgotten about the low price offer - and that it 'blew the $19.95 price out of the water!'

The key, she says, is to ask lots of questions and constantly look for ideas to test in your marketing.

Here are 5 more tips from Zimmermann:

1. There's money in your mailbox. Open your mail and look at how other marketers are positioning their products and how they're trying to grab your attention. Even if you've never done a marketing campaign, you can get great ideas from other marketers just by opening your mailbox.

2. Test your prices. For years Kiplinger was trying to increase its subscription price from $10 a year to $12 to increase revenue. They tried $11 offers and $12 offers and nothing worked. So they re-tested an old promotion offering the publication for $8 plus $3.97 shipping and handling. It won. So they tested prices as low as $5 plus $3.97 shipping and handling. Guess what? The lower price brought in so many more orders they were able to lower their price and make more money. Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to test old ideas. And when you do find a winner, don't be afraid to test your winner.

3. Try the P.A.I.D (Personalize, Arouse, Isolate and Dramatize) technique when developing a marketing package. Personalize the copy for the reader. Example: a chiropractor hired us to develop a marketing campaign to lawyers whose clients may be victims of a back injury. So we sent the lawyers a personalized mug with a newspaper article on the front that said 'Joe Smith voted attorney of the year' (see picture above). The mailing cost $10 per piece but it was extremely effective and generated business for the chiropractor. Next, Arouse the reader and pique their curiosity. Isolate what your product or service does that's unique. Make it stand out. And Dramatize the benefits. Tell a story of how your product has helped others.

4. Look for the 'buried treasures' in your old marketing pieces to see how you can improve them. When working with American Express' travel magazine, for example, Zimmermann noticed that its previous promotions included an airline companion ticket worth up to $600. But the bait was secondary. 'I knew that as soon as I brought that to the forefront, I'd blow the other promotions out of the water.' And she did.

5. Put your ideas on paper. When thinking about a promotion, write down the top 3 things that you think will make your marketing piece stand out. This should come easily. If not, you need to rethink it.