The Shelf Life of Promotional Activities

Has your company ever honed a promotional activity only to see it lose its potency right as you perfect it? The frustrating fact is that promotional activities have a shelf life.

This happens because the more effective you get at targeting a market the faster you tap the folks who respond to a given approach. A company I worked at had honed direct mail to a fine art over 3 years – our response rates consistently topped 2%. All of a sudden our response rates were down to 1%. We knew our stuff was good – it had worked in the past. But over those 3 years we had reached most of the folks who responded to mail.

What can you do when this happens? Follow me to the flip for 3 suggestions.

First – try introducing a new activity into the existing one – a marketing mash up. This is usually the easiest approach since you don’t abandon the expertise you have developed. We started mixing direct mail with web response and our response rates shot up over 5% – for a while.

Second – try the opposite approach. We started running a series of invitation only live seminars to generate leads (our product was expensive enough to justify this) and it turned into our breadwinner for the next couple of years.

Third – never get too dependent on just one approach. I recommend that companies always be trying something outside their comfort zone with 10% of the marketing budget, something scary. Worst case – you learn something. Best case – you reach a new audience.

Of course all of this presumes you have the processes and systems in place to track the effectiveness of all your campaigns. Without the ability to benchmark and compare activities over time you can get mired in marketing programs that no longer generate any return at all.

A final note – this might appear to conflict with my advice about marketing messaging, but it is important to distinguish between the message and the where it is delivered. The message should have a nice long life.