December 29th, 2011
By Steve Spence
Over the years, I have tried hundreds of promotional campaigns. Some went gangbusters; some did pretty good and some did just so-so. But I have never had one fall on its face like my last â€œgreat ideaâ€.
I hesitate to tell you what it was because it sounds s-o-o-o good on paper, you might be tempted to try it â€“ but donâ€™t. We sent out 250 personal invitations to people living around the shop to come and do their Christmas shopping by appointment. No crowds, no rushing, no waiting. Total personalized service. I expected a 10-15% response that would bring in about $4,000 in gross sales, maybe more. The cost of the campaign was about $300 and included a full color Conde catalog, full color flyers of new products, and a personal letter. A number of people complimented us on the idea and the quality of the promotion butâ€¦.
Butâ€¦nobody came. I mean nobody. Zero. Less than one. It was just plain embarrassing, disappointing and demotivating.
You ever experienced this yourself? I expect that if you have tried many campaigns, you have experienced disappointment too. Many people become so demoralized, they stop trying and that is the last thing you should let happen.
Promotions are a crap-shoot. Some work and some donâ€™t. This one didnâ€™t (thatâ€™s an understatement!). The next one I dream up will do better â€“ it canâ€™t do any worse. I have nowhere to go but up.
This is why I suggest to Photo-Gifting businesses doing sublimation to keep their promotions small until they know they will work. Be slow to jump into any form of advertising that you canâ€™t â€˜try on for sizeâ€™ first. The cost of a promotional campaign is not significant so long as it brings in enough business to pay for it and still make a profit but those what end up being a bust can really hurt the bottom line. I was prepared to expand my campaign to another thousand homes. Maybe if I had, I would have hit pay dirt but my test market said otherwise and I pulled the plug before I threw good money after bad.
Why did it fail? Was it out too soon or too late in the holiday season? Was there too much literature included? Was the catalog and price sheet too complicated (and it was)? Was it that people were turned off by the appointment concept? I donâ€™t know and I will probably never know but it certainly put me in my place and I learned (or relearned) that not every idea is a good one.
So what do I do now? Iâ€™ll spend a few days licking my wounds and then I will try something else. There are a lot of industrial companies around I havenâ€™t shown sublimated labels to. Maybe that will be next. What about you? What are you planning?