Balancing risk with promotional success in a post-Covid world

When I wrote about risk managed promotions earlier this year, I did so in a comparatively broad sense.  We were in the early days of the lockdown and I spoke of the balance between risk and success in sales promotions in much the same way as I would have done six or twelve months earlier.  

Of course, with each passing day the severity of Covid became more apparent and it’s only now, as we potentially start emerging from that, that retrospective analysis starts to take place.  Questions abound as to the impact that the pandemic has had on the ways that success is judged; the impact that it’s had on key risk factors; the appetite of vendors to engage in promotions and to what end; and, of course, the willingness and demand amongst the target market to respond positively to such promotions, whatever they may look like nowadays.

When I was asked recently what impact Covid had had on the success of sales promotions I was momentarily stumped, but having given it further thought I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not simply a case of ‘before’ and ‘after’ Covid.

Indeed, it’s so much more than that.  Approaching any sales promotion in such way as to balance success with risk should entail a level of due diligence that encompasses a number of key factors.  Amongst those are questions relating to whether the promotion is plausible and will appeal to the intended audience; whether the all-important channel partners will embrace the promotion in such way as to effectively promote it; and whether the necessary checks and balances in terms of insurances, parameters and Ts & Cs have effectively been considered and put in place.

These are all key components in effectively approaching a sales promotion; they don’t, however, provide the colour or detail that must always be bespoke to each and every promotion devised and delivered.

And that is why this isn’t simply a discussion based on pre- and post-Covid.  

Whilst we’ve seen the response to some promotions drop noticeably as a direct result of the pandemic, others have proven to be phenomenally successful as a result of it – albeit with a significant amount of pivoting and refocusing required.  Something that hasn’t at any stage changed is the need to cross analysis with previous promotions and draw relevant learnings where appropriate.  Nor has the need to mitigate risk and insure against it waivered – some of the risks may have shifted in focus (although it is still too early to judge to what extent), but when approached on a case by case basis, the need to have these safeguards in place remains as steadfast as ever.

There have, however, been some surprising shifts.  Whereas in the past, vendors will have had a firm eye on positively impacting the bottom line with a promotion, there are an increasing number now for whom a promotion is viewed as a worthwhile route to successfully rebuilding brand awareness even if sales aren’t significantly impacted too.  Whether that is something to remain long term remains to be seen but it certainly adds an interesting angle to consider moving forward. 

With a positive outlook, the lockdown has, in many instances, created both pent-up demand as well as a desire amongst vendors to re-engage with end-users.  

Whilst, in some respects, the landscape in which sales promotions are managed may feel different, now might in fact be the ideal time to consider what is best for your business.  If you do, make sure you engage with an expert team with proven experience in approaching sales promotions in a way that successfully balances risk with success – whatever that may look like.