Time has taken on a whole new meaning since the start of the pandemic. Many of the usual milestones by which we measure the passage of time have been erased leaving us wandering aimlessly and confused until confronted by a milestone that DOES still exist. And here we are, just over half way through 2021 already. For many – especially those in big tech – this will signal the end of one financial year and the start of a new one…

And let’s face it, the past 18 months have been tough for many in the IT ecosystem.  Customer demand has skyrocketed at the exact time that crippling supply issues have continued.  You’re exhausted from continuously fighting the supply chain, batting back discount requests, navigating internal changes and the myriad of other challenges that Covid so graciously chucked at us.

Then, wham!  You’re at that point in the year where “what is next year’s budget?”, “Have targets been set yet?”, “Is growth going to continue at the same pace?”, “When will supply recover?”, “What supply is needed?”, “What are customers demanding?” are the frenetic questions circling like hungry vultures ready to pounce.

Targets get set for continued growth, supply remains a problem, demand is tricky to predict and your partner network reports that business is going well.  But let’s face it, no-one really knows what demand levels are or are likely to become and targets only work when the supply can meet those targets.

You’d be mad to run a promotion now, right?  You wouldn’t want to create yet more demand when supply is already under pressure, right?  WRONG!

Wrong?  I can’t surely be serious, can I?  Yes, absolutely I can be!

For just a minute, remove considerations around supply and demand from the discussion and consider why else a promotion might be an option:

  • Strong competitors will place growth as their number one priority – you only need one of these for it to become a threat
  • Some of your products or solutions haven’t performed as well as they should, and you need to steer a path to solving that
  • Your market share amongst some partners, customers and segments is lower than you’d like it to be, and you need to change that
  • You have a desire to be in business a year from now – and beyond. You’re only ever going to achieve this with a vision for growth

 

The point here is that there’s a significant gap in how the word ‘promotion’ is seen in our industry – I think of it as the battle of big P vs little p: Promotion vs promotion!

At the core of this debate is the issue of pricing – all too often, promotions are thought of in terms of pricing and reductions there-of.  This is where the ‘little p’ applies but step away from this iteration and you’ll be well placed to consider Promotions, with a ‘big P’.

 

Not convinced?  Consider these scenarios…

  • You have a hero product or solution. It boasts a range of ‘revolutionary’, ‘one of a kind’, features, but it’s never been a big volume product, never really been launched properly aside from a few brochures, the VP posting on Linkedin and a PR-led review. What are you doing about this?

 

Imagine a campaign to drive awareness and target the specific customers you know would be interested. A campaign supported with the right partner community, aligned with a solid plan on how to influence those decision makers and completed with a ‘call to action’ that drives decision making and conversion, such as a ‘proof of concept’ offer. Now, we have a Promotion – big ‘P’ – and, importantly, at no point has the product been discounted.

  • You have a core product portfolio. You talk about key trends, maybe your MD has posted a nice piece about sustainability.  A corporate decision has been made around sustainability goals such a being carbon neutral by 2030 and your products are increasingly utilising recycled materials and new packaging.  What are you doing about this?

 

Sustainability is a real challenge.  Talking about it is one thing but action is needed, and those actions will speak a thousand words, confirming your commitment to the goals you’ve set. You may choose to offer customers a way of offsetting the carbon emissions that their new device can be seen as responsible for, or you might support those customers in the return of older tech to prevent e-waste.  You release a MD statement, you engage your partners on the subject through training and support, and again you provide a ‘call to action’.  Once again, we have a ‘Promotion’ and price isn’t part of the conversation.

  • The supply/demand balance shifts. Depending on what you read and who you believe, current supply constraints will ease this year. Growth is already down compared to frenzied prior quarters and on that trajectory, it will soon flatten, or even reverse. What are you doing about this?

 

Reduced growth and improved supply is something to get ahead of now before your competitors do.  A well-timed, perfectly executed ‘Promotion’ will stand you in good stead compared to those who wait – they’ll be going backwards and in doing so, will force knee jerk pricing action, breaking all the rules of well-considered promotions.

So, you see, promotions are never about pricing – or at least shouldn’t be. Pricing is pricing and is a skill all of its own.  The skill in Promotion – big P – is looking at demand and mapping that against the solution, the service, the partner or the offering that best supports YOUR business goals; YOUR growth; YOUR success.

When you do this, then it’s clear that Promotion wins the battle of the Ps.