GUIDE TO SP OFF-PACK PROMOTIONS: START THINKING OFF-THE-SHELF

Off-pack promotions are a great way to entice consumers to your brand, but the message still needs to be relevant.

1. Choose a mechanic that fits the objectives of the campaign. Understand the objectives of the off-pack push - be it trade press, online marketing, door drops, direct marketing or sampling - and communicate these clearly. Off-pack is particularly suited to encouraging consumers to try a product or to raise brand awareness. "Off-pack promotions are about creating a brand experience," claims John Donnelly, managing director of BD-Ntwk.

2. Think laterally. As the medium is broader, there are more opportunities for marketers to consider innovative ways to increase take-up of their product. Offering a free gift is a promotion technique Billington Cartmell used in a campaign for Ribena, offering a free 'Ribenaberry' cuddly toy with every two-litre bottle. "Off-pack promotions are also an opportunity to influence your own distribution channels, since they offer an incentive for distributors to stock more of a particular brand," says Ian Millner, managing director of Iris.

3. Consider tactical promotions. An on-pack promotion might take at least 12 months to put together, but an off-pack promotion can be put together much more quickly. This provides an opportunity for companies to use off-pack tactically and respond rapidly to events or competitor activity.

4. Keep the message simple. BD-Ntwk's Donnelly warns marketers not to confuse consumers in their promotions: "Communicate your message with clarity. Make it engaging, so that consumers want to take part."

5. Know your audience. Creating an off-pack promotion that is relevant to your audience and the brand objectives is crucial. "The more you understand the lives of your target audience and the more you are able to create a promotion relevant to them, the more likely your chances in persuading them to buy something," says Iris' Millner.

6. Choose prizes that are aspirational. "It is not just about appealing to your customer's classic profile, but knowing how to push their buttons," claims Felice Nichols, account director at Tequila London. "The prize has got to be aspirational." For example, First Direct is offering consumers a luxury holiday to Monte Carlo if they sign up to an offset mortgage.

7. Create an integrated campaign. More often than not, on-pack promotions are accompanied by off-pack campaigns. Similarly, while an off-pack promotion can work successfully as a standalone tactical method, it will create greater awareness if it is run as part of a larger, integrated campaign.

8. Minimise exposure to risk. "To avoid miscalculating redemption rates, do lots of research to understand your audience and target market. Second, talk to an insurance or fixed-fee company," says Tequila London's Nichols. Both over-redemption insurance and fixed-fee contracts help mitigate a company's exposure to the financial liability of a promotion and stretch the marketing budget.

9. Spend your budget wisely. Iris' Millner suggests strategic alliances as a way of building brand awareness among your target audience, while maximising your budget. Its clients T-Mobile and Sony Ericsson recently teamed up for a promotion tied into Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle. Consumers buying a T610 mobile phone received a leaflet directing them to T-Mobile's portal to claim a "full throttle" experience worth up to £100, and entry into a prize draw. It achieved a response rate of 11 per cent.

10. Take the creative option. "Making a promotion look exciting is something we should always try to achieve," says Tequila's Nichols.

CASE STUDY - CARLSBERG

As the official beer sponsor of the FA Cup, the shirt sponsor for Liverpool FC and official beer sponsor for Euro 2004, Carlsberg is keen to build a reputation for itself as the beer brand for football fans.

It worked with Billington Cartmell during this year's FA Cup to develop a promotion that would provide a "football experience" for the Carlsberg consumer.

The agency linked up with Asda to offer consumers the opportunity to play a virtual reality game of the FA Cup final set at the Millennium Stadium. While anyone entering the store was allowed to play the game, only those who bought a 24-pack of Carlsberg received an inflatable FA Cup trophy to take home.

"The aim was to reward the consumer who bought Carlsberg, and associate Carlsberg with all things to do with football," says Jonathan Harper, account director at Billington Cartmell. The campaign achieved 100 per cent sales uplift of Carlsberg and 400 per cent of Carlsberg Export. Asda is keen to run the promotion again in February, and increase the number of stores that feature it. Carlsberg also plans to extend the promotion to other brands.

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