Guide to SP Techniques: Raising awareness - How to boost brand profile

Sales promotion is no longer about merely shifting boxes - now sales and brand-building go hand-in-hand, says Stuart Derrick.

Sales promotion is a key sales driver, but in today's competitive market, it is increasingly required to also do a branding job. With marketers keen to constantly reinforce brand values, promotional communications are frequently called upon to boost awareness.

As Graham Greene, Meerkat chairman, notes: "In the past, SP was about shifting boxes and nobody cared too much about the effect activity had on the brand. You cannot separate the two any more. Promotions should enhance and support a brand."

Many techniques, from DM to sponsorship, can raise awareness but, according to the Institute of Sales Promotion diploma, prize promotions and self-liquidating pushes are among the most effective. This guide can only give a brief overview of how these techniques work, but will provide a useful starting point for planning activity.

Prize promotions

Prize promotions aren't simply about enticing prospective consumers with a juicy incentive such as a cash prize or consumer durable. Cleverly thought out, the technique can reflect brand values. Earlier this year, Meerkat ran a £2 million scratchcard cash giveaway for Dulux's trade business.

Greene says the prize fund supported Dulux's position as the biggest brand in the sector.

There are several basic prize promotions, each with its own particular uses. But prize promotions are subject to legal restrictions and it's sensible to check that activity adheres to the guidelines of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.


Promoters can't run pushes where the chance to win a prize is linked to the purchase of product - these are classed as illegal lotteries. As a result, promoters favour competitions where consumers are required to use some form of skill or judgement. This gets them involved with the brand and so raises awareness.

A case in point is postcard media firm Boomerang, which was facing a tough advertising market. Its agency, Swordfish, came up with a campaign designed to boost Boomerang's profile with the public and media schedulers.

Swordfish director Steve Richards says: "We came up with an old-fashioned competition mechanic. The push, called the Golden Boomerang, required participants to solve clues and locate the prize. We ended up with 150,000 players and huge media interest."

It's worth noting that competitions may appeal less to consumers looking for a more instant reward. Other main points to note include: competitions could require a handling element that has to be factored into the budget planning, and any judging must be fair and transparent.

Prize draws

This mechanic generally asks the consumer to submit their details for the chance to win a prize. You cannot require purchase, but prize draws may be used to achieve presence in-store. "The classic example is a 'Win this bike today' promotion," says Chris Bestley, education director at the ISP. "It gives you an opportunity to gain display as well as generating data, which may be useful."

Flexibility is a big strength. Competitions can be run off-pack on leaflets or through media partners to tight deadlines, which might be beyond on-pack activity. The downside is that it may not drive sales and today's consumers, used to more instant gratification, may not find it that appealing.

Instant win

The instant win was dreamed up to help promoters get round existing laws that preclude illegal lotteries.

The free entry route allows promoters to offer instant prizes as no purchase is necessary to enter the promotion.

Mike Pragnell, group account director at Fotorama, says: "Although you are not required to purchase, most people do. However, not all prizes may be claimed so you are often able to offer a larger headline-grabbing prize."

Because of the free entry route, clients will have to arrange a handling house to deal with mail, email or SMS entries. The technique remains one of the most popular with promoters and consumers because of its immediate rewards. But there has been some concern that its ubiquity could reduce its effectiveness.

Self- liquidating promotions

Promoters can make their budgets go further by getting consumers to fund activity, otherwise known as self-liquidating promotions (SLP). Typically, consumers send proof of purchase and a cash sum towards the cost of an item. An offer can be described as "free" even if the consumer is required to pay full postage and packing.

Pragnell says an imaginative premium can perform a valuable branding job.

Although SLPs should present no risk, in reality they can backfire if the offer under- or over-redeems and there are stock issues. For this reason many promoters opt for fixed fee insurance cover, says Pragnell.

But it can be difficult to guess what will do well and SLPs are another technique that fail to excite those who want instant rewards. "In some ways, the SLP is the weakest form of sales promotion," says Bestley. "They cost the least but unless you have something like the Andrex puppy, they also achieve the least in comparison to prize promotions."


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Ex-Thomas Cook marketer Mike Hoban resurfaces at Morrisons
Barbour creates real-time illustrations of consumers' stories for summer campaign
Viral review: Samsung goes for Apple’s jugular but fails to connect
View from Brazil: why we didn't believe we could lose the World Cup
Heineken unveils ‘Open Your City’ drive with Metro for ‘men of the world’
Unilever continues portfolio 'reshaping' with Slim-Fast sale
Amazon to fight US authorities over in-app purchase claims
Google set to invest $100m in Europe's tech start-ups
Metcalfe's set to release quirky debut TV ad
Samsung pities the iPhone 'wall huggers'
Smirnoff campaign aims to make Formula One less elitist
Apple wins EU battle to register store layout as trademark
Marketing directors need to step outside 'marketing box' to earn seat on the board
Hottest virals: Burger King’s emotional gay pride Whopper ad, plus Apple and Guinness
Developer creates software enabling Google Glass mind-control
Kick-ass girl beats up shopping centre staff in music video
Top 10 ads of the week: Aldi's World Cup cider ad scores with consumers
Sony relives Germany's 7-1 victory against Brazil in Subbuteo Vine
Burberry credits 9% revenue hike on strong online sales and 'more targeted marketing'
Ritz returns to UK TV screens after 30-year hiatus
Mars creates chief health and wellbeing officer role
Brands make the most of Germany's dramatic victory over Brazil
Adios Justin King! Watch our video tribute as he leaves Sainsbury's after a decade
Nike calls time on 13-year Manchester United kit deal
Three TV ad banned over misleading 'free' call claims
GNM boss David Pemsel: 'The Guardian has got its mojo back'
M&S has missed a massive opportunity to put digital strategy at its heart
Google partners with the Barbican to show coders are artists
Samaritans encourages men to talk about issues with #DownNotOut campaign
Lego's partnership with Shell 'not awesome', according to Greenpeace viral