CAIRO: As marketing tools progress, companies try to find innovative ways to attract costumers. From buy-one-get-one-free offers to seasonal discounts, companies are always vying for consumers attention.
Although advertisements influence consumer choices, giveaways and promotions are another key tactic. Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat, for example, are constantly announcing new promotions in the competitive battle between mobile operators.
Holidays, when a flurry of text messages are being sent back and forth, are high time for special offers. This past New Year s, Vodafone offered a 25-50 percent discount on all international calls.
Mobinil’s Twinkle offer, for example, gives parents using the Star line free unlimited calls to their children. Along with the offer is a mobile designed for kids with special features such as two special call buttons: one for mom and another for dad.
Another campaign that has been the talk of the town is C&CO s PercentAGE campaign, where customers get a percent discount based on their age. For once, the older you are the better.
Ahmed Ragab, commercial director and managing partner of C&Co., said he got the idea from a store in France. The objective of the campaign is to reach out to potential older customers.
Most companies offer promotions when they are overstocked, he said, but our philosophy is different: It is not supplier-oriented but consumer-based.
According to Ragab, the sales pitch has been effective. It gained 150 percent over expectation and enabled the company to acquire a [significant] market share.
The people behind the idea thought younger customers would bring in their parents and even grandparents to get a bigger discount. Moreover, because they employed a strategy new to Egypt’s market, they gained much from word-of-mouth advertising.
Some younger customers reportedly approached random older people on the street and asked if they’d pretend to be relatives. One man brought his dead grandmother s ID, said Ragab, but in order to use the offer, the ID carrier should be present.
However, it s not always easy or effective for company s to offer promotions.
Promotions should be done carefully, said Ahmed Tolba, an AUC marketing professor. Companies might use promotions at the early stages to drive trial, then use them occasionally to excite consumers, but avoid over-using them to protect brand image, he added.
Ola Bakeer, who has been working in marketing since 1995, said that when marketing a product, research has to be conducted by the marketing group and the ideas for different campaigns are gathered.
It is also important to study the competitor, and how they market their product. After that one has to search for possible outlets to display an item.
If you’re marketing a laundry detergent, for instance, companies should partner with supermarkets to display their product in the storefront.
Another key is the target audience. When marketing for medical products, doctors and pharmacist are targeted, while marketing for beauty products, one would offer giveaways to beauty salons, Bakeer said.
One idea Bakeer and her team came up with is to offer flavored bonbons with children s medicine so kids can start to like the taste of medicine.
It’s also always fun – and effective – to engage consumers in a competition. Mountain Dew campaign in the summer of 2006 had a team driving around Cairo’s streets in Mini Coopers, giving passersby s holding cans of Mountain Dew gifts or money.
At the time of the campaign, it was common to spot a group of people putting their cans of Mountain Dew on display. However, when the campaign ended, most of those who drank six bottles a day stopped or cut their consumption short.
Marketing is all about long-terms gains, Tolba said. It is important that you keep satisfying your customers to drive loyalty and ensure long-term sales and profits.