Promotions are the final “P” of the product marketing mix. Our promotions are designed to create demand. Several of these promotions are executed through the Channel Marketing department which has already been discussed. Others are handled by PR, Online Marketing, Advertising, Direct Marketing, and Event Marketing.
An essential way to create demand for the ACE category and the Acme product line is through an effective PR plan. Most of the PR plan is already detailed in the strategic communications program submitted by our PR agency, GetYourPress Communications.
Following is a brief synopsis of the PR objections and strategies:
It is critical that we build awareness and credibility for Acme in the marketplace. Acme needs to be positioned as the leading provider of desktop Widget tools. This requires that we change the general perception of Acme from a tool provider, to a tool provider for the Web animal developers. A major obstacle will be to demonstrate the need and demand for ACE development.
In order to meet Acme’s objectives, we must first establish and maintain relationships with a key press, analysts and gurus. We must then develop, communicate and exploit the Acme technology advantages–part of this effort will require proof of concept and customer references. We must then monitor and position Acme within the context of the marketplace and differentiate Acme and its products from competitors. Finally, once we have developed our reputation as the owner of the ACE space we must be consistent in our corporate and product key messages.
Online Marketing (Website)
A key tool for building awareness and to position Acme in the ACE community is to create our own ACE web site as the first proof of concept. This is currently in progress for the initial introduction by February 15th. Our goal is to be the top ACE source on the Web. We plan to offer a list and calendar of upcoming Animal events, provide links to all the known ACE sites, and provide original content to keep users coming back.
Once our own site is up and running we will launch a campaign to link to every other ACE site possible. We will also initiate our campaign to recruit the top 100 ACE sites and will provide software, templates and initial support to get them up and running ASAP. As we develop content for our site we can also incorporate the templates to create ACE galleries for use within our upcoming products.
Another use for our on-line site is to distribute trial versions of our ACE browser and ACE editing software. This on-line avenue will prove invaluable in our overall strategy to capture the ACE editing market.
As part of our online development, we will rearrange our site with an organized plan-o-gram that leads visitors along the virtual isles of our site. Sort of like walking into a Toys R Us and being guided along a predetermined path to ensure the greatest sales. Mapping and tracking help us ensure that visitors go where we want and see what we intend.
(Note: The numbers at the end of each item corresponds to the number on the Gantt chart that shows who will execute and the expected time frame. The accompanying Gantt chart in this sample marketing plan does not contain this much detail, but it is left here so you are aware that all executables should have timeframes for completion to ensure the team executes, not just plans. When this plan is signed off on, the dates are locked and everybody starts making it happen).
We will also add the following new items to the Web site:
- A new download section that is as secure as the BBS will be added so we can allow the Internet, not just BBS updates. To ensure security, we can pick a series of passwords from the manuals and have it changed automatically. 
- Competitive matrix (autoformatting). 
- A lite version of the new monthly newsletter will be available on the site. In addition, we will maintain the latest copy of FYI. Continuously new content will encourage frequent return visits. [114, 140, 158, 167, 172, 195, 205, 217]
- The site will sport a new reseller and VAR lookup database. The visitor can enter his city and zip and the database will pull up the top resellers in his area, highlighting the level of certification–that will encourage resellers to get certified. 
- Total Solution section. The site will identify the top 20 verticals with case studies and special links. This section will be helpful for the press and customers. 
- We will add a new online threaded newsgroup section. This will help us form a stronger online and site-specific community focused on Acme. 
- We will have a special reseller only section. This area will have banner ads from our partners (paid or free). The reseller section will contain the following items: 
- Online collateral in Adobe Acrobat format. 
- New case studies related to setup and solution selling. 
- Online collateral ordering. 
- Selling Tip of the Month. [68, 93, 125, 144, 161, 177, 196, 206, 218]
- Auto lead lookup. 
- Online certification testing. [131, 133]
- The top Reseller of the Month. 
- The site will have an online shopping section with weekly specials. Including, “Find the Chanimal” and other contest. 
- In addition, the site will have online product registration with an incentive to register (free limited-time subscription to either ACE World or ACE Automation—both have expressed willingness). [58, 62, 63]
Of course, there will also be a constant vigil to ensure that our site is found on the major search sites so we can leverage this powerful marketing tool. See the Gantt chart for additional improvements.
Another way to promote the company and its products is by generating demand through advertising. Since advertising is a relatively new area for the company it will be approached with discretion and intelligence. Typically the most effective advertising strategy is to advertise aggressively at the time of launch and to continue specific placements for two to three months. Then, a less aggressive advertising program may be staggered in the following months if required based on the competitive nature of the market.
Each ad campaign will have several measurement mechanisms in place prior to the campaign. First, there will be a strong direct response coupon to solicit a request. Second, there will be a different Internet address assigned to each publication. Third, we can use and later analyze the results from the standard readership response (bingo) cards.
It is important to note that those ads that do not pay for themselves as well as generate additional revenues will be examined closely for possible elimination from the schedule. However, it is also important to realize that most ads typically only generate an ROI that is 20-50% of their cost. Even though the company doesn’t get 100% trackable returns, advertising still generates a halo effect that creates interest, demand and drives customers into the stores to purchase the product.
When asked why he continued to advertise when he couldn’t track specific ROI, one of my past managers replied, “Because sales substantially increase when I do, and dramatically decrease when I don’t.”
- Chanimal Tip: Poll a subset of your resellers to find out whose product they typically recommend before allocating your money on advertising. If resellers recommend your competitor’s product most of the time, you could be branding customers with ads only to send them into “the enemy camp” where 61% of the time (DataQuest) they will be switched. It is recommended to first increase the “recommendation rate” (see Channel Marketing) prior to the big campaign. At one company I increased the recommendation rate from 13% to 76% first, which allowed me to then cut my advertising budget 70%.
The media schedule, concepting and production timeline is detailed within the Gantt chart. [8, 17, 18, 24, 28, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, 59, 60, 65, 67, 74, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 171, 183]
We also plan on using a complete arsenal of direct response mechanisms including direct fax, direct mail, and card decks. The direct fax program will be to spike sales when necessary (to generate leads for inside sales) and to test copy prior to direct mail. Direct mail generates a visible return while also generating a substantial halo effect. Typically a direct mail campaign will pull a 1-3% response rate which means that 97-99% of the people who receive it either don’t respond, respond later during another campaign, or purchase through a reseller. There is one direct mail campaign planned each quarter. [20, 135, 138, 143, 154, 211]
Card decks are another form of direct mail that has proven quite successful at Acme Software-especially those that are aimed at the VAR channel. There is one card deck campaign planned each month. [3, 10, 36, 37, 76, 103, 128, 148, 165, 181, 200, 208]
Event Marketing (Trade Shows & Seminars)
For Event Marketing, the company is planning on attending several trades shows this year. Among them are the ACE specific shows, Softeach and Comdex. We treat all events as selling shows where we attempt to get a break-even or better return for our expense. Trade shows also provide excellent opportunities to meet face-to-face with end-users, resellers, the press and get invaluable feedback by being able to test market messages, box, and collateral designs, and evaluate the competition. The complete trade show and seminar schedule with deliverables are contained in the Gantt chart. [4, 9, 14, 15, 70, 147, 170, 174, 191, 198, 204, 213]
Within Acme Software we are dividing Business Development into three areas:
- Product Management handles technology alliances where we ensure that Acme is compatible with other applications and vice versa.
- Sales ensure that Acme is properly seeded in as many ways as possible such as OEM deals with laptops, the engine for databases, etc.
- And Marketing is responsible for Business Alliances.
Marketing should work with other non-competing companies and share information, leads, trade show space, advertising, bundles, etc. It is by networking with other companies that we create a root system that continues to hold up the Acme tree and allows us to create the mind share necessary to be identified within the mainstream market.
Additional Resources with the Marketing Communications (MarCom) section of the website.