Forty Eight Point One

Promotions are Stupid

Articles Promotions are Stupid

Promotions generate loyalty. To promotions.

Here’s a quick bit of maths (school started early today): There are 52-odd Tuesdays in a calendar year and 1 of each of the following:
– Mother’s Day
– Father’s Day
– Valentine’s Day
– St. Patrick’s Day
– National Pie Day / Ford Mustang Day / Haiku Poetry Day

Now, would you rather your team focused on those 52-odd Tuesdays, their process compounding in value as they repeat the necessary tasks to prepare, execute and amplify content, or ask them to jump between once-annual, often-niche celebrations?

To caveat: No, these options are not mutually exclusive and your teams can work on both the occasional and the regular. Yes, your average consumer is trained to react to a singular event with far more urgency than a repeated, weekly day without any specific fanfare, so your teams will have an easier time preparing content that engages your audience.

But just because you can drive a car and talk on the phone doesn’t mean you should; attention is finite.

It’s easy to understand how people fall at the altar of Insta or the font of Facebook.

An adjustment in resource in one bearing necessarily forces a corresponding adjustment elsewhere.

The enemy of attention is distraction. We all undertake daily tasks that draw from our pool of attention. Some of this is unavoidable – we need to masquerade as generalists to some degree – but all too often, efficiency is drained by burning, white-hot distractions.

The today. The now. The what-if-we-don’t?

Attention, evidently, should orientate towards activities that support the broader business goals and long-term success, rather than the shiny and new.

Social media is a distraction (call me a savant already).

With all its likes and shares and comments and retweets, each one a hit of dopamine and a haymaker of interruption, it’s easy to understand how people fall at the altar of Insta or the font of Facebook.

So, when hundreds of posts twirl effortlessly in front of your eyes from daylight to dusk, it’s just as easy to appreciate why a marketer, however susceptible they may be, would want to frolic in unison with the digital carnival. Blueberry Muffin day isn’t going to write about itself.

Easy, yes. Valuable and supportive of those business goals and that long-term success? Probably not.

Promotions are not inherently stupid (call me the great deceiver already).

Promotions incite attention, speak to niche audiences, can be segmented and can form part of a longer-form, storytelling (Winter sales in advance of a new collection being released, for example).

And promotions generate loyalty. To promotions. To lower prices and one-offs and to a game played across all your competitors, all vying for attention on the same axis. This is…not good.

Not every promotion is a race to the bottom or a meandering aside from your objectives – not every day can be Blueberry Muffin day – but any attempt to distract your team or your audience from your core message, and any venture into the depths of underselling your product or undermining your brand, bears grave consideration.

Work, words and play. Monthly, never more.