Taking Inspiration From Politics for Promotions

How to Move Away From Transactional and Embrace Transformational Thinking

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Craig Daitch Craig Daitch also writes the blog Thought Industry.
I've become much more cognizant of marketing promotions lately and I've found myself more than once asking, "That's an interesting tactic, but where's the strategy?" (I assure you, I'm not immune to this challenge.)


Because to borrow an idea from presidential historian James MacGregor Burns (along with a favorite book of mine), it is simply easier to think short term and transactional vs. long term and transformational. The differences between the two are profound. Where a transactional idea may produce efficacy, a transformational idea delivers affinity and, ultimately, advocacy.

When used in the context of promotions, transactional ideas simply ask for an exchange of one thing for another. It may be a chance to win a free iPod for an e-mail address or a mobile number for a free ringtone. A simple "We can give away a car for consumer information" may have worked five years ago but in today's world of over-sensitization, even luxury items are difficult to give away without context.

And that is the main pain point in transactional promotions: the misconception that the carrots marketers use as bait need to outgrow the previous ones.

Conversely, transformational promotional ideas are the entry point for offering the solutions to your audience's problems. Let's use the travel industry as an example. Say I am desperately looking to fly from New York to Detroit on business and need a flight, hotel and rental car quickly. I may find a promotional coupon online to use when booking my trip, along with relevant, contextual information on my destination. Upon confirmation of my itinerary, I could receive additional discounts on dining, as well as helpful links to travel-related online communities such as Yelp and Dopplr, etc. The tactics I use have supported a larger strategy of creating a relationship between my customer and my brand.

Look, it's difficult to convince clients as well as your own colleagues that by taking the long-term approach to cultivating your audience you could end up saving capital as well as creating an entirely new layer of insights that can be used to optimize future efforts across all facets of your agency's business.

But that, my friends, is transformational.
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