With nearly one century of associated experience, Willis-Knighton Health System’s sales promotion efforts have evolved over the decades, as both the institution and available incentives have evolved, with continued use being warranted to present day. A number of strengths of sales promotion have particularly motivated persistency of use, with these characteristics being described as follows.
Potential to stimulate interest and attention
Sales promotion is well known for its ability to stimulate interest and attention, with this often being cited as its greatest strength. Evoking interest and attention sets the stage for the target audiences of sales promotion efforts to extend their patronage, facilitating the all-important marketing goal of exchange, leading to the capture of market share. Of course, the nature of sales promotion campaigns will dramatically impact the degree of interest and attention generated, making deployment characteristics (e.g., selection of incentives, timing of promotions, methods of presentation) very important [5, 9,10,11, 17, 18].
A logo-bearing ink pen handed out to the patients of a dermatology clinic likely will be appreciated and serve as a useful reminder by those receiving such, but it will not generate the kind of interest and attention that more sophisticated sales promotion incentives can elicit. Consider, however, a discount coupon for laser vision correction services placed in an eye clinic’s advertisement, an online advertisement offering a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to a major sporting event in exchange for attending a sports medicine clinic’s seminar on the latest orthopedic surgery techniques, or a direct mail parcel noting that all who attend a heart institute’s grand opening will receive a logo-bearing fleece blanket. These would constitute more advanced incentives, with the examples also merging associated incentives with other forms of marketing communication to magnify promotional impact. As with most any marketing pursuit, sales promotion efforts require institutions to stipulate desired goals and make selections, accordingly, to achieve those particular desires.
Ability to synergize communications
Sales promotion serves as an excellent complement to other forms of marketing communication. When used in tandem with other methods, synergies are created that extend the communicative impact of given promotions. In the examples presented in the preceding paragraph (i.e., the eye clinic, the sports medicine clinic, the heart institute), inclusion of sales promotion incentives in the given communications (i.e., the advertisements, the direct mail piece) likely will generate much greater attentiveness toward those communications. In some respects, inclusion of a sales promotion incentive can help to paint a bullseye on advertisements, direct mail pieces, and other forms of communication, drawing eyes that would otherwise be disinterested or perhaps too occupied to notice given conveyances. In such cases, incorporating sales promotion incentives into other forms of communication magnifies the value of those particular overtures [16,17,18,19,20,21].
Of course, care must be taken not to overutilize sales promotion as a communicative mechanism, as doing so can diminish the special nature of given promotions, making them common and expected, negatively impacting its primary attribute of generating interest and attention. In some circumstances, such as that of couponing, overuse can stall patronage whenever these promotions are withdrawn, as potential patients will simply wait for given coupons to appear again before pursuing services. That said, sales promotions should be considered as special offers available for a limited time after which they are withdrawn for undefined periods, ensuring that they indeed remain special and retain their compelling effects.
Opportunities for vast customization
Options abound with sales promotion, courtesy of many different forms (e.g., free gifts, coupons, discounts, contests), conveyance partners (e.g., other elements of the marketing communications mix), circulation plans (e.g., timing and length of promotion), and other deployment aspects. Typical applications can be observed across most any market, but healthcare institutions certainly should not feel limited to such. Sales promotion permits extreme latitude, as it essentially entails the assembly of incentives viewed to be attractive and compelling to target audiences. The possibilities for such are endless, limited only by the creative imagination and, of course, budgetary constraints [5, 9,10,11, 14, 17,18,19,20,21].
Additional expenditures normally will be required to realize highly creative applications, but greater returns on those particular investments should be expected, as Willis-Knighton Health System experienced with its Willis the Bear mascot. The greater the differentiation from typical applications, the more likely interest and attention will be bolstered, permitting given sales promotion efforts to excel. It certainly is worth experimenting with things that defy the sales promotion norms of given marketplaces. With the component being somewhat boundless, imaginative perspectives are welcomed and just might lead to something truly novel, boosting marketing communications.