Turn This Year’s Losers into Next Year’s Winners


For most of us, Q4 is the time to take a look back at the year and plan for 2017. While we hope that ALL of your 2016 campaigns were a success, you likely had a few misses. So, before you start from scratch, use this quick guide to evaluate any losing promotions to see if they can be recalibrated to be your winners next year.


  1. Review the Goals

Promotions are effective for achieving a variety of objectives, yet rarely can one promotion achieve many objectives. So take a look at your goals to see if there were too many, then consider focusing your promotion to a single goal, for example:

  • Acquire new customers
  • Change buying behaviors
  • Build long-term loyalty
  • Draw customers from competitors
  • Stimulate business during slow periods
  1. Consider the Incentives

Another explanation for a lackluster promotion could be the choice of incentives.

The most effective incentives are compelling to customers and affordable for your operation. Discounting 10 to 20 percent might not be enough to inspire customers, yet deep discounts (unless they promote a loss leader) can cut into your bottom line. Consider incentives that avoid discounting and create brand or product recognition, like these:

  • Samples or trial offers
  • Low-cost gift cards
  • Events or experiences
  1. Analyze your Strategy

Disappointing results may originate with the promotion’s overall strategy, laid out before the promotion. Here are two metrics you can use to build strategy and improve your promotions’ chances for success.

  • Internal-External Analysis, also known as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, explores internal and external factors that your promotion will face or need to overcome.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as Average Margin, Conversion Rates or Inventory levels, before the promotion. Then, tracking that KPI will reveal how your promotion is performing.


  1. Account for the Uncontrollable

When you plan a promotion in advance, there is no way of knowing what else will happen that week. The promotion may have started days after a primary competitor had a similar sale or made a major announcement. Or your operation (or a vital vendor) had technical or staffing issues. From stock market downturns to traffic problems in your town, take a look at the local and national events that coincided with the promotion’s timing.

  1. Do a Post-mortem

Finally, create an after-the-fact analysis of the promotion. Looking at all of the vital elements in black and white can help reveal why your promotion didn’t perform, expose new opportunities and determine if it’s worthwhile to repeat, tweak or trash.

Obviously, 2016’s effective promotions were important for your growth. Yet the year’s lackluster promotions offer your company the opportunity to learn from missteps and create campaigns that are stronger, and more effective for the New Year

For more promotions and incentives strategies, visit Incentives.Restaurant.com.