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The Secret Stash: A Different Kind of Marketing Promotion

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by: Darryl Bolduc (@darrylbolduc)
16 September 2014

When you need a boost in sales, what’s your “go-to” promotion? Many marketers rely on flagship programs, such as a monthly newsletter, daily deals or a standard cart abandonment program, to drive revenue. Others opt for tried-and-true one-off promotions — limited-time online exclusives, or giant sales where everything is half off.

Essential as they are, these programs stay within an established box of expectations. If you want to surprise and delight your customers, you’ll need to do more. How about an infusion of creativity? What if you could create buzz, demand and anticipation, all in one word: secret.

This word alone could be the beginning of a new program, help bridge the gap between channels, and connect your customers in a way that redefines “go-to” for your company. Here are a few examples of ways you can make the “secret” concept work for you.

1) Secret Inventory for Retailers

I love when I’m surprised by a brand. The most unusual, hard-to-find products often provide a better front door than some of the grandest storefronts. Today’s secret product could be an “employee favorite” that you haven’t promoted much, or a product that’s underperformed – say, last month’s pickle-themed T-shirt series.

In the case of the latter, pickles could be tweeted out, featured in the “daily deal” email, and “hidden” in physical store locations for customers to find. Think about how impactful this could be for a multichannel retailer, easily moving those pickle T-shirts to the top of the sales chart.

2) Secret Menu for Food Services

Every good restaurant seeks to impress its guests. But how can you make a “wow” impression on patrons? Daily specials are great, but when they’re simply written on the chalkboard, anyone within viewing distance can have them.

Many restaurants already have a “secret menu” for in-the-know customers. So why not leverage this concept in your campaigns? For example, you could remind email subscribers to get secret insider recommendations by viewing this week’s social posts, where the chef writes about his new potatoes, the freshest catch from the fish market and why the combo makes for an awesome pairing with the newly casked beer.

Not only could this help make this beer-foodie fishery pairing your hottest item, but you’d also make your customers feel like they personally know the chef.

Consumer and packaged service groups can also apply this strategy by making purchasing clients feel special through secret insider recommendations on their product lines.

3) Secret Information for Media & B2B Service Groups

In the business world, it’s valuable to have lesser-known facts and information that can be helpful in everyday conversations. NPR has been doing this for as long as radio’s been around. How many times have you heard someone say, “I heard it on NPR”?

Keeping some of this behind the curtain in the form of “getting exclusive updates to your inbox” or “following us on Twitter for exclusive info” will make your readers that much more appreciative of the obscure facts they know — and that their coworkers might not. Special content and shareable messages they connect with the same secret area of a website or magazine can provide a break from the everyday doldrums.  

What’s Your Secret?

As consumers, when we can’t have something it’s always more attractive. Conversely, if we already know something, it’s less interesting when the next person mentions it.

Put another way, “secrets” we might have access to in limited amounts or within a small time window provide a compelling reason to fork over email addresses, share mobile numbers and approve push notifications.

So next time you’re brainstorming an upcoming promotion, consider something different than the usual “exclusive,” “limited time,” or “just for you.” Unleash the “secret stash” and see what response you get from your contacts.

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “5 Tips for ‘White Space’ Emails That Educate, Entertain and Engage

2) Blog: “Simple Flat UI: Using Design Simplicity to Make Your Emails Stand Out

3) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue




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