8 Deadly Promotion Pitfalls, Part 1.

larry2.jpegI’m composing this at my home-away-from-home in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, where I’ve come to see Superbowl XLII. Consumers are fickle, and what makes promotions effective can be mystifying. So instead of trying to come up with a recipe for how to market well, I’ve taken my 20 years of trying and boiled down the best tips to these 8 Deadly Promotion Pitfalls. (I started with 8 tips, and came up with 16, so Pitfalls Part II will be published in a few weeks.)

Pitfall 1 : throwing the marketing hail mary. If only 30-million-people-would-see-it is a cautionary tale of how not to launch from silicon valley. Be a Tom Brady and throw for 1 to 11 yards at a time, these yield 5-25 after the catch-and-carry.


Pitfall 2
: using what worked in 1999 (and other so called silver bullet case studies/urban myths). Offering $5 for each referral won’t work. In 1999, Paypal bled out over $15 million $10 at a time. Lead generation guys were happy, but what was OK in ’00 won’t fly in ’08. Stop looking for a silver bullet and follow some of the below fundamentals of promotion.


Pitfall 3
: “Umm, no”. We are handing out leaflets at an event. We are building it and they’ll just come. We are putting full color flyers on cars at August Capital’s TechCrunch party. Lets consult the crystal ball: ‘No, no, no, no! Not gonna work.’


Pitfall 4
: Using hot women to promote. This isn’t a pitfall, it works on
many different levels (pun intended).


Pitfall 5
: hiring out and not using a founder to promote. The power of 300. Generals know that a thousand mercenaries are worth 300 committed warriors. In the networked age it’s even more so. I can place a person on a campus and within a year have more sign ups
than a $300,000 campus media campaign at a Barrons-ranked tier 1-5
school. But you have to have a c.a.t. What’s CAT….

Pitfall 6
: Not having a Consumer Advocacy Truth. We picked “interest is for suckers”. And we handed out lollipops to bring the point home. Your truth rises above your silly company (and product!).

Pitfall 7: Praying over promoting. A VC buddie of mine just “sprays and
prays” with his portfolio. We laugh about it privately, but entrepreneurs make similar mistakes when they “dabble promote” vs. systematically marching toward promotion goals.

Do the market-march effectively by…
* Set a promo goal
* Execute plan
* Measure success by tracking
* Reset and tweak goal/plan
Save the praying for Menlo Park Presbyterian


Pitfall 8
: Not having the SSP, or Second stage premium is the premium you give away after the first premium. (Duck9 coincides it with consumer 2nd stage registration.) Ideally, the SSP meshes with the CAT. For example, we give out suckers (or lollipop for my readers in the Orient) for walk-bys in the Green ZONE. Pizza slices to those that submit their cell phone. You get a t-shirt when you re-register online and/or do a pbWiki page. You get a fleece if you achieve a FICO Of 750. The chachkis coincide with the CAT. We at duck9 are gonna trick you into doing something good for yourself.

CONCLUSION; Remember, these pitfalls (and their solutions) took over 20 years to learn. Don’t get demoralized if you can only implement just one. This is tough stuff and we get paid the big bucks NOT to manage, but to promote! Hey, if you get bogged down or log jammed, call me during my office hours.

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