Last week, we discussed how the 4th P – Promotions – plays into the Marketing Mix and the marketing campaign. Today, we look at what you need to know before you can start planning your promotions.

First, you need to know your Target Customer – everything you can possibly find out. Where do they live? Work? Go to school? How old are they? What do they eat? What do they do on the weekends? Where do they hang out – both in the real world and online? What do they talk about? Where do they shop? What do they buy? What do they read? Watch on TV? What are their fears? Their desires? Their hopes? What’s the hot topic they’re talking about right now?

Second, you need to know the purpose of your message. What are you trying to accomplish? What do you want the prospect to know when they’re done reading/watching/hearing your promotional piece? What do you want them to do?

Next, decide what media you’ll be using to deliver your message. This is your communications tool. Selecting the media should be a decision based on knowing your Target Customer and how you can communicate with them. You want to be able to hit as many of your Target Customers’ eyeballs or ears as you possibly can, otherwise, it’s not worth it. If your Target Customer is a 16-year-old girl who reads, don’t advertise in GQ, no matter how cheap you can get the ad. (Unless, of course, there’s any chance you can get Dad or Uncle Bill to buy the book for her, but then your Target Customer is really Dad or Uncle Bill, not the girl, because they’re buying it…but that’s, well, going off on a tangent for the purpose of this post.)

So, what is the most effective way to reach your Target Customer? Online? Radio? Podcast? Television? Magazines? Newspapers? Other books? Billboards? Someone’s boobs or butt? (Just making sure you’re paying attention, although…yes, these have been used for advertising and might be a possibility…)

Once you have know all of these things, you have direction for your promotional piece. You put these together to create your marketing message, whether it’s a video, a Podcast, a banner ad on a website or a newspaper ad (or a temporary tattoo, if you decide you really like that idea and it will be effective for your audience). Here’s an example:

Your Target Customer is a 17-year-old female who spends most of her time reading, loves vampires, hangs out on the fanfic forums, rarely goes to movies, doesn’t read magazines and, when not reading or doing homework, she spends her time on Facebook and Twitter. The purpose for this promotional piece is to get her excited about your new vampire release so she’ll pre-order the book. You’ve decided to create an ad that can go up on the fanfic forums and Facebook.

Now you have a general idea of what your ad will be about (vampires, new book, pre-order) and who will be looking at it. So you can create your promotional piece with matching graphics and text. But how do you make it stand out? How do you get her to pre-order your book? We’ll talk about that later…

Questions? Thoughts?