How real-time promotions can drive foot traffic & delight your customers

Editorial Team

5 min read
Red sale sign

Like anyone with a smartphone and a pulse, you’ve noticed the phenomenon. Businesses are marketing to you through multiple platforms (email, social media, texts) and often get the word out about last-minute promotions or deals. Current philosophy dictates that the more you can get-up-close-and-personal with your marketing while making it matter in the moment, the better.

Convenient, easy-to-use Clover Promos has you covered. As for the creative part of crafting great real-time promotions, read on. After you grasp the basic premise, the best ideas will be your own. Even better, the process of developing a voice and finding your real-time rhythm can also be a lot of fun.

Before exploring actionable promo ideas, get to know the platform. Clover Promos makes it possible to execute and manage real-time promotions within moments of conception. It uses contact information customers have provided, and allows you to send special one-time offers via email, text message, Facebook, or Twitter. You can select certain segments of your audience to target with a few clicks.

Clover Promos also tracks redemptions in real-time, so you can assess how those offers are performing. And if you upgrade to Customer Engagement Plus, Clover Promos will additionally let you a) automate a schedule of future promotions and b) access more sophisticated targeting capacities to customize promotions for specific customer segments.

Now that you’re ready to get real-time with your promotions, let’s cover three key creative principles for any business:

Speak to your customers by speaking to the moment.

Real-time promotions are best when they align with an event, occasion, or circumstance that’s relevant to your customer, whether that’s the local weather or a national holiday. If a college town nail salon has a promotion the day before graduation accompanied by a playful reminder that hands and feet won’t be covered by the gown, that’s speaking to the moment. It’s both useful and conversational. There’s a message beyond the pitch, and both have brand value. A customer might not have time for the offer but can still appreciate the sentiment and sense of community and connection therein.

Something timely and trending in pop-culture can also be ripe for playful exploitation. Let’s imagine a bar located next to a multiplex. On the opening night of the new Joker movie, they could do an extra shot promotion for anyone who grew up afraid of clowns. The idea is to be present in the conversation by piggy-backing cleverly onto something apt that’s lighting up the radar.

Brand is character, and every character has a point of view.

Don’t think your business has a point of view (POV)? Well, if you operate a tanning salon, your POV—at a minimum—is that life is better with less pallor. And if your tanning salon is located in, say, Fairbanks, Alaska, your brand is probably going to be different than a tanning salon situated blocks from the beach in San Diego. In other words, brand POV lives at the intersection of product and audience.

If you’re going to be relevant to your customers, you have to speak to their lifestyle and sensibilities. Independent coffee shops, to illustrate, tend to be defined as much (or more) by their clientele as their coffee. Think poetry readings and singer-songwriters versus young professionals typing on their laptops. Communicating in the moment with real-time promotions is very much about first understanding what you have to say and how to say it.

By nature, some brands are more earnest and sentimental. Others are more irreverent and whimsical. There are countless points on the dial. The challenge is tuning into your sweet spot thoughtfully.

Experiment, take risks, listen, learn, and build on what works.

One of the inherent virtues of real-time promotions is that unlike conventional marketing campaigns, you’re not betting a lot of time and money on a single concept that, by design, must have the broadest possible appeal in order to return on that investment. With real-time, you can go niche. You can showcase a fresh side of your business and reach out in unexpected directions. Every single day brings new opportunities—and days that are typically slow will offer the most fertile turf for trying something completely different.

Here are a few proven winners to prime your real-time promotion pump:

  • Ice cream shops can offer customers a free second scoop during a crazy heatwave.
  • Coffee shops can offer a free extra shot when the Daylight Saving Time (DST) switch robs an hour of sleep from everyone.
  • Restaurants can stimulate dinner traffic on a slow night by “toasting” something positive in the news with half-off premium wine bottles.
  • Pizza parlors could offer a midnight-special during the local university’s finals week or tax season. Think free Red Bull with every pie.
  • Nail salons should offer one-day-only promotions during inclement weather or other times sure to be slow. Turn it into an opportunity to convert new customers by offering 30% off on all services to anyone who brings in a friend. (Also a winning idea for spas.)
  • Vape shops should offer promotions around esports events and other gaming-related tie-ins.
  • Bookstores should be all over pop-culture moments—e.g. a flash sale on George R.R. Martin books tied to Games of Thrones final episode.

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