Why promo campaigns shouldn’t be too complicated


During the warmer months, I occasionally stop by the big grocery store in my neighborhood to pick up a few things that are overpriced (or out of stock) at my usual online grocer. This is typically an uneventful experience, but the checkout process has seemed rather cumbersome lately.

What changed? The store has instructed the cashiers to give every customer a spiel about some sort of board game-style promotion they’re running. In the half-dozen or so interactions I’ve observed, the customer has no idea what the promotion is and has little interest in learning more about how it works. They just want to complete their purchase and get on with their day.

Heck, I’ve seen numerous flyers about the same board game promo, and I still couldn’t give you a concise explanation of how it works. I think you have to collect game pieces with each purchase and paste them onto a board. Regardless, it’s just too complicated to bother with.

This underscores the problem with complicated promo campaigns. If a typical customer can’t fully grasp how the promo works in a few seconds, they probably won’t be motivated to participate. And if few customers participate, the campaign is only reaching a small audience, which means a smaller sales lift overall. So the next time you’re designing a promo campaign, try to keep it as simple as possible. Otherwise, you may be dooming it to failure by injecting too much complexity from the start.

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