American Marketer


Use it or lose it: How to tap end-of-year budget

October 14, 2014

Tia Sollecito is vice president and group account director at HelloWorld Tia Sollecito is vice president and group account director at HelloWorld


By Tia Sollecito

If you find yourself having budget left as we approach the end of the year, congratulations. That feeling can be akin to striking gold.

Now the challenge is to use it so you do not lose it for next year. This scenario screams test and learn, so here are a few tactics to consider.

Mobilizing your strategy
Got an application or launching one soon? Downloads and usage are surely at the top of your objectives.

A promotion, such as a mystery offer or chance to win, can easily be implemented in an app via a software development kit. This way, customers are motivated to download your app, while being driven to make a purchase from your brand.

Contemplating how to incorporate SMS/MMS into your campaign? Here are three ideas:

1) Try a mobile offer. Even if you are a CPG or brand reliant on a channel partner, these can be executed with those retailers who accept mobile coupons, such as a Kroger or a Macy's. To get the maximum impact and learning, a strong well-placed call to action is required.

2) Take a cue from Starbucks – short-term campaigns mixed with fun. Its summer campaign included daily text reminders that $2 Frappuccinos were just an hour away.

Later, fans were encouraged to share their #frappuccinoface via Instagram and Twitter. Photos were used to create a GIF that Starbucks shared via Tumblr and MMS. The SMS campaign, coupled with the social component, helped drive customers in-store while building engagement.

3) Bring your rebate into the digital age. Enable customers to start the process of redeeming a rebate by texting in a picture of their receipt. They can then finish the process via a mobile-optimized site, allowing them to receive their reward much quicker, and therefore remain more engaged along their journey.

Spice up your social skills
Want to shake up things in social? Consider combining forces of your existing social presence to maximize the impact of a campaign, especially if it includes a foray into a new platform.

The Frappuccino program mentioned above is a stellar example of this. Another example: McDonald's teased its Snapchat story with a new announcement to Twitter.

Newcastle tapped into its extensive Facebook and YouTube fans to increase its Twitter followers with a clever campaign that promised $1 to the next 50,000 followers of @newcastle.

Using one of your brand’s social platforms to boost another is a great way to keep your customer excited about your campaign, engaged with your content and seeing new sides of your brand personality.

Reigniting loyalty
Have a loyalty program? A promotion overlay can drive acquisition and bring lapsed members back into the fold.

Consider using your data to drive a surprise-and-delight campaign targeted at your highest-value members. Test out bonus code offers and email messaging. Use this data to optimize and further refine what you do next with the program.

WHEELS TURNING? Excellent. As you use your remaining 2014 budget to test programs and try new things, do not forget the measurement piece.

How did these tactics hold up against other initiatives? If you cannot compare these new initiatives apples-to-apples, use them as benchmarks as you move forward, being sure to note lessons learned and best practices for future campaigns.

Tia Sollecito is vice president and group account director at HelloWorld, Detroit. Reach her at