by Andre Bourque

Technology and promotions: the digital face of marketing

Mar 31, 2017

Technology is now critical to -- and inseparable from -- a smart marketing strategy.

Man holding tablet with marketing automation
Credit: Thinkstock

Technology is at the forefront of marketing and promotions, now more than ever.

I can attest to that assertion, thanks to my conversation with Charlie Gaffney, president and CEO of Index Promotions, a global, full-service product promotions and marketing agency based in Los Angeles. His agency works with some of the world’s biggest brands, including Burger King, MetLife, Macy’s and Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), to name a few.

He says that for product promotions — such as tangible, branded items like cups, toys and giveaway items — technology is an integral component to expanding promotional marketing strategies. 

That overview explains my more confident sense of the practical and effective means of how businesses can accomplish the above goal.

Mr. Gaffney says: 

“We use technology to add an interactive and enhancing element to our product-based promotions. We aim to bring our clients’ brands into the hands of their consumers. By incorporating a digital component to our campaigns, we help to keep these customers engaged through a variety of touch points and activations. This strategy enables our clients to stay more relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape.”

The emphasis on engagement is an important factor because, according to Mr. Gaffney, the way companies use technology should start with how they understand market trends relative to their respective industries and also to their target markets. “We translate these digital innovations into executable promotions that are both cost-effective and accessible for the everyday consumer,” he says.

In this case, a typical promotion would involve a physical premium as well as a digital component. Take, for instance, a premium (with an associated code) within a package, which grants access to a digital experience through the purchase or receipt of a physical product. This digital component may include gamification with the chance to prizes, or sweepstakes to win a one-of-a-kind trip.

This concept unifies the premium and the digital experience. 

Mr. Gaffney cites his firm’s “Duckchat” app for Aflac as evidence of the role technology can play in strengthening promotions. Launched during the 2016 holiday season, the app provided custom emojis and GIFs of the Aflac duck, the company’s mascot. Consumers could also have their own Aflac duck keyboard for texting and emailing. 

Available to consumers with the purchase of an Aflac Holiday Plush Duck at Macy’s, which Index Promotions also designed and manufactured for Aflac, the effort represents an ideal union between an in-store experience and a digital complement of the same.

Technology is now critical to — and inseparable from — a smart marketing strategy. Mr. Gaffney’s insights reflect not only his intelligence about this subject, but also the intelligence at his disposal about various consumer needs and desires. His analysis confirms the wisdom of customizing technology, to yield practical applications or create experiences that shoppers will enjoy.

These digital elements also drive increased engagement, which leads to long-term, loyal customers, a goal of most all brands, big and small. The subsequent word-of-mouth marketing has its own digital dividends, so to speak, as people promote specific campaigns on social media. 

These advantages are measurable, providing additional proof of how technology is an integral part of what companies use to reach — and influence — consumers offline and online. Promotions of this kind define more of a brand’s identity than a conventional TV commercial or print advertisement. 

Promotions will be — they already are — interactive, dynamic and fun. Consumers recognize this fact, and they expect companies to realize this truth. If a brand or company hasn’t considered the marriage of these two components already, they need to. 

Customers want a higher-level of experience with the companies they choose to follow. To all companies who execute product promotions already: Heed Mr. Gaffney’s advice and hop on this technological bandwagon before your brand suffers the long-term consequences.