Integrating Media with a Sales Promotion

Here’s an example of how a promotion or special event can be used to gain names for email or direct mail follow-up. Although we will look at how a service station (gas station, filling station) structured its promotion, this could be any type of special event or competition where the public comes into direct contact with your business and its staff.

The essential element is that their name and address details be recorded for  follow-up. Just use the concepts in this example as guidelines and see how they can be adapted to your own type of business.

Apart from customers who have accounts with the service station for petrol purchases (usually companies with a number of vehicles), the owner will have little idea of who else visits the driveway. Though gaining names is the main priority, other benefits come to light as we structure and implement the promotion.  But … let’s start at the beginning for now!

The Structure

    • This is a driveway competition where motorists have a participation card (entry form) stamped each time they visit the service station driveway for fuel.  Once the card is full – there are six blank spots for stamps – the participant has to fill in his name and address, answer an easy question, and deposit the entry form in a specially designed box on the driveway.  Or, the entry form can be mailed to the service station.
    • Participants may enter as many times as they like.  New entry forms are available on the driveway.

Why base the promotion on 6 visits?  Because that’s the number of visits it needs to begin the formation of a habit.  Therein lies a further benefit of the promotion:  new customers drawn by the chance of winning prizes can experience for themselves how convenient the service station is, along with its easy access and friendly service.  If things go well, we should retain some of our new business. That, in turn, also means that the driveway attendants have to “spark” during the promotion period to deliver good service, something which might become a habit-forming attitude as well!

To enhance the standard of service, the driveway attendants are offered an incentive based on the number of completed entry forms they handle.  Each time a customer visits the driveway, they place a stamp in one of the blocks on the entry card, and sign or initial it.

There is a main prize – a valuable one – to be won at the conclusion of the promotion, and a host of smaller weekly prizes.  Local businesses are approached to sponsor the weekly prizes, which range from gift vouchers, meat hampers, hardware supplies, to hair styling and beauty treatments.  The idea is to provide a spread of prizes that will appeal to men and women.  Oh yes … let’s include computer games for the kids as well (They put pressure on their parents to participate!).  In return for their sponsorship, the local merchants receive prominent acknowledgement and a brief advertising statement on the entry form.

Promoting the competition

    • Although the entry form will be handed out on the driveway, this won’t draw new customers, so broader advertising is needed.  Let’s opt for a one- or two-colour leaflet that allows enough space for explaining the competition and illustration of prizes. Make it small enough to fit in a car’s glovebox.
  • The leaflet is to be used as an insert in local newspapers as well as a handout on the driveway.


  • The week before the commencement of the competition, a teaser advert is placed in newspapers.


  • Insertion of the entry form in newspapers is for three consecutive weeks; after that, it will really be too late for anyone to enter.


  • Posters promoting the event are displayed on the service station’s driveway.


  • Smaller versions of the posters are displayed with sponsors of the prizes.


  • The weekly prizes are announced on the driveway each Saturday morning, with an advert announcing the winners appearing in the newspapers the following week.  Unnecessary expense?  On the face of it, yes, but it keeps awareness high and creates an impression of dynamic activity.


The main prize is also done by public draw, but becomes more of a special event.  A press release is prepared and given to journalists.  Timing for release is the week of the final draw and the press are invited to attend the event.  There will be free refreshments and sweet packages for the kids, clowns, trapeze artists  – you name it!

The qualifying questions relate to the brand of fuel and the slogan of the petrol company whose franchise the service station represents.  Why?  So that the petrol supply company can be “coerced” into contributing towards printing costs.  (They’re getting exposure, aren’t they?).

The following week, articles on the prize-giving event – complete with photographs – appear in the newspapers.

Okay, now for those “other” benefits mentioned earlier.  All we wanted were names, right?  What we can get out of the promotion is this:

  • A broad list of names that can now be tested for their inclination to buy the service station’s other products and services.  These will be promoted by direct mail or email.
  • The means to implement a direct mail customer retention programme.  This starts immediately with a postcard thanking them for their participation and announcing the winners.
  • During the promotion, the additional profit earned from increased petrol sales more than covers the remaining cost of structuring the promotion.
  • After the promotion, petrol sales should remain higher, meaning that additional, new custom had been retained.  This is a result of the “habit formation”, and provides long-term profit benefits.
  • The details gleaned from the entry forms are used to plot the service station’s custom on a large scale map.  This enables us to pinpoint suburbs where support is minimal.  The reaction?  A direct mail package aimed at those areas alone.


Well, isn’t that enough?  Those are just the measurable benefits … what about the valuable public exposure gained during the six week period?  And, the next time we run such a promotion we’ll first mail to our customer list a pre-print of the leaflet/entry form – and give them an extra week in which to take part.  That’s how you make your customers feel special!

There’s one other thing we gained: Experience in structuring a campaign and enjoying its results.  In this promotion we used sales promotion, leaflets, posters, newspaper distribution, special events, advertising, publicity – and direct mail. A simple, practical way of integrating media for greater effectiveness.

We shouldn’t be doing things any other way!


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