Promotions and Planning

A task force has been put together to help make lives easier.

Here is what we did.

If you are working in promotion planning within your company, you likely have a lot of on your plate, especially if your company has  multiple business units/products and a complex sales channel.

You likely work with your category leader, who is responsible for sales across numerous channels, stores, and colleagues, all of whom are responsible for the retailers at play like like Safeway or Target.

Now, promotion planning, from a consumer perspective is a thankless job, but it is key. It makes peoples days and drives product sales.

I remember as a kid, the “buy one, get one free” sign in the candy aisle was the equivalent of the golden arches of McDonald’s — it was very exciting. I knew I didn’t have to share my candy with brother, who, like the little bumpkin he is, likes to save and horde away his candy bar, while I eat mine in a few healthy, red-blooded American bites.

I wouldn’t have understood then, but if I knew what it took to make “buy one, get on free” and had the mental bandwidth to realize just how much work goes into something that seemed so simple, I would have had a greater appreciation, at the time, and who knows, I may be working on Madison Avenue as we speak.

I suppose that is why people get into various spheres of business, don’t they? Often, you see something as a kid and love it, and then you grow up and want to know how it works. Then you start to study it and eventually get a job.

For those of us blessed to do the jobs we love, that is often the case.

First and foremost, the point of a ‘buy one, get one free’ is to increase sales, and if your job is to increase sales then you are likely responsible for the following: increase or meet sales & revenue goals for your company while ensuring that Safeway (for example) makes enough revenue through margin by providing your products with the best shelf space so that it retains the proper visibility for the right demographics. This is a science as you well know. Where is the best place to put that bag of candy in a large store like Safeway?

At the end of the day, it is all a promotion, and for anything so specific, it is also a science.

As we know, working with companies, big and small to ultimately help digitize their promotion planning, and parts of their supply chain means a lot of collaboration.

You are likely working closely with your Sales Manager to ensure you are aligned on products, pricing, and margins that your customer and your company will make with their partnership.

In an increasingly large and connected world, that is fueled by digital systems, it seems like it would be prudent for us to look around for solutions to eliminate pain points and improve results that will inevitably come from working on numerous promotions with many people on different products across various regions.

Where does a particular promotion function yield the best ROI?

Where does a particular promotion function yield the best ROI and value for all concerned?

As I grew older, I was always fascinated by advertisements, promotions and so forth. Whether on tv or on the back of The New Yorker magazine.

When I turned 21, of course, we were in college, so we’d walk along the beer aisles looking for the best deals. Most of the time we’d be in a hurry and grab what was best, but as we were checking out, I’d think about the why? I’d think about the team that made this happen. A curiosity in me that manifests itself to this day, and specifically during the Superbowl, where we play a game during the advertisements. Before an ad plays, you guess if the ad will make you inclined to buy the product, and if your guess is the majority consensus, you sit back and watch everyone else drink and vice versa.

In hindsight the placement, during specific seasons was critical. During the summer, placing ice-cold Coronas to get the attention of the customer seemed to be a win-win.

Maybe it was MadMen, but at some point, as a computer scientist and journalist by trade, I fell in love with the process of selling. There was an art to it.

One needed to create real touchpoints in a personal world, and then bring them into their world. Take the recent Corona ad’s for example. It uses the simple premise of two people in love, lounging and relaxing. That is the real-world touchpoint. Then Corona introduces their world, where anything is a beach. “Find your beach”.

BMW does something similar. It shows a man, as cool as Steve McQueen and as clean-cut as 007, swirling through the snow. “BMW, The Ultimate Driving Machine”. The real-world touchpoints are in the case of fantasy. A fantasy to be a getaway driver, or simply the coolest dad on the block.

“Built to take your breath away” — BMW

At Boardwalktech we’ve put together a special task force together and it just so happens we spent quite a lot of time understanding the nuances that promotion planning and forecasting face on a day to day basis, and we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can make the day to day process better.

Leaning on experience from understanding the challenges in this space from other clients, we’re excited to see how we can bring value to work together for the greater good of any entity, big or small.

In order to translate company goals, current strategy and get into agreement for promotion planning, there is a lot of work to be done to manage this process. Maintaining a list of promotion types, pricing strategies, margin strategies and negotiating with all parties can be a daunting task — especially when you are running weekly promotions across a multitude of customers and products.

Who has the current pricing list? What are the agreed promotion margin targets? Has the customer agreed to these terms. What are the volumes anticipated? Are our productions schedules up to date? Are we cannibalizing other products or promotions? How is all of this information being translated and managed?

Answering these questions leads to emails back and forth, many of which are potentially redundant, all the while having to then manually merge data from various systems and connect various Excel workbooks to determine the impact of the promotion.

Managing all of this in a manual way and collecting and collaborating on the data takes a lot of time, and before you know it, more effort was spent on data management than on analytics and impact evaluation! If we can limit unmitigated manual entry and chasing ever-changing data then we will limit manual error, and ultimately do a better job by coming to a decision faster with better data.

Is there a better method of doing this?

Yes, in fact, at Boardwalktech, we offer 18 different planning functions across 10 different application areas with a real focus on promotion planning and supply chain.

From my point of view, finding ways to automate the information gathering and exchange is exciting and when everyone is on the same page, the results can be astonishing.

You see, with the Promotion Planner, within the Boardwalk Planning suite, you can untangle the manual processes I described above and can then start digitally collaborating, managing and standardizing regular operations while assembling new solutions, and developing unique and creative promotion scenarios each week, month, or as needed.

If we can make your work easier and help you and your team deliver great results, we will be a happy bunch. Think of what it means to work together, the functionality, allowing everyone to seamlessly communicate intentions and lines of thinking between colleagues while finally having the ability to evaluate the good, the bad, and the ugly so you can improve your process and make better decisions, faster!

Our task force came up with a handy infographic for the day in the life of a promotion planner — click here to download a printable version, or save the image below for your convenience.

A handy infographic for the day in the life of a promotion planner. Feel free to save/print!

If you have any questions at all, feel free to ping us at Our communication lines are wide open, and not even social distancing will prevent that.


Roh Krishnan & Boardwalktech Promotion Planning and Supply Chain Task Force

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