It almost goes without saying that every business needs to promote itself and its products and services. The word “promote” literally means to advance or move forward and it’s no wonder that “Promote” is the fourth “P” in the marketing mix. Unfortunately, many marketing specialists equate promotion with the whole of marketing by substituting the word “promote” with “market” when describing their services.
For example, one social media specialist advertises as follows: “35 Ways to Market Your Business.” Here’s another from Forbes: “7 Cost-Effective Ways to Market Your Business Online.” Over the years, “promote” and “market” have almost become synonymous. However, as pointed out in Marketing Foundations, marketing is much more than promotion alone.
Promotion is the most visible marketing activity and the range of options to promote your business, products and services has grown exponentially with technology. With an almost unlimited number of creative ways to promote, it becomes even more important to place them into categories.
The traditional “Promotional Mix” elements consist of five categories: Advertising, Public Relations, Sales Promotion, Direct Marketing and Personal Selling. For now, I’m going to provide a brief definition of each. I will go into greater depth with each one in future writings and talk about ways to create synergistic results by combining elements of each.
Advertising is a form of marketing communication directed towards a consuming audience produced with the intent of raising awareness or attention towards a product, service or cause for a business or organization. Without going into detail now, please notice I didn’t use the word “positive” in the definition. Advertising can be negative as well as positive. For example, negative advertising is often used to get people to change their behavior such as to quit smoking or to lose weight.
Make no mistake about it, Public Relations is a form of marketing communication. It is subtle and intends to enhance the public’s favor towards a company or organization. Public relations may take the form of new product announcement, the acquisition of another company, the announcement of an employee’s promotion or charitable work that the company is doing in the community. Public relations communication tends to promote a company’s goodwill.
You know a sales promotion when you see it because it’s usually expressed in numbers. For example, “Buy 2 and get 1 Free” or “Buy now and receive a 30% discount.” Sales promotions are incentives and discounts marketers use to achieve near-term or immediate results such as a sale to boost revenue performance at the end of a quarter or year. Sales Promotions are also used to move inventory, or at a more sophisticated level, used to manage demand itself.
Direct Marketing is just that – direct. It is marketing communication from a business or organization directly to a past, present or (hopefully) future customer or constituent. The communication tends to be personal, and in most cases, the goal is for the recipient to respond directly to an offer presented.
Personal Selling is people. It’s your sales force whether it’s a force of one or many. Personal selling is the most engaged and interactive form of marketing communication. Sales is a function of marketing and salespeople execute the marketing plan by informing, advising, offering, accepting and completing transactions. Well-trained salespeople are versed in both verbal and non-verbal communication.
So, there you have it - the elements of Promotional Mix. It's valuable to know and understand each channel and to leverage the unique benefits of each to achieve maximum results.