Promotional Mix

Promotion in the context of the Four P’s of Marketing, is referring to the promotional mix of marketing, which is marketing communication. The promotional mix of marketing includes five elements: advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, publicity and public relations. Two of the five elements, advertising and publicity are forms of mass selling.Mass selling is communication with large numbers of people at the same time. Promotion is communication between a seller and a potential buyer to influence attitudes and behaviour. Marketers try to persuade potential buyers of the other three other elements in the marketing mix: product, place and price.

Effective Promotional Mix Strategies

As always in all of the four Ps of the marketing mix, you first need to consider your target market, the strengths and weaknesses of your firm and its offering to the market, and your competitors. There should be a good fit between your organization and your target market. In order to compete in the long term, you will also need to consider your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.

Push, Pull and Integrated

Manufacturers of products use three types of strategies: push, pull and integrated. A push strategy is focused on the retailers and wholesalers. Manufacturers will use promotional tools such as advertising and sales promotion to try to convince retails and wholesalers to purchase their products for resale. The idea is to push the product down the distribution system to where consumers buy. In a pull strategy, manufacturers focus on customers (the end users and purchasers). Heavy advertising and sales promotion is used to try to get customers to seek out and specifically ask retailers for the manufacturer’s brand by name. The idea is to pull customers into the places where they buy. Consumer demand resulting in purchases will cause retailers to order goods from the manufacturers to replenish stock. Understanding your customers and how they shop is necessary when develop an effective promotional mix strategy. The third strategy, integrated, has the purpose of making promotion a group effort between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers so that this supply chain is more efficient and beneficial to all.

Elements Description
Advertising Advertising is paid non-personal communication to many people through media.
Personal Selling Personal selling is paid face-to-face personal communication that does not first go through any media.
Sales Promotion Sales promotion is paid and non-personal. It is a tool that stimulates consumer purchasing and dealer interest by means of temporary activities such as trade show displays, contests, sweepstakes, sponsored sporting events, coupons and free samples.
Direct Marketing Direct marketing is paid and personal. It includes catalogs, telemarketing, email, voicemail and mailings that are aimed directly at specific businesses, households or individuals.
Publicity Publicity is a non-paid and non-personal presentation of ideas, goods and services. For example, if the media covers an event that you are part of and you get mentioned, you have received publicity. This can be an excellent way to ultimately increase your sales.


A brand is a name or symbol that sets a product or service apart from the competition. The image of your retail store is very important as it conveys information to your customers and potential customers. You want to have an appealing brand image for your store in hopes that customers will shop there, return to buy more, and eventually develop a loyalty to your store. The communication package that you first develop will focus on informing customers of your store and letting them know something about your store. Later on, your communication package will mostly focus on reminding people that you exist and encourage them to visit again or for the first time. Right from the beginning it is best to have a store brand that uses a logo or symbol, that identifies the products that you sell and differentiates those products and services from those offered by your competitors. If there isn’t anything different or better about your store, why would a customer want to switch from shopping at the store they’ve always shopped at?

Brand Equity

Brand equity is the value and power that a brand has. Brand equity results in customers choosing one brand over another when the product or service is essentially the same. Advertising is perhaps the most thought-of way to build a brand, but there are many other ways to do it. Displaying your company at a trade show is an excellent way of promoting your brand. By providing excellent product quality and service, you can build brand awareness through word-of-mouth. A website on the Internet will help build awareness. Getting a well-known personality can help build your brand. Holding an event, such as a grand opening, will increase awareness. Sponsoring sports eventswill build more awareness. Letting people become aware of your charitable pursuits will build further positive awareness.
Ultimately you would like customers to become loyal to your brand by developing favorable associations with your brand. Brand associations are anything that is connected with the brand in the memory of your customers. You many want to link your store brand to the type of merchandise you sell, the value you offer, the product quality you offer, the service you offer, values you represent or a particular lifestyle you project. Since brand equity, if left unmanaged, will depreciate over time, it is important to carefully manage your brand.

Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.

When you advertise, link your ad to the products in the store. An easy way to do this is to display your ads on a sign board at the front of the shop. Use your logo in advertising, and as a consistent presence in your shop. Spotlight the items featured in your ad with special displays or signage. Be consistent with your advertising, so customers will come to recognize your advertising style.

Special Services

Many retailers provide special services but fail to communicate this to their customers. If you provide an extra service, such as gift wrapping, make sure your customers know about it. Make signs and mention these services in your advertising.

Personal Selling

For a small retail store, personal selling can be the key that separates you from being a success of going out of business.
Personal selling is not just about you and your staff talking to customers on the sales floor. Personal selling also occurs when you as the manager talk with your own employees about your store and your products. Personal selling happens when you speak to others at a trade show, a fair, or anywhere else for that matter. Good personal selling creates good word-of-mouth advertising. Customers will tell others about great service or awful service. Great customer service is something that you can always improve upon. How do you give great service? Here is a few suggestions.

  • Listen to your customers.
  • Hire people with a positive attitude and a service attitude.
  • Inform employees about what’s going on in the store. Schedule regular meetings if necessary.
  • Always consider the customer when making decisions in the store. Make sure the customer will be pleased.
  • Do your best, always. Go the extra mile.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotion is designed to stimulate quicker and/or greater purchases of products or services. Many of the tools used in sales promotion are short-term and limited by an end date. Sales promotion offers an incentive to purchase. Advertising offers a reason to buy something by providing an intellectually and/or an emotionally persuasive argument. The incentive that sales promotion offers is often based on price. Sales promotion tools include samples, coupons, premiums, prizes, free trials, point-of-purchase displays and demonstrations. Premiums are those free gifts that have the company’s name and or logo attached. Examples are pens and pencils, coffee mugs, fridge magnets, mouse pads and calendars, to name just a few. As products move through their life cycle, the products mature and become essentially the same at their core. When this happens price becomes more of an issue with consumers and they are more likely to purchase based on the best price when they perceive little difference between the product. Marketers will try to differentiate themselves by building brand equity (perceived brand value) through advertising and then offer an incentive through heavy promotional campaigns. In these types of markets you should expect the expenditure ratio of advertising to promotion to be leaning toward promotion and away
from advertising.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is communication with selected individual customers, other than personal selling, to illicit an immediate response. There is no marketing middleman. This type of communication is also called direct-response promotion. As marketers try to establish and build more personal relationships with customers, they are utilizing direct marketing more than they did in the past. In the past, the most common ways to conduct direct marketing was by mail, telephone and catalogs. Technology has made many other channels available to the direct marketer. Kiosks, fax machines, websites and mobile devices can also be used.

Publicity is a message communicated through the media about your company brand, products or services that is presented as a news story, not an advertisement. Since people are more likely to believe what they see and hear in a news story than in an advertisement, good publicity is one of the most valuable forms of communication there is to a company. Publicity is not something that you pay for. Examples of publicity are press releases, special events, being interviewed by the press and displaying at a trade show can be a form of publicity if your company is mentioned as part of the press's coverage of the event. For example if you are opening a new retail store, could your local community newspaper do a story on it?

Two-Way Communication

In recent years there have been numerous technological advancements that have opened up new ways to
communicate. Cell phones, fax machines, email, text messaging, pagers and Internet chat are a few examples. With these new technologies, companies are now providing more ways for customers to contact the company. No longer is the emphasis solely on communication from the company to the customer as it was many years ago, but also from the customer to the company. Technology has been able to uncover the many market niches that have existed for some time, but were unreachable in the past due to the high cost of reaching these niches. The Internet has enabled communication with these niche markets at a fraction of the cost it would have been years ago. On the Internet many people are able to communicate with each other, as with the example of blogs, and with the distributors of products that were once considered unprofitable to market through normal channels such as bricks and mortar wholesalers and retailers. Retailers focused on selling the most popular products because of their higher sales volumes. Today, as a business person, it's best to at least be aware of the existence and growth of these niche markets and the increasing level of communication that is occurring.

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