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Promotion - Number 4 of the 4 P's in Marketing

Here is a detailed overview of the promotion segment within the marketing mix.  The perspective from a customer-centric point of view is in parenthesis:


Promotion (Communication).  This is the essence of marketing.  You first need to establish a brand such as Ford or Coke, then product name such as Mustang or Diet, along with a logo.  Any type of identifier that can separate your product from the rest is also beneficial, such as the unique shape of an Orangina bottle.  You also need to know whom you are targeting, which is known as demographics as previously discussed. 


Once you have your brand and demographics in order, you need to choose the way you want to present the product.  You should determine facts like whether it should be demonstrated, dramatized, explained, or displayed.  Ways to help make sure you have fully developed the content of the message, also known as the “ad copy,” are through various guidelines like AIDA and USP. 


AIDA is an acronym for:


  • Get Attention by using humor, color, models, etc.
  • Hold Interest with a question or statement that makes you think about the product.
  • Arouse Desire that makes you want the product.
  • Obtain Action that tells you what you need to do to get the product.


USP is an acronym for Unique Selling Proposition.  The message focuses on the products uniqueness, which is the motivational reason for people to buy it.  This is usually communicated through a memorable tag line that says it all about the product.  An example would be, “Milk, it does a body good.”  Whether this is actually true or not, the message makes you think one important and easy to remember thing about milk, if you drink it you‘ll be healthy. 


The promotional mix is made up of four main tools, Advertising, Personal selling, Sales promotion, and Publicity.

  1. Advertising – This is the most common form of promotion.  The three most common types of advertising messages are:


  • Creative messages, which uses humor, seduction, or desire to try to attract the customer based on the image, rather than the quality.  This type of image advertising creates a mood or feeling around the product rather than focusing on the features or benefits.  An example of this type of message is a seductive jean commercial that says little about the actual quality of the product.


  • Statement messages, which focuses more on a “quick and to the point” message around the features and benefits of the product.  An example of this type of message is a cold medicine that lets you know that once taken, you will sleep easier.


  • Creative and Statement messages, which looks for the perfect combination of the two.  It clearly lets you know the features and benefits, and at the same time uses a funny or desirable image that is instantly recognizable.  This is the optimal type of message, but it is hard to find the perfect combination to get the point across.  A successful example of this type of message is the old Verizon commercial with the phrase, “Can you hear me now?  Good.”  You know you are going to get a phone that can make a call anywhere due to the image of person going around the country confirming that fact.


Once the content of the message has been established, it’s time to consider which media you will use to get your message out and create an awareness of your product.  This lets people know your product exists, and helps when making a choice on which product to buy based on seeing or recalling your ad. 


Advertising methods most commonly used are through magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, direct mail, trade shows, yellow pages, e-mail blast, billboards, posters, and over the Internet.  It is also a great idea to list testimonials, customer statements, and case studies about the value of the product on your company’s web site.


Advertising through media buys can be costly and needs to be carefully budgeted.  One way to set up a budget is to estimate the expected sales.  For example, if the expected sales are $100,000, you can budget a figure like 5% towards the ad campaign, or $5,000.  You can also use the industry average towards advertising costs. 


Here is an example of a common way for a retailer or service based company to budget for advertising:


Projected gross sales, times 12% (common percentage), minus the cost of occupancy (rent), equals the advertising budget.  For example, it the gross sales is projected to be $100,000, and the cost of occupancy is $5,000, then the advertising budget should not go over $7000. 


100,000 * .12 - 5,000 = 7,000


A couple of ways to measure the amount of people who might view your advertisement is through Reach, Frequency & Impact.  Reach calculates the number of people who were potentially exposed to the ad, Frequency measures the number of times people see or hear the advertisement, and Impact determines whether the ad is remembered and communicated as intended, which is usually seen in a higher increase in sales.


  1. Personal Selling – This involves face-to-face communication.  Although it can be expensive if the salesperson is salary-based rather than commission based, it is highly effective as people are more willing to buy your product, and it also creates long lasting relationships.  There will be more information about the sales force later in this lesson.


  1. Sales Promotion - Some common promotional tools used are coupons, discounts, incentives, rebates, contests, and sponsoring special events.  These tools help getting people to buy the company’s product.  You can also use premiums such as coffee mugs, T-shirts, and tote bags.  Giving out these free premiums gets the company’s name out to your current or potential customers.   Free samples such as cereals or snack foods are also effective for consumer-based products.  Demonstrations like test drives or playing computer games are also a very effective way to promote the product. 


Sales promotions to businesses and industries such as offering quantity discounts, free merchandise or buy-back allowances, are effective and build trusting and workable relationships.


  1. Public Relations (PR) – This is one of the best and most effective ways to promote your product.  Contacting magazine editors, local TV stations, newspaper journalists, or any other type of communications to set up interviews or set up public speaking events with some of the company’s experts is a great way to promote the company and its products.  These experts are the spokespeople for the company and they can help create public interest within their industry.  Winning awards, creative articles, and press releases about a new product offering, also helps get the word out.  A positive story about your company and its products can be more effective than paid advertising.  This is because it builds credibility, and people tend to take this information as fact. 
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