Promotional Mix and Strategies

Promotional StrategiesVery recently I received an email from an advertising company and this was the introduction, “Do you want to increase your site traffic and sales without paying a lot to Big Wall Street run search engines and media for this traffic?” And this is what was very interesting to me; it introduced itself as ‘Small Business Network dedicated to people and small businesses on Main Street.’ Wow, what does it mean? It means that nowadays, even the Main Street competes for, or with the Big Wall Street.

In this current era, marketing, advertising, and promotional strategies have gotten broader and well-thought of than ever. It has become huge, and without denying it, there are lots of options and benefits to choose from even if you are just starting out as an entrepreneur, whether with small scale or big scale business ideas.

As usual, I took time to study and get to know more about how as a company, or business owner, or entrepreneur, you can use promotional mix to advertise and promote your services and products, or becoming one of the providers or intermediaries for such services.

Basically promotional mix is just a promotional strategy that uses a combination of promotional tools or ingredients such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion, personal selling, and social media to reach the target market and fulfill the company, organization, or a business’s overall goals whether to communicate to the market, generate sales, or create channels for profit-making. As we know, advertising has several benefits, but the biggest of them is the ability to communicate to a large number of people at a time, but also to micro targeted to small groups of potential customers.

Almost all companies that sell products or services use advertising, whether in the form of a multi-million dollar campaign, or a simple classified ad in a newspaper. There are so many types and means of advertising. Examples are tradition media such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, pay-per click online advertising, banner advertising, direct marketing, billboards, transit advertising on buses and taxis, and at bus stops. And with technology advancing replacing traditional media advertising, marketers are using new methods of advertising such as websites, emails, blogs, and YouTube videos, and so on to send their advertisements to consumers.

Many companies often spend lots of money to build a positive public image. Marketers use public relations not only to maintain a positive image but also to educate the public about the company’s goals and objectives, introduce new products and help support the sales effort. A public relations program can generate favorable publicity, which is public information about a company, product, or service, or issue appearing in the mass media as a news item. Though generally companies do not directly pay for publicity and can tremendously benefit from it, public relations should not viewed as free because preparing news releases, staging special events, persuading media personnel to broadcast, or printing publicity messages, all of these cost money. Many companies sponsor various community events as a way to attract publicity.

Sales promotion is another package in the marketing mix that consists of all marketing activities other than personal selling, public relations, and the rest of advertising activities. Sales promotion stimulates consumer buying and dealer effectiveness. Examples of sales promotion are free coupons and rebates, free product samples, contents and sweepstakes, premiums, trade shows, vacation giveaways. Marketers often use sales promotion to improve the effectiveness of other ingredients in the promotional mix, especially in advertising and personal selling.

Personal selling is another tool in the promotional mix that involves communication between two people in an attempt to influence each other. With personal selling both the buyer and seller have specific objectives they wish to accomplish. For instance, the buyer wants to minimize the cost and be sure the product is a quality product, while the seller or sales person wants to maximize revenue and profit, and whether it takes place face to face or over the phone, personal selling attempts to persuade the buyer to accept a point of view. An example or personal selling is between a car sales person and a car buyer.

Social media, the most common promotional tool, and perhaps the most used one. Social media are promotion tools used to facilitate conversations among people online. Examples of social media include blogs or online journals like WordPress, BlogSpot, micro blogs like Twitter, Google+, pod-casting or online audio platforms like iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or vlogs such as online videos and newscasts on YouTube, social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. With social media, consumers are able to speak directly to other consumers, the companies, and web communities. Marketers use social media to manage their images, connect with consumers and generate interest in and desire for their companies’ products and services.

But then again, these elements or ingredients of promotional mix differ in their ability to affect the target audience. For instance, some may communicate with consumers directly, others indirectly. The message may flow one way, two ways, and multiple ways depending on the promotional ingredient you will use. Feedback may be fast or slow, a little or a lot. And the communicator may have varying degrees of control over message delivery, content, and flexibility. Unfortunately, as the internet becomes a more important component of many companies’ promotion and marketing mixes, consumers and lawmakers are increasingly concerned about possible violations of consumers’ privacy. The good thing is that whether you are a startup business or big established business you can utilize each ingredient of the promotional mix for your company, brand, products and services. Some of them cost more than others, and some are almost free, so there is no excuse for any company to fail because it couldn’t promote its products or services.

Their promotional tactics or strategies can also be categorized according to media type; paid, earned, and owned. With paid media promotional tactic, a brand or business pays for the media space. Paid media examples are banner ads, or certain featured and sponsored posts. Earned media promotional tactic is also a category of promotional strategy based on public relations or publicity to get customers talking about products or services. The idea is to keep people talking about the brand whether though media coverage or word of mouth, and so on. Owned media is a category of promotional tactic where brands are becoming publishers of their own contents in order to maximize their brands’ value to customers such as to create brand familiarity. Owned media includes companies’ websites, as well as their official presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms.

The particular promotional mix chosen by a company for a product or service depends on several factors; the nature of the product, the stage in the product life cycle, the target market characteristics, they type of buying decision, available funds, and whether a push or a pull strategy will be used.

The nature of the product is one of the factors can affect promotional mix. There are some products that their nature is not well suited to do mass promotion because perhaps they are custom-made products, and they depend on the buyer’s exact specifications, therefore, producers of such business products rely more heavily on personal selling and word of mouth than other promotional tools. But there are products are not custom-made products, they be easily promoted through advertising or social media, television and radio advertising, consumer-oriented magazines, and other highly targeted media  that are used to promote consumer goods.

There are four stages that a product goes through in its life cycle; the introduction stage, growth stage, maturity stage, and decline stage. In introduction stage, the basic goal of promotion is to inform the target audience that the product is available. Advertising and public relations are mainly used in this stage to inform the target audience of the product class or brand. While sales promotion can encourage early trial of the product, personal selling can get retailers to carry the product. In the growth stage of the product, different types of potential buyers are targeted. Although advertising and public relations continue to be major elements of promotional mix, sales promotion can be reduced because consumers need fewer incentives to purchase. The promotional strategy in this stage is to emphasize the product’s differential advantage over the competition. Therefore, persuasive promotion is used to build and maintain brand loyalty during the growth stage. The next stage of the product life cycle will be the maturity stage. Competition become fiercer and thus persuasive and reminder advertising are more strongly emphasized in maturity stage. The last stage will be the product decline stage. All promotion, especially advertising is reduced as the product enters the decline stage.

A target market characteristic and buying decision are the next factors that affect promotion mix. In order to select the best methods to reach different target markets, companies need to know what types of media different targets use, how often they make purchases, where they make purchases, and their readiness to purchase as well as characteristics such as age, gender, and lifestyle. Some people are early adopters and want to try new things as soon as they are available, and other groups wait until products have been on the market for a while. A college student may not be ready to purchase a new car while in school, but make the decision to buy the product later in his life. Therefore, all these buying decisions and target market characteristics must be considered.

But also money or lack of it can be the most important factor in determining the promotional mix. Lack of money will certainly force a company to use less cost and sometimes less than efficient promotional methods. The inefficiency comes for instance  when a small startup has to use personal selling to reach a large target market as opposed to the more efficient advertising option. It is only companies with necessary or enough financial resources that can utilize the promotional mix effort. The costs and risks associated with the product also influence the promotional mix. When the costs or risks of buying and using the product increase, personal selling becomes more important. Inexpensive items cannot support the cost of a salesperson’s time and effort unless the potential volume is high. On the other hand, expensive and complex machinery, cars, and new homes represent a considerable investment therefore requires the need of the salesperson to make sure the buyers are spending their money wisely.

The purpose of promotion is to motivate and persuade not only the ultimate consumers, but also to the intermediaries who are available involved in making available goods finally to consumers. The promotion mix therefore, is also affected by whether the company adopts a push strategy or a pull strategy. Under push strategy the promotion is directed at the marketing intermediaries. The manufacturer persuades wholesales to carry the product, while wholesalers convince retailers to sell the product to consumers. The retailer again pushes the product to consumers through word of mouth supported by point of purchase display. Push strategy uses lots of personal selling and dealer promotions. Under pull strategy the manufacturers build consumer awareness and conviction through mass advertising. When consumers began demanding the product, retailers place orders for the product to the wholesalers, and wholesalers to the manufacturer. It is during the maturity stage of the product life cycle that pull strategy is implemented through consumer promotions.

When it comes to promotional mix, there are so many options to choose from depending on your needs, what you are looking for, or what you can afford. You know, promotion is just a term used to express another way of communication strategy that seeks to modify behaviors and thoughts in some ways. For example; a company is said to promote something when it persuades or motivates consumers to purchase its company’s goods and services through various communication tools. Therefore, these are four goals of promotions; to inform, persuade, remind, and connect with the audiences.

Most of the time people will not buy a product or service until they know its purpose and its benefit to them. So promoting a product or service is another way to inform people of what you are serving or providing, and the benefit people will received if they become consumers of it.

After informing your customers about your services and products, the next step you need to take is persuading them to buy them. Persuasive promotion is designed to stimulate a purchase or an action. This is where as a company you need to persuade customers to buy your company’s products rather than that of a competitor. People also like to be reminded from time to time, especially in this era where there are so many products with same purposes competing against each other.

Reminder promotion is used to keep the product and the brand name in the public’s mind. Its purpose is simply to trigger a memory to consumers. This type of strategy is used for a product that has reached the maturity state of the life cycle after its target market has already been persuaded of its benefits or merits.

Literally, it can feel like the world is moving to social media. The ideal behind social media and social network is to form relationships with current and potential customers through technology. With social media, companies can promote their brands or products and connecting with their customers through social networks, social games, social publishing tools, as well as social commerce.

I know, its a lot of information to chew at one time. But as an entrepreneur, investor, or business owner for instance, this information is essential for you to know to be able to effectively reach your audiences, reach your target market, and if you want to thrive or survive in your industry and market in this business world.HMsignature


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