The promotional mix is the combination of tools used to promote a product. There are four aspects to the promotional mix; sales promotion, advertising, personal selling and public relations.
This article looks at sales promotion and advertising.
Sales promotion is the process of persuading a potential customer to buy the product. It is designed for immediate results and is usually for a specific time period. It can also be used as a part of the personal selling process. Sales promotion supplement advertising and other aspects of visual promotions. Examples of sales promotion are trading stamps, free gifts/gift tokens, loss leaders, competition, production demonstrations, exhibitions, free samples among others.
Some methods of sales promotion:
Cash discounts – These can either be in cash refunds or deductions from invoices over a specified period of time.
Money off coupons – Customers receive coupons, or cut coupons from newspapers or take along with product packaging when they go to purchase. This enables them to buy the product at a reduced price.
Competitions – Customer take part in a chance to win by buying the product.
Discount vouchers – A voucher (like a money off coupon) that will allow the customer some discount on the purchase price of the product.
Exhibitions and Trade Shows – Items are neatly displayed to promote sales and attract potential customers at shows.
Free gifts – Customers get a free product when they buy another product. This is normally given out to customers according to how much they spend, so the criterion could be purchases of $100 and over.
Point of sales materials – E.g. posters and display stands; these are ways of presenting the product in its best way or showing the customer that the product is there and available for purchase.
Loyalty cards – Customers earn points for buying certain goods or shopping at certain retailers, which can later be exchanged for money, goods or other offers. Loyalty cards have become an important form of sales promotion. Loyalty cards can offset the discounts a business offer by making more sales and persuading the customer to come back. They also provide information about the shopping habits of customers – where do they shop, when and what do they buy. This is valuable marketing information and can be used in the planning process for new and existing products.
Loss leader – A loss leader is a popular product being sold at below market price to encourage customers to enter the store in the hope that they will make other purchases.
Trading stamps – These are given freely to purchasers by merchants. The customer can then save them until they have a certain number; when returned to the shop or some specified dealer, the customer get goods or money in exchange.
Premium offers – These include self-liquidation devices (being asked to return empty bottles etc for cash or product), gifts, contests, bargain packs (such as buy one get one free).
Advertising presents or promotes the product to the target audience through media such as TV, radio, and billboards to encourage them to buy. When deciding which type of advertising to use (known as an advertising medium) the business needs to consider the following factors:
Reach of the media – nationally or locally, the number of potential customers it could reach.
Nature of the product – the media need to reflect the image of the product; a recruitment ad would be placed in a trade magazine or newspaper but a lipstick ad would be shown on TV or in women’s magazines.
Position in product life cycle – launch stage will need different advertising from extension strategies.
Cost of medium – radio is cheaper than TV, but you may want to consider cost per head if reaching a larger audience.
In the printed media, advertising can take two forms:
A classified ad is normally put into a newspaper by an individual and is expressed solely in words and numbers.
A display ad is where space is bought in the newspaper or magazine and can be filled with words and/or pictures.
Display adverts have more impact, but are more expensive.
Advertising can also be split into types:
Persuasive advertising – This is to entice the customer to buy the product by informing them of the product’s benefits.
Informative advertising – This serves to inform the consumer.
Comparative advertising – This is used to compare your product to others, of course pointing out the positives of your product compared to the others.
Reminder advertising – This serves to inform that the product is still available. This is usually used in areas with a lot of competition or when the product has been around a while and you need to increase its popularity.
Advertising serves to:
- To announce new products
- To highlight the unique features of a product
- To build a firm’s image around its product
- To increase market share by stimulating demand
- To educate customers about the products
- To highlight special events, such as concessions, sales or late opening
- You will need to be fully aware of the laws that govern advertising.
Sometimes a business will employ an advertising agency to deal with its needs. An agency plans, organizes and produces advertising campaigns for other businesses. The advantage of an agency managing the campaign is that it has the expertise a business may not have, e.g. copywriters, designers and media buyers.
- Television (TV)
- Creates and maintains public and consumer awareness of the product.
- Attracts different demographic segments of the population.
- A medium such as radio is not very expensive and so affordable for small business owners.
- The visuals produced by television make it a powerful means of persuasion.
- Telemarketing is a turn-off for many consumers and it is also very expensive
- Sometimes there are several laws and restrictions to observe
- Ads usually have to be aired at a certain time for better effect and those time periods are usually more costly such as morning peak hours or primetime
- Creates credibility
- Printed words last a very long time.
- Customers can refer to it when they need to
- Less use of colour
- Presentation is not as lively or friendly
- There is no way of knowing if target audience reads it
- It’s animated and thus eye-catching
- You can target a specific audience more easily
- In recent times there are limited audience because of the competition from TV and radio
- Can create strong impact
- Signs can be attention grabbing
- Often have to be updated or replaced