Definition of Promotional Materials

by Rick Suttle; Updated September 26, 2017

All types of businesses use promotional materials to market their products and services. Promotional materials can include sales collateral material, advertisements and even small, everyday products that contain the name and phone number of a business. Promotional products can serve many purposes before or after a sale.


Promotional materials such as visual aids that include industry data, market research survey results and product information brochures are often used by sales people to enhance the selling process. The proper use of visual aids can be the difference between making a sale and not making the sale. Visual aids, often called sales collateral materials, can be shown as hard copies or even on a projector from a laptop. Visual aids usually serve the dual purpose of promoting both the company and their products or services.


Some promotional materials are geared toward reminding a customer about a business like advertising specialties. Advertising specialties are promotional items such as calendars, pens, paperweights or notepads that contain the name and phone number of a business. Sometimes, a company will send out promotional materials like coupons to generate leads or to drive traffic to their store.


Some promotional materials draw attention at the store, restaurant or business location. These types of promotional items are called point-of-purchase (POP) materials. Point-of-purchase materials come in many sizes and shapes. For example, a video rental place may use window posters, in-store display units and shelf POP to inform and direct customers to their newest video releases. Additional in-store materials like television monitors showing movie trailers or brochures may be used to enhance the rental or selling process. There are also compact disc cards that can highlight a business like a movie.


Sometimes, promotional items can be incorporated on simple promotional pieces like business cards. CD-R or CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory) can be distributed so customers can watch your promotion on their computer. CD-R business cards can include all of a company's print promotional items in one convenient location so a potential customer can access them at any time.


Promotions are not the same thing as advertisements. Advertising is generally much more expensive than a promotion, and is used to bring long-term awareness to customers about a product or service. Examples of advertising include magazine, yellow pages and newspaper ads as well as direct mail. Promotional materials are relatively inexpensive and typically serve as an incentive to customers. Promotional materials also allow customers to study the information about a product or service, but often prompts the customer to act on the offer during the promotion.

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