Business owners often use terms like marketing and sales promotion interchangeably, but technically these terms can refer to distinct elements in your business plan. Marketing strategies generally refer to overarching plans for product development, promotion and delivery. Sales strategies, in contrast, fall into subcategories of your overall marketing strategy.

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy, called the marketing mix, is a comprehensive plan for promoting, selling and delivering a product to a target market. Experts generally break the marketing mix down into the following categories: product, price, promotion and place. Each category embodies a distinct but complementary strategy for achieving the overall goal -- typically, increased sales -- of the marketing strategy.


Sales strategies fall under the marketing mix’s category of promotion, which itself has four elements: advertising, personal selling, public relations and sales promotions. In a sense, all four elements have the ultimate goal of increasing sales. For example, advertisements can increase sales by convincing consumers that a product is a good value, and public relations might generate goodwill through charity events, eventually stimulating sales. But the remaining two elements, personal selling and sales promotions, most directly involve sales techniques and strategies.

Personal Selling

Personal selling involves face-to-face sales strategies, such as those used by car dealers and door-to-door salespeople. Identifying quality prospects -- consumers likely to buy a product -- is a typical starting point for a personal selling strategy because it maximizes the chances of success. Other sales strategies include product demonstrations and comparisons, as well as attempts to win a prospect’s trust with charm. Personal selling can be highly effective, although it is often relatively expensive due to the high staffing costs it entails.

Sales Promotions

Sales promotions involve a wide variety of sales strategies, including contests, product giveaways, catalogs, coupons, discounts and more. Marketing events, such as trade shows, also fall under the category of sales promotions. Sales promotions often target either consumers or wholesalers and retailers. For example, a fast-food coupon is a sales strategy aimed at consumers, while a company booth at a trade show aims to increase sales to wholesalers or retailers.