Elements of Promotional Mix

Giuseppe Miglino/iStock/GettyImages

How can you get the word out about your business? You can do so through strategic and tactical marketing using a variety of promotion tools. The way a business promotes its goods and services will depend on a number of factors such as audience, budget and resources. Before developing your promotional mix, carefully plan out your marketing strategy as a whole so you can effectively reach your target audience.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The elements of the promotion mix include advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, direct marketing and public relations.

Get to Know the Marketing Mix

The aspect of promotion is one section of the marketing mix, which includes product, price, place and promotion. In order to market itself effectively so that the target audience will take notice, a business needs to craft a plan that takes into account all four elements of the marketing mix and makes sure that they all work together to convey the desired message to compel a sale.

For example, if the elements of the promotion mix don’t compliment the price of the product, then the plan will have more difficulty succeeding. A small business that sells high-end designer jewelry would not want to advertise in a bargain magazine, as that kind of promotion would likely not reach the right audience. Similarly, the place where the goods are sold needs to work in conjunction with the qualities of the product.

The Different Types of Promotion

While there are many different promotion tools from which businesses can choose to market their products and services, they generally fall into five distinct categories. Promotional mix examples are advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, direct marketing and public relations.

Businesses can select any number of these elements when crafting the perfect promotional mix. Generally, it’s wise to reach the target audience through a number of different promotion tools to ensure the product or service stays top of mind for prospects.

Before selecting the elements of the promotion mix, it’s best to carefully establish who your audience is, what the goals of your promotion are and what message you’ll use to reach your prospects. Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of messages a day, so if you want yours to stand out, it’s best to figure out what your audience wants to hear.

Define Your Target Market

The first step in developing your promotion mix strategy involves gaining a clear understanding of who your target audience is. These are the people whose problems you can solve with your product. It’s critical to research their demographics, such as gender, age, location, job description and salary. In addition, you’ll need to know what kind of challenges they face in the real world that might lead them to buy your product. Find out how your product will make life better for them.

Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to determine which types of promotion you should use. Knowing your audience’s demographics and challenges can help you determine if an advertising and public relations campaign will catch their attention better than personal selling, for example.

If your business is selling environmentally friendly, handmade clothing, for example, it’s likely that your target audience values sustainable businesses. They likely want to do their part in taking care of the environment and may be very concerned about climate change.

Establish Your Promotional Goal

After you’ve defined your target audience, determine the goals of your promotion. It’s likely that your business will want to see an increase in revenue, but clearly plan out how you will get there in each tactical step.

Do you want the prospects to click the buy button on your website, or do you want them to walk into your store? Is your goal to create brand awareness and develop brand loyalty in the long run, or are you just looking for a quick boost in sales to close out the year?

In the case of the environmentally friendly clothing business, they might want to encourage prospects to click the buy button on their online store. As a result, all of their promotional tools will focus on that call to action in their messaging. If they are using online advertising and direct marketing, for example, then the main goal for each promotional piece will be to convince the prospects to head to the website so they can make a purchase.

Craft Your Message

Develop a clear, cohesive and succinct message with which your target audience will identify. Speak to their challenges and fears and show them how your product or service will help to meet their needs and solve their problems. Create a unique value proposition that includes exactly what you offer and what makes your business stand out. Write down a list of three to five aspects of your business that are special to you. Be sure to relate those elements to the problems the consumer is facing.

In addition to figuring out what you want to say, you’ll need to decide how you want to say it. This includes establishing a voice for your brand that you can use throughout your promotions. Is your audience more interested in a brand that’s formal, funny or serious, for example?

For the small business selling sustainable clothes, they may establish that what makes them unique is their dedication to using environmentally friendly materials, recyclable packaging and a reduced footprint with an online-only store. When creating their promotions, they will use these three aspects as the key selling points to entice their audience.

Reach a Wide Audience With Advertising

One of the best-known elements of the promotion mix, advertising is any paid form of media communication with a clear sponsor. Advertising venues include television, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines and online. On the internet, there are a number of categories for types of ads, which include text, search, banner, social media and remarketing.

Advertising is a great way for a business to reach a large audience with a broad message. It’s an effective type of promotion for telling your prospects about the benefits of your product or service and how it can help to solve their problems. It’s also a good way to build brand awareness and introduce new product lines. Advertising at key intervals on many platforms helps to keep the brand top of mind for prospects.

However, advertising doesn’t allow the prospects to directly engage with the company because it is a one-way promotional tool. In addition, it can be expensive and out of reach for many small businesses. In most cases, advertising online generally enables businesses to more closely target their consumers while remaining cost effective. For example, the small business that sells environmentally friendly clothing can advertise through social media ads targeting anyone who is part of an environmentally conscious group on Facebook.

Establish Trust With Personal Selling

Personal selling involves building direct relationships with your prospects over the phone, in person or over email. This kind of promotion is usually done in a one-on-one setting and is a two-way line of communication. This allows the prospect to ask questions about the product and the business and enables the seller to alleviate any concerns the buyer may have. It’s also a great way to establish trust between the prospect and the business.

However, because it involves one-on-one communication, personal selling can be very expensive. Many small businesses don’t have a sales force, and the staff members are often jacks of all trades, taking care of a number of different parts of the business. This means they may not have the time to devote to personal selling.

Incentivize Purchases With Sales Promotions

Sales promotions are marketing activities that provide prospects with an incentive to buy by adding value to the product. Examples of commonly used sales promotional tools include discounts, gifts, contests, premiums, coupons and rebates. This promotion tactic is often used to build loyalty among existing customers and offers new customers a low-risk reason to purchase.

One of the major benefits of sales promotions is that they are a great way for businesses to quickly increase their revenue in a short period of time. When tied to a specific event or holiday, such as Valentine's Day or the end of the school year, for example, sales promotions can be quite successful. However, businesses need to be careful that they don’t make customers dependent on sales promotions. Sometimes, offering too many promotions causes customers to hold out and wait to make a purchase until they receive some kind of added value.

For the small business selling environmentally friendly clothes, a sales promotion may be to offer a buy-one-get-one special during the holiday season or to offer free shipping with the purchase of a certain dollar amount.

Compel Action With Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is one of those promotion tools that provides prospects with a highly tailored message. Similar to personal selling, which is used to build trust in a one-on-one setting, direct marketing focuses on providing tailored content to a highly targeted list. It’s an example of one-to-few marketing, where building trust and validating concerns are the goals. Examples of direct marketing include email marketing, telemarketing, catalogs and mailed coupons.

The business sends out specific messages to a small segment of its audience based on the prospects’ interests, past purchasing history and a number of other factors. Because the message is specifically designed for this segment, there is a greater chance that the audience will take notice. Direct marketing is often used to announce company information such as new product lines and new sales promotions. In order for direct marketing to be successful, businesses need to ensure their contact lists are up to date and easy to filter and contain the necessary information.

For the business that sells environmentally friendly clothing, direct marketing is a great way to announce new products like a new line of outerwear. They can target past customers who have purchased outerwear from them in the last two years. This way, the business knows it is reaching people who have bought a similar item in the past, so they may be more likely to do so again in the future.

Build Goodwill With Public Relations

Public relations involves developing a favorable image for the brand in the media, with the goal of building brand awareness and increasing sales. Typically, media coverage is not paid for by the business. Public relations activities include press releases, press conferences, sponsorships and media interviews.

This promotional tool is an effective way to conduct damage control if your business has developed a bad reputation or is facing criticism in the media. Public relations is also used by businesses to build goodwill in the community by offering time, money through sponsorships or free and low-cost products and services to specific groups.

Keep in mind that media coverage is not something many businesses can control. While the goal of public relations is to develop a favorable image in the media for prospects to take note, it’s possible that the message can miss the mark or not reach prospects at all.

References

Resources

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.