As businesses enter a market, look to develop a brand or aim to increase sales of particular products, they must choose where and how to spend marketing dollars. Even though there often appears to be a myriad number of ways to handle this issue, the vast majority of marketing falls inside within six major modes or methods of communication.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing aims to elicit an immediate response of some kind in precisely targeted recipients, ranging from placing a phone call to making a purchase. Marketing messages may take the form of physical mail, telemarketing calls or email.

Public Relations

Public relations refers to the management and development of beneficial relationships between an organization and public segments, such as stock owners, the media and customers. In addition to the well-known press release and press conference, PR includes crafting message content and providing advice regarding the impact of controversial advertising or business decisions.

Personal Selling

Personal selling entails placing a salesperson in the room with a potential or existing customer to answer questions and highlight the benefits of a product. This approach offers a chance to build and maintain relationships, while capitalizing on the greater attention a client pays to another person.

Sales Promotions

Sales promotions seek to provide an incentive to consumers, typically to purchase a product or increase interest in a brand. Discount pricing, samples and coupons are common types of sales promotions. Promotions that employ discount pricing do run the risk of reducing the perceived value of the product.


Advertising includes a broad range of approaches that can aim to build brands, improve reputation or increase product purchases. Common methods of advertising include print ads in newspapers and magazines, radio spots and television commercials. Many businesses now integrate online ads. Advertising may target a very specific market or aim to appeal to a broad cross-section of consumers.


Events provide a way to introduce a product or service in a context that targets specific consumers while enhancing the odds of the brand sticking in the memory with an experience. Events that include celebrities often yield free publicity and, by proxy, free advertising.


Arguably, the exponential growth of Internet use and social media, in particular, makes it the unofficial seventh major mode of marketing communication. However, the line between online communication as a separate mode and the Internet as simply another communication channel through which to engage in advertising, PR, direct marketing and promotional activities remains unclear.