To introduce their products & services to customers or widen their reach, companies use a combination of approaches and activities. The set of coordinated tactics/tools comprise what is called the promotional mix.
Contemporary organizations vary in the set of tools they use to effectively communicate to the consuming public and other stakeholders the upside and thrusts of their product or service offerings. The main categories of the promotional tools are advertising, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling, and sales promotion.
Small enterprising firms as well as established companies that have made the leap from good to great know very well that balancing these five tools in a carefully planned, synergistic way can spur sales and bring in revenues. Determining or revising a promotional mix depends on several key factors, though. The product life cycle stage (the launch, growth, maturity or decline stage), the company’s budget, the target market, competition and the nature of the product /service are among the vital factors to consider.
The key messages that the company wants to ingrain in audiences, or overall objectives must also be clear. It is also vital to sustain most of the five elements of the promotional mix in order to yield the desired outcome. Public relations, for instance, is a continuous and coordinated practice that may tap various media – television, print, radio, online and non-traditional marketing like billboards and bus ads – to create a positive public image.
Nowadays, there are lots of innovative firms that directly touch base with customers through personal selling. All the other elements of a promotional plan like advertising, online website support and direct marketing simply help the personal sellers inform or persuade their potential & existing customers to carry on the business. Personal selling may involve bringing target customers to a venue or to the office headquarters where sales presentations are conducted.
Sales promotion is part and parcel of the marketing strategy of countless organizations today. Healthcare institutions, retail stores, auto manufacturers, computer firms, fast-food companies and restaurants, airline companies and other industries have at some point in time reaped benefits from a good sales promotion strategy. Those in the food & beverage business often get some consumer attention by offering product samples in high-traffic areas like supermarkets.
In many instances, some companies tie up with other organizations to offer customers promotional come-ons like toys to attract customers to buy. On the other hand, some organizations use approaches that do not necessarily aim to convince people to place an order or to buy at the moment.
The aim may be to highlight important values that the company wants itself to be associated with. In the process, the organization may get the attention of international organizations or governments. For example, established firms like Siemens may employ a combination of approaches like annual reports featured online, as well as advertising in leading international news magazines to draw attention to its track record of experience and expertise, and eventually form partnerships with competent groups/institutions.
Companies may change their promotional approaches with the passage of time, depending on factors like how competition is affecting them, the financial situation, and whether they have built the necessary infrastructure to carry out tasks like online ordering and home delivery, for example.
World-renowned luxury car makers like Mercedes-Benz and Audi may continue to go for a promotional mix like TV & print advertisements (plus online article marketing), billboards, and events sponsorships. On the other hand, an upstart trendy but overpriced restaurant-bar suited for the young, upwardly mobile set may try promotional methods like social media marketing and coupon deals. Coupons are forms of sales promotion that are proven effective in attracting or introducing new products & services to consumers who want value for money.
As for many companies with many retail franchises, such as Haagen Dazs, a promotional mix that includes all the elements –advertising (including outdoor ads), public relations, personal selling, sales promotion plus some direct marketing – have been shown to contribute to sales growth. In some territories, franchisers have had to invest as well on web-based technology to remotely monitor and easily contact franchisees to inform and address problems that occur.
In the present age, forward-thinking organizations have devised strategic marketing plans that incorporate an online strategy, an integrated branding campaign, and sales promotion strategies including trade exhibition events complete with marketing collaterals & other sales support tools.
The method of market entry, as shown for instance in the cases of established global firms like Nike, Uniqlo, Mango, Zara, and so on, affects the chosen promotional mix. Conventional tools like TV & print advertising combined with an online strategy have worked well for these companies. It can be noted that in the case of these global firms that have successfully expanded across the world, there is tight control on various aspects of marketing.