Promotional Mix

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The promotion mix or element of marketing mix is concerned with activities that are commenced to communicate with customers and distribution channels to enhance the sales of the firm.

Elements of Promotion Mix

These elements of promotion mix activities mainly includes:

  1. Advertising
  2. Direct marketing
  3. Sales Promotion
  4. Personal selling
  5. Publicity
  6. Public Relations


Advertising is defined as any paid form of non-personal communication about an organization, product, service, or idea by an identified sponsor.

Advertising is defined as any paid form of non-personal communication about an organization, product, service, or idea by an identified sponsor.32 The paid aspect of this definition reflects the fact that the space or time for an advertising message generally must be bought. An occasional exception to this is the public service announcement (PSA), whose advertising space or time is donated by the media.

The non-personal component means that advertising involves mass media (e.g., TV, radio, magazines, newspapers) that can transmit a message to large groups of individuals, often at the same time. The non-personal nature of advertising means that there is generally no opportunity for immediate feedback from the message recipient (except in direct-response advertising).

Therefore, before the message is sent, the advertiser must consider how the audience will interpret and respond to it. Advertising is the best-known and most widely discussed form of promotion, probably because of its pervasiveness.

It is also a very important promotional tool, particularly for companies whose products and services are targeted at mass consumer markets such as automobile manufacturers, packaged goods, and drug companies.

Advertising is also used extensively by companies who compete in the business and professional markets to reach current and potential customers. For example, business-to-business marketers use advertising to perform important functions such as building awareness of the company and its products, generating leads for the sales force, and reassuring customers about the purchase they have made.

Direct Marketing

One of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy is direct marketing, in which organizations communicate directly with target customers to generate a response and/or a transaction. Traditionally, direct marketing has not been considered an element of the promotional mix.

However, because it has become such an integral part of the IMC program of many organizations and often involves separate objectives, budgets, and strategies, we view direct marketing as a component of the promotional mix.

Direct marketing is much more than direct mail and mail-order catalogs. It involves a variety of activities, including database management, direct selling, telemarketing, and direct-response ads through direct mail, the Internet, and various broadcast and print media. Some companies, such as Tupperware, Discovery Toys, and Amway, do not use any other distribution channels, relying on independent contractors to sell their products directly to consumers.

Direct marketing plays a big role in the integrated marketing communications programs of consumer-product companies and business-to-business marketers. These companies spend large amounts of money each year developing and maintaining databases containing the addresses and/or phone numbers of present and prospective customers.

They use telemarketing to call customers directly and attempt to sell them products and services or qualify them as sales leads. Marketers also send out direct mail pieces ranging from simple letters and flyers to detailed brochures, catalogs, and videotapes to give potential customers information about their products or services. Direct-marketing techniques are also used to distribute product samples.

Sales Promotion

The next variable in the promotional mix is sales promotion, which is generally defined as those marketing activities that provide extra value or incentives to the sales force, the distributors, or the ultimate consumer and can stimulate immediate sales.

Sales promotion is generally broken into two major categories:

  • Consumer-oriented
  • Trade oriented activities

Consumer-oriented sales promotion is targeted to the ultimate user of a product or service and includes couponing, sampling, premiums, rebates, contests, sweepstakes, and various point-of-purchase materials. These promotional tools encourage consumers to make an immediate purchase and thus can stimulate short-term sales.

Trade-oriented sales promotion is targeted toward marketing intermediaries such as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Promotional and merchandising allowances, price deals, sales contests, and trade shows are some of the promotional tools used to encourage the trade to stock and promote a company’s products.

Promotion and sales promotion are two terms that often create confusion in the advertising and marketing fields. As noted, promotion is an element of marketing by which firms communicate with their customers; it includes all the promotional mix elements we have just discussed. However, many marketing and advertising practitioners use the term more narrowly to refer to sales promotion activities to either consumers or the trade (retailers, wholesalers).

Personal Selling

The final element of an organization’s promotional mix is personal selling, a form of person-to-person communication in which a seller attempts to assist and/or persuade prospective buyers to purchase the company’s product or service or to act on an idea.

Unlike advertising, personal selling involves direct contact between buyer and seller, either face-to-face or through some form of telecommunications such as telephone sales. This interaction gives the marketer communication flexibility; the seller can see or hear the potential buyer’s reactions and modify the message accordingly.

The personal, individualized communication in personal selling allows the seller to tailor the message to the customer’s specific needs or situation. Personal selling also involves more immediate and precise feedback because the impact of the sales presentation can generally be assessed from the customer’s reactions.

If the feedback is unfavorable, the salesperson can modify the message. Personal selling efforts can also be targeted to specific markets and customer types that are the best prospects for the company’s product or service. The various promotional mix elements are the major tools that marketers use to communicate with current and/or prospective customers as well as other relevant audiences.

Another important component of an organization’s promotional mix is publicity/ public relations.


Publicity refers to nonpersonal communications regarding an organization, product, service, or idea not directly paid for or run under identified sponsorship. It usually comes in the form of a news story, editorial, or announcement about an organization and/or its products and services.

Like advertising, publicity involves non-personal communication to a mass audience, but unlike advertising, publicity is not directly paid for by the company. The company or organization attempts to get the media to cover or run a favorable story on a product, service, cause, or event to affect awareness, knowledge, opinions, and/or behavior. Techniques used to gain publicity include news releases, press conferences, feature articles, photographs, films, and videotapes.

An advantage of publicity over other forms of promotion is its credibility. Consumers generally tend to be less skeptical toward favourable information about a product or service when it comes from a source they perceive as unbiased.

Public Relations

It is important to recognize the distinction between publicity and public relations. When an organization systematically plans and distributes information in an attempt to control and manage its image and the nature of the publicity it receives, it is really engaging in a function known as public relations.

Public relations is defined as “the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”

Public relations generally has a broader objective than publicity, as its purpose is to establish and maintain a positive image of the company among its various publics. Public relations uses publicity and a variety of other tools – including special publications, participation in community activities, fund-raising, sponsorship of special events, and various public affairs activities – to enhance an organization’s image.

Organizations also use advertising as a public relations tool. Traditionally, publicity and public relations have been considered more supportive than primary to the marketing and promotional process.

However, many firms have begun making PR an integral part of their predetermined marketing and promotional strategies. PR firms are increasingly touting public relations as a communications tool that can take over many of the functions of conventional advertising and marketing.

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