Several decades ago, marketing was often thought of as the promotion of a business. Today, marketing seems to have its hand in every conceivable aspect of running a business.
This growth, however, has not overshadowed the importance of good promotion. This should be obvious to anyone who watches the Superbowl, and knows how much companies pay for those commercials. (I think the hype of it is actually the success of the TV stations’ marketing.) With that in mind, think for a moment of how to get your business noticed, and remember, entrepreneurs aren’t shy.
Promotion is comprised of all the tools available to the marketer for marketing communication, a process that is made up of several different elements including sales, public relation, direct sales, sponsorship, and of course, advertising.
Promotion of your company can entail subtle activities such as procedures and policies designed to give your company notice. These could include something as simple as making “every third time you have contact with a client, whether by phone or mail, have nothing to do with your services-such as telling them about an article or gathering” (Davidson in Roha, 1999). Would this constitute promotion of your business? Does this promote a customer service atmosphere? Would your customer talk about it, or you, for telling about it? If yes to any one of these, it is promotion.
The main focus of promotion has always been advertising, and while there are certain industries and styles of business that rely more heavily on other avenues to promote their business, advertising remains a major force and tool in promotion. Again, we have only to look at the sums paid to run ads during the Superbowl.
Anderson & Vincze (2000), break down the determination of whether or not to use a heavy advertising campaign into five key conditions.
Ã?Â·Favorable trend in demand.
Ã?Â·Strong product differentiation.
Ã?Â·Emotional buying motives.
Does a market demand your product or service? Is your product different? Are there attributes to your product or service that customers would have to rely on you for knowledge about? Can your product or service really get people emotional? And of course, do you have enough money for a successful advertising campaign? All these are qualities that can be exploited while using advertising to promote your business.
Selecting a message to communicate and determining the media to use in communicating it, are also predominant factors in managing an advertising program. According to Anderson & Vincze (2000), “a media plan should be based on an understanding of the objectives for IMC [Integrated Marketing Communication] and how consumers, users, and purchase influencers receive information.”
A plan targeting magazines, for instance, can use the high specialization of some magazines to increase their advertising power. But who are the market you’re looking for? Without adequate research into consumer markets, how will you understand and manage promotional objectives?
Many companies today have chosen to rely heavily on research and data, some you might not have thought of. Many supermarkets, for example, live by discount programs that allow your every shopping detail, from times you shop and products you buy, to what you pay with, to be monitored and tabulated for later use. Do you think MasterCard would like to know this information? How about the actual supermarket product manufacturer? Do you think it would help them design commercials highly targeted to their prime customers? A goldmine!
Not all consumers are happy with such tactics. When one man’s local market began using a bar-code scanner card to give discounts, he said “Ã¢Â?Â¦their cashiers are in my face every time I shop, warning me that all sale prices henceforth will be tied to the card, and I better get with it” (Sullivan, 2000).
This sort of strong-handed practice is not recommended by the author, and research by any company should never subvert the underlying goals of the company, which, according to Theodore Levitt in his 1975 article on Marketing Myopia, should rest in the ultimate consumer.
Branding is another advertising strategy that requires some management. “When it comes to brands, familiarity breeds loyalty, not contempt, as consumers come to trust a recognized message or logo, whether it be the tag on Cannon towels or Pepsi’s ‘Joy of Cola’ jingle” (Howell, 2000).
Many of the same things that determine a good advertising campaign come into play, such as differences, and the right message for your target market. . When these aspects are outstanding, branding happens.
What if people knew your company so well, they thought you were best at things you didn’t even do? “Debbie Lee Yohn, Sony’s director of corporation branding and consumer branding, said she wasn’t surprised [a] survey showed Sony’s brand power transcended its product offerings,” when a Consumer Electronics poll was shown to her (Howell, 2000).
Direct selling, is another form of promotion. It can happen before, or even during the sale, as a salesperson pitches the features and benefits of his company and product/service. “Catalogs and telephone marketing were the two primary means of direct marketing until 1994, when marketing via the World Wide Web began” (Anderson & Vincze, 2000).
Now, of course, millions of people are pitched everyday in countless ways. When you log on to America Online’s internet service, you are immediately presented with a pop up ad. Some may not consider this a prime example of direct selling, but let’s not put blinders on an idea that has made its own share of millionaires and successful businessmen. I do consider it direct since you have to physically click on the ad to get it to go away and continue to do what you want. If you click in the ad, you’ve said yes, but if you close it, you’ve said no.
Not long ago, I was woken in the middle of the night to the sound of my cell phone. It was a simple little text message ad. I was horrified, but later informed that companies had just won the right in court to spam you on your cell phone. I immediately turned off the text-based messaging function.
Direct marketing can have a tendency to be too invasive for many consumers. It’s simply done so much, that consumers have gotten tired of it and consider it to be rude. This doesn’t stop the use of such tactics, however, and it can be highly successful. Such a program should either be solicited, or done on such a large, inexpensive scale the few sales will make up for the thousands of “hang-ups”.
Seminars and trade shows are another great way of promoting your business. The simple act of getting your name out to prospective clients and suppliers is one type of promotion you’ll suffer without. My company regularly attends trade shows and conferences as well as touring manufacturing facilities. This is where we network with mill representatives, find installers, and even gather up some great prospects. Don’t be afraid to hold your own seminars and free clinics as well. It’s a great way to sell the services of your company and educate potential clients and associates.
Probably one of the biggest decisions a company will face today is whether or not to promote their business on the World Wide Web. Few businesses can compete today without some semblance of a web page, even if simply a static page with other contact info.
Companies must decide on how much and what type of promotion to do on the Internet. Will you have a full-fledged storefront, able to process complete orders and handle customer service issues, etc., or a mere graphic “mini-movie” for customers to see and remember you by? Think of all the marketing data you could gather with every “hit”.
A big source of further promotion on the web are links. Links are basically ads on other businesses web sites, but these ads do something special; they take customers with the click of a button to your web site. Links can multiply your number of site hits exponentially.
Promotion on the web has taken on some unique and new twists. Adult sites consistently push the envelope with various pop up ads and un-closeable windows; all sorts of tricky new gimmicks to lure in meal tickets. While these annoying tactics may be too much for mainstream business, many of the techniques developed can be used in innovative ways that will capture the market you’re aiming for.
Simple things such as contests, coupons, and samples are all devices to promote your business.
Sponsorship is another type of promotion where an organization pays to be associated with a particular event, cause or image. Companies will sponsor sporting events such as the Olympics or the NBA. The qualities of the event are then associated with the sponsor.
This “win-win” situation has been promoting businesses on small town Little League fences for many, many years. It has also championed goods like soda, and maybe much more strangely, life insurance.
Public Relations is usually something that isn’t thought of until you’ve had quite a successful campaign, or just invented the Cabbage Patch Kids. It can be a surprise to some, but should be a planned and sustained effort to create understanding between an organization and society in general.
The costs of public relations can vary substantially. Successful strategies tend to be long-term and encompass future possibilities. These should readily include disastersÃ¢Â?Â¦like lawsuits. The pre-planned public relations team can then gear up very quickly with an effective plan.
As you can see there are many possible ways to promote your business. All require different levels of effort and are certainly varied in costs. Using as many of these tools as possible can increase the exposure of your business many times over. Without some, your business can flounder and die.
The level of commitment you will need is complex and based on factors such as the current popularity of your product or service, the level of promotional marketing your competitors use, and the capital you have at hand, among other things.
Remember, promotion is one of the 4 P’s, so the marketing of your business will depend on it. It’s simply a matter of whether you want to be or not to be noticed.
Anderson, C. H., & Vincze, J. W. (2000). Strategic Marketing Management. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Gurley, J.W. (1997). Marketing myopia: Is a software company a software company? Retrieved on September 13, 2002 from http://news.com.com/2010-1072-281042.html
Howell, D. (2000). The Hallmarks of Familiarity. Retrieved on September 03, 2002 from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0FNP/20_39/68706284/p1/article.jhtml?term=marketing
Landry, M. (2000). Beyond Marketing Myopia: The Service of Small Railroads. Retrieved on September 14, 2002 from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1038/6_43/67879636/p1/article.jhtml?term=marketing+myopia
Rhoda, R.R. (1999). How to Raise Your Profile. Retrieved on September 15, 2002 from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1318/5_53/54432797/p1/article.jhtml?term=marketing
Sullivan, J. (2000). Forget the Product! All That Matters Is That You Know They Want It. Retrieved on September 10, 2002 from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0BUK/38_18/65482594/p1/article.jhtml?term=marketing