Promotion

The promotion element of the marketing mix refers to how marketing communications are used to inform customers and other stakeholders about an organisation and its products. This topic is discussed in more detail in Chapter 8 - it is only introduced here.

Promotion is the element of the marketing mix that is concerned with communicating the existence of products or services to a target market. Burnett (1993) defines it as:

the marketing function concerned with persuasively communicating to target audiences the components of the marketing program in order to facilitate exchange.

Promotion variable

The element of the marketing mix that involves communication with customers and other stakeholders to inform them about the product and the organisation.

A broader view of promotion is given by Wilmshurst (1993):

Promotion unfortunately has a range of meanings. It can be used to describe the marketing communications aspect of the marketing mix or, more narrowly, as in sales promotion. In its very broad sense it includes the personal methods of communications, such as face to face or telephone selling, as well as the impersonal ones such as advertising. When we use a range of different types of promotion - direct mail, exhibitions, publicity etc. we describe it as the promotional mix.

The main elements of the promotional or communications mix can be considered to be (as stated by, for example, Fill (2000)):

1 advertising;

2 sales promotion;

3 personal selling;

4 public relations;

5 direct marketing.

Specification of the Promotion element of the mix is usually part of a communications strategy. This will include selection of target markets, positioning and integration of different communications tools. The Internet offers a new, additional marketing communications channel to inform customers of the benefits of a product and assist in the buying decision. These are different approaches for looking at how the Internet can be used to vary the Promotion element of the mix:

1 reviewing new ways of applying each of the elements of the communications mix such as advertising, sales promotions, PR and direct marketing;

2 assessing how the Internet can be used at different stages of the buying process;

3 using promotional tools to assist in different stages of customer relationship management from customer acquisition to retention. In a web context this includes gaining initial visitors to the site and gaining repeat visits through these types of communications techniques:

• reminders in traditional media campaigns why a site is worth visiting, such as online services and unique online offers and competitions;

• direct e-mail reminders of site proposition - new offers;

• frequently updated content including promotional offers or information that helps your customer do their job or reminds them to visit.

The Promotion element of a marketing plan also requires three important decisions about investment for the online promotion or the online communications mix:

1 Investment in site promotion compared to site creation and maintenance. Since there is often a fixed budget for site creation, maintenance and promotion, the e-marketing plan should specify the budget for each to ensure there is a sensible balance and the promotion of the site is not underfunded.

2 Investment in online promotion techniques in comparison to offline promotion. A balance must be struck between these techniques. Typically, offline promotion investment often exceeds that for online promotion investment. For existing companies traditional media such as print are used to advertise the sites, while print and TV will also be widely used by dot-com companies to drive traffic to their sites.

3 Investment in different online promotion techniques. For example, how much should be paid for banner advertising as against online PR about online presence, and how much for search engine registration?

These issues are explored further in Chapter 8.

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