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Promotion is one of the primary elements used in the marketing mix. Thus, promotional efforts should work in harmony with product marketing, pricing, and distribution actions that target prospects and customers. When assembling a promotional plan, marketers typically employ one or more of the following five promotional subcategories: personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, and publicity (or public relations).
These communication tools serve as tactics within the promotional plan to accomplish objectives such as:
Increased market segmentation, information technologies, and digital communications have created new ways for promoting products across different media. Today, organizations can create online banner advertisements, social networking websites, blogs, and search engine optimization campaigns to promote their products and services. However, traditional promotional tools such as special events, celebrity endorsements, in-store coupons, and newspapers are also employed to entice customers to purchase goods. For example, retailers often use promotional tactics including discounts, store rebates, free items, contests, and other special offers to drive new sales and repeat purchases.
The promotional tools used to educate customers and generate sales vary depending on the organization's objective. Because public relations (PR) focuses on influencing and shaping public opinion, PR efforts are useful for building brand value and generating positive stories around products and services. Events, which often generate publicity, can serve long-term objectives for building partnerships with external stakeholders, strengthening customer loyalty and enhancing industry credibility.
However, organizations may choose to use short-term mechanisms such as sales promotions and coupons to generate immediate customer interest and revenue. Direct mailers or email newsletters further support these incentives to prompt customer action and purchases. Print, television, radio, and online advertising can be used to promote all of these activities and drive sales for the organization. These promotional tools are even more effective when built into an integrated marketing communicationstrategy, since all communications work together simultaneously to multiply consumers' exposure to brand messaging.