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To generate sales, companies first of all, have to develop brand awareness. Once that aim is attained, they have to maintain the image they were able to create. That is what promotion is used for. There are four promotional tools: advertising, sales promotions, public relations and personal selling. Companies have to decide which one to use and in what proportion since budgets are always limited.
Advertising informs consumers about the existence and benefits of products usually thanks to advertising agencies. It includes ads on magazines or at the cinema, commercials (radio or TV), sponsorship, classified ads, sandwich-board man, billboard, pay-per-view web advertising, PR stunts, prestige advertising (to build up a reputation), word-of-mouth advertising (people tell their friends about the product) and so on. Advertising allows companies to reach a lot of people and to choose their target market and the most appropriate media. Furthermore it is good for building awareness and customer trust. However it has disadvantages, and the most outstanding one is its enormous cost. It has legal restrictions (obviously companies cannot say whatever they want), it is impersonal, it does not answer the customer’s questions and it is not good at getting customers make a final purchasing decision.
Sales promotion such as free samples, coupons, price reductions, discounts for buying a large quantity, packets offering ‘20% extra’ and so on are temporary tactics designed to stimulate either earlier or stronger sales. Reduced-price packs for example are used to attract price-conscious brand-switchers and also to defy competitors. Sales promotion encourages retailers to stock larger quantities and off-season buying. It might evenly be designed to strengthen brand loyalty among retailers, or to gain entry to new markets. Consequently, it increases the demand in a short period of time but it is expensive and impersonal.
Public relations is concerned with maintaining or improving the image of a company or product. Publicity is its most important part, and it is any mention of a company’s product that is not paid for. Publicity has a huge impact on public awareness,(people believe more publicity than advertising) and it is free. But it is difficult to control and if it gets out of the company’s hands it can give a wrong impression.
Personal selling is the most expensive tool. It is generally used scarcely as a complement to advertising. Salespeople spread information about a company’s products and sell them, they assist customers with possible technical problems and what is more, they are an extremely important channel of information as they are often the only person from a company that customers see. And that is why they can tell the company the new ideas they have and suggestions for new products.

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