The best way to define promotion is to say it is the general name given to forms of communication designed to reach a targeted audience with a certain message in order to achieve specific organizational objectives. Nearly all organizations, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, in all types of industries, must engage in some form of promotion. Such efforts may range from multinational firms spending large sums on securing high-profile celebrities to serve as corporate spokespersons to the owner of a one-person enterprise passing out business cards at a local businessperson’s meeting.
Like most marketing decisions, an effective promotional strategy requires the marketer understand how promotion fits with other pieces of the marketing puzzle (e.g., product, distribution, pricing, target markets). Consequently, promotion decisions should be made with an appreciation for how it affects other areas of the organization. For instance, running a major advertising campaign for a new product without first assuring there will be enough inventory to meet potential demand generated by the advertising would certainly not go over well with the company’s production department (not to mention other key company executives). Thus, marketers should not work in a vacuum when making promotion decisions. Rather, the overall success of a promotional strategy requires input from others in impacted functional areas.
In addition to coordinating general promotion decisions with other business areas, individual promotions must also work together. Under the concept of integrated marketing communication, marketers attempt to develop a unified promotional strategy involving the coordination of many different types of promotional techniques. The key idea for the marketer who employs several promotional options (we’ll discuss potential options later in this tutorial) to reach objectives for the product is to employ a consistent message across all options. For instance, salespeople will discuss the same benefits of a product as mentioned in television advertisements. In this way, no matter how customers are exposed to a marketer’s promotional efforts they all receive the same information.
Finally, as discussed below, promotion is not limited to the communication of product information to customers. Marketers also use promotional methods to communicate with others who are outside their target market.