Promotion and Advertising

4 min read

Promotion and Advertising

When you begin business school, one of the very first courses you will likely to be taught is the Principles of Marketing. During this course, you will be introduced to the Marketing Mix, which is a combination of the 5 elements that help a company attract customers. These 4 elements, known as the 4Ps, are product, price, place, and promotion. Today, we will be talking about the 4th element. Promotion essentially refers to any type of instant marketing communication that can be used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product or service. The aim of the promotion is to generate sales. Advertising and promotion are part of the marketing communications mix. The other three parts are- direct marketing, personal selling, and public relations.

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Promotion vs Advertising


In order to fully understand the difference between promotion and advertising, let us first define the two.

Definition of Advertising

Definition of Advertising

Advertising is an effective promotional tool to draw public attention towards your product or service. Each advertisement communicates a single message to a large audience. It is a more expensive process but takes less time. In order to use the technique of advertising to persuade potential customers to buy your product or service, there are various channels you must choose.

You can play your advertisement on television or radio, print it on newspapers and magazines, display it on billboards, pamphlets, and posters or even paste it on the surfaces of cabs, buses and walls. However, keep in mind that as most large companies attract potential customers mainly by advertising their products and services heavily, the cost of advertising is very high.

It is also difficult to come up with an innovative advertisement that will intrigue your audience because every consumer is inundated with ads. You will also have to be patient because advertisements have long run results. You will not get immediate ROI (Return on Investment).


How to Advertise

How to Advertise

Advertisements are meant to educate consumers. Companies generally pay to make and run advertisements because they want to gain exposure. In order to maximize their exposure, they have to determine who their target audience is, the media platform they should select and the marketing message they ought to convey. There are three phases of ad development and productions – ideate, create and run.

First, the ad designer must think about the product or service being advertised. How does this product or service solve a problem for someone? That should be the target demographic. Next, the ad designer must try to figure out the ideal customer.

What are the age, gender, personality, habits, and shopping behaviors of these consumers? Based on the above information, he must create an advertisement that makes the product or service look attractive to the target demographic. Lastly, they must decide how long the ad should run, a decision that will be based on the objective and cost of running the ad.


Definition of Promotion

Definition of Promotion

Promotion, on the other hand, refers to a set of activities that you can perform to communicate the merits of your product or service. The goal here is to persuade target customers to immediately try or buy your product.

Attract, induce and create awareness among people to initiate the purchase. Sales promotion is likely to result in an instantaneous sales boost because customers are more likely to instinctively buy a product when they see that it is being offered for free or at a reduced price.


How to Promote

How to Promote

In order to encourage trial or purchase of a product or service, you have to offer short-term incentives to consumers. Consumers love incentives. It makes them impulsively sign up for whatever you are offering. This is a great way to launch a new product or increase the purchase of one that isn’t doing so well.

There are two primary channels of promotions that you can use: trade/retail and consumer. Trade and retail promotion involve pushing the brand to consumers. You have to convince retailers to carry your product (by purchasing shelf space) and promote your brand.

You can do this by creating unique displays, starting a loyalty program or patronage awards, offering discounts and buy-back guarantees, price-offs, allowances, cash refunds, premiums, bundles, samples/trials/free goods, limited-time specialty items, rebates, deals on festivals and occasions, value-added services, or holding contests, games and giveaways. The objective is to at least get the consumer to try your product.


Pros of Advertising

Pros of Advertising

There are many benefits of advertising. It is the quickest and most efficient way to get the word out about your product and service. It can reach a very large audience indeed. Also, it can be run on versatile mediums, allowing you to really flex your creative muscles should you wish to.


Cons of Advertising

Cons of Advertising

Advertisements can also mislead consumers. It also raises the cost of products and services because advertising can be so expensive. Its effectiveness is also hard to measure. Moreover, there most consumers are constantly bombarded by many marketing messages and tend to “tune out” most advertisements as a result.

As you can see, there are cons of running ads as well that can sometimes even outweigh the pros, especially if you are small company that doesn’t have the marketing budget to compete with the advertising strategies of major players. Advertising has often been accused of misleading consumers. There have been many false advertising scandals that have cost companies millions.


Pros of Promotion

Pros of Promotion

Promotions are beneficial because they will convince consumers to immediately try or buy a product or service. It gets the product or service into the consumers’ hands. Sales promotions demonstrate how confident you are that a consumer will love the product or service that you are offering. Which also makes it a great marketing scheme. It creates urgency and gets a quick response from consumers.


Cons of Promotion

Cons of Promotion

Promotional advertising does not leave much scope for creativity. Competitors can easily copy their ideas. It is also costly because you are giving away products and services at a reduced price or for free. There is also a risk because the consumer just may end up hating the product or service and never becoming a customer. Which means the sales promotion was entirely wasted on them.

Moreover, once a consumer has paid a certain price for a product or service. They tend to believe that the reduced price they were given the product or service at is its actual value. They don’t want to pay more for it. This can also deter repeat purchases.


In conclusion, anyone who has not been to business school would operate under the impression that promotion and advertising are one and the same but these terms actually differ in several aspects. Advertising is a technique to build brand image while the promotion is a set of activities to boost short term sales. Both of them have the same goal, which is to induce potential customers to buy their product or service over a competitor’s product or service.

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