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Business battle fiercely, making an enormous variety of products to meet different customers’ needs. In many businesses, promotion is the key to a new product success. Promotion is any technique designed to sell a product to a customer. To sell a product, promotional techniques must communicate the uses, features, & benefits of the product. Here we will look at different reasons for & approaches to promotion, When & why companies use particular tools & strategies, & the special promotional problems & solutions of small business.

Promotional Objectives, Strategies, & Tolls

In developing a promotional plan, marketers must consider the company’s basic promotional objectives. They must develop promotional strategies to reach those objectives. Then, as a part of their strategies, they must choose among various promotional tools that may be used alone or in combination

Promotional Objectives

You may think that the ultimate objective of any type of promotion is to increase sales. You’re right. After all, the goal of any business is to make money, & companies make money by making sales. However, marketers also use promotion to communicate information, position products, & control sales volume.

Communication of Information.

A very basic objective of promotion is to communicate information from one person or organization to another. Consumers cannot buy a product unless they have been informed about it.

Information may advise customers about the availability of a product. It may educate them on the latest technological advances. Or it may announce the candidacy of someone running for a government office.

Information may be communicated in writing (newspapers & magazines) It may be communicated verbally (in person or over the telephone) Or it may be communicated visually (television, a match book cover, or a billboard). Today, the communication of information regarding a company’s products or services is so important that markets try to place it wherever consumers may be.

Product Positioning.

Another objective of promotion, Product Positioning, is to establish an easily

identifiable image of a product in the minds of consumers. For example, by selling only in

department stores, Lauder products have positioned themselves as more upscale than cosmetics sold in drugstores. Given all the brands & trademarks in the marketplace, it is impossible for an individual to remember each one. Therefore, marketers seek a unique position in buyer’s minds.

Positioning a product is difficult because the company is trying to appeal to a specific segment of the market rather than to the market as a whole. First, the company must identify which segments of a market could would be likely purchasers of its product & who is competitors are. Only then can it focus its promotional strategy on differentiating its product from the competition’s, while appealing to its target audience.

Controlling Sales Volume.

Another objective of promotions is sales volume control. Many companies such as Hallmark Cards, experience seasonal sales patterns. By increasing its promotional activities in slow periods, the firm can achieve a more stable sales volume throughout the year. As a result, it can keep its production & distribution systems running evenly. Promotions can even turn slow seasons into peak sales periods. For example, greeting card companies & florists together have done much to create Grandparents’ day.The result has been increased consumer desire to send cards & flowers to older relatives in the middle of what was a dry for these industries.

Promotional Strategies

Once a firm’s promotional objectives are clear, it must develop a promotional strategy to achieve these objectives. Promotional strategies may be of the push or pull variety. A company with a Push strategy will aggressively push its product through wholesalers & retailers, who persuade customers to buy it. In contrast, a company with Pull strategy appeals directly to customers who demand the product from retailers, who in turn demand the product from wholesalers.

Makers from industrial products most often use a Push strategy And makers of consumer products most often use a Pull strategy. Many large firms use a combination of the two strategies. For example, General Foods uses advertising to create consumer demand(pull) for its cereals. It also pushes wholesalers & retailers to stoke these products. Once the promotional strategy has been determined, it guides the company’s choice of promotional objectives & the types of promotional communicational tools that will be used.

Picking the Right Tools for the Promotional Mix

Based on these strategies, the firm must select the right promotional tools. There are four basis types of promotional tools: Advertising, Personal selling, Sales promotions, & Publicity & Public relations.

The best combination of these tools-the best promotional mix - depends on many

factors. The company’s product, the costs of different tools versus the promotional budget, & characteristics in the target audience all play a role.

The product. The nature of the product being promoted affect the mix greatly. For example, advertising can reach a large number of widely dispersed consumers. Thus it is used by makers of products that might be purchased by anyone, like sunglasses, radios & snack foods. Companies introducing new products also favor advertising because it reaches a large number of people very quickly & can repeat a message many times. Personal selling, on the other hand, is important when the product appeals to a very specific audience, such as piping or pressure gauges for industrial accounts.

Cost of the Tolls. The cost of communication tools is also important. Because personal selling is an expensive communicational tool, it is most appropriate in marketing high-priced goods like computers for industrial customers & homes for consumers. In contrast, advertising reaches more customers per dollar spent.

A promotional mix that is good for one company is not really good for another. For example, Frito -Lay can afford to spend millions of dollars on advertising & consumer promotions to promote Ruffles Cajun Spice potato chips nationally. But Zapps Potato Chips of Gramercy, Louisiana, the innovator in Cajun flavor potato chips, must rely on personal selling & publicity to promote its Cajun Craw-taters locally.

Promotion & the Buyer Decision Process. Another consideration in establishing the promotional mix is the stage of the buyer decision process that customers are in. Customers must first recognize the need to make a purchase. At these stage marketers need to make sure the buyer is aware that their products exist. Thus, advertising & publicity, which can reach a large number of people very quickly, are very important.

At the next stage, customers want to learn more about possible products. Advertising & personal selling are important because they both can be used to educate the customer about the product.

During the third stage, customers will evaluate & compare competing products. Personal selling is vital at this point because sales representatives can demonstrate their product’s quality & performance in direct relation to the competition’s product.

Next, customers decide ton a specific product & purchase it. Sales promotion is effective at these stage because it can give consumers an incentive to buy. Personal selling can also help by bringing the product to convenient location for the consumer.

Finally, consumers evaluate the product after buying it. Advertising, or even personal selling, is sometimes used after the sale to remind consumers that they made wise & prudent purchases.

Advertising Promotions

Advertising Strategies

Advertising strategies most often depend on which stage of the product life cycle their product is in. During the introduction stage, Informative Advertising can help develop an awareness of the company & its product among buyers & can establish a primary demand for the product. For example, when a new textbook is being published, instructors receive direct-mail advertisements notifying them of the book’s contents & availability.

As products become established, advertising stages must change. During the growth stage, Persuasive Advertising can influence customers to buy the company’s products, not those of its rivals. For example, during its growth stage, Advil used this approach to attract buyers of Tylenol & other pain relievers. Persuasive advertising is also important during the maturity stage to maintain the product’s level of sales. In addition, Comparative Advertising may help to steal sales away from the competition. After proclaiming that «most people in Ford country drive Chevy pickups», the ad then discusses specific features of the two brands, in a classic example of the comparison approach.

Finally, during the latter part of the maturity stage and all of the decline stage, Reminder Advertising keeps the product’s name on the tip of the consumer’s lips. And so Atari continues to advertise its home video games, even though attention has shifted over to a newer competitor, Nintendo.

Whatever the product’s life cycle stage, advertising strategies must consider timing. Should the organization advertise throughout the year on a continual basis, or seasonally? Companies such as commercial banks space ads evenly throughout a year.

Advertising Media

In developing advertising strategies, marketers must also consider the best

Advertising Medium for their message. IBM, for example, uses television ads to keep its name fresh in consumers’ minds. But it uses newspaper & magazine ads to educate consumers on the product’s abilities & trade publication to introduce new software. Each advertising medium has its own advantages & disadvantages.

Newspapers. Newspapers are the most widely used advertising medium, accounting for about 27 % of all advertising expenditures. Newspapers offer excellent coverage, since each local market has at least the daily newspaper & many people read the paper ever day(Like you are).This medium offers flexible, rapid coverage, since ads can change from day to day. It also offers believable coverage, since ads are presented side-by-side with news. However, newspapers are generally thrown out after one day, often cannot print in color, & have poor reproduction quality. Moreover newspapers don’t usually allow advertisers to target their audience very well.

Television. Television accounts for about 22% of all advertising expenditures. In addition to the major networks, cable television is becoming a major advertising medium. Cable ad revenues have increased from $58million in1980 to $1.4billion in1988, & are projected to be over $2billion by1990.

Television allows advertisers to combine sight, sound, & motion, thus appealing to almost all the viewer’s senses. National advertising is done on television because it reaches more people than any other medium.

One disadvantage of television is that there are too many commercials, causing viewers to confuse products. Most people for example, can’t recall whether a tire commercial was for Firestone, or Goodrich. Viewers of VCR tapes of shows often fast-forward past the ads. Another disadvantage, is that the normal «Commercial spot» lasts only a short time(usually 30sec), & then its gone. If the viewer is not paying attention, the impact of the commercial is lost. Brevity also makes television a poor medium in which to educate viewers about complex products. Finally television is the most expensive medium. A 30sec commercial during the Super Bowl costs about $750.000!

Direct Mail. Direct Mail advertisements account for 17% of all advertising expenditures. As the name implies, direct mail often involves fliers mailed directly to consumers’ homes or places of business. Direct Mail allows the company to select its audience & personalize the message. Consumers are also exposed to far less direct mail than to other advertising media. Moreover, although direct mail incurs the largest advance costs of any advertising technique, it also appears to have the highest cost effectiveness. These features have helped to make direct mail a fast-growing advertising medium.

Radio. About 7% of all advertising expenditures are for radio time. A tremendous number of people listen to the radio each day, and radio ads are very inexpensive. In addition, since most radio is programmed locally, this medium gives advertisers a high degree of customer selectivity. For example, radio stations are already segmented into listening categories such as rock & roll, country & western, jazz, talk shows, news & religious programming.

Like television however, radio ads are over quickly. And radio permits only an audio presentation. Also people tend to use the radio as a background while they’re

doing their things, paying little attention to the advertisements.

Magazines.Magazine advertising accounts for roughly 5% of all advertising. The many different magazines on the market provide a high level on consumer selectivity. Magazine advertising also allows for excellent reproduction of photographs & artwork that not only grabs buyer’s attention, but may also convince them on the product’s value. And magazines allow advertisers plenty of space for detailed product information Another advantage of magazines is that they have a long life & tend to be passed from person to person, thus doubling & tripling the number of exposures.

The problem with magazine advertising is that ads must be submitted well in advance to be included in a certain issue. Often there is no guarantee of where within a magazine in ad will appear. Naturally, a company would prefer to have its advertisement appear near the front of the magazine or within a feature article.

Outdoor. Outdoor advertising - billboards, signs, & advertising buses, taxis, & subways - makes up a little more than 1 % of all advertising. These advertisements are relatively inexpensive, they face little competition for customers’ attention, & they are subject to high repeat exposure. Unfortunately, companies have little control over who will see their advertisement.

Types of Advertising

Regardless of the media used, advertisements fall into one of several categories. Brand Advertising promotes a specific brand, such as Kodak126 film, Head & shoulders shampoo, & Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes. Advocacy Advertising promotes a particular candidate or viewpoint, as in ads for political candidates at electon time and antidrug commercials. Institutional Advertising promotes a fir’s long-term image, as when AT&T assures customers that it is ``the right choice.

Advertising to Specific Markets’

Advertisements also differ in to whom they are directed. That is, advertisement depend on the company’s target market. In consumer markets, local stores usually sponsor retail advertising to encourage consumers to visit the store & buy its products & services. Larger retailers use retail advertising on both a local & national level. Often retail advertising is actually cooperative advertising, with the cost of the advertising shared by the retailer & the manufacturer.

In industrial markets, to communicate with companies that distribute its products, some firms use trade advertising publications. And to reach the professional purchasing agent & managers at firm buying raw material or components, companies use industrial advertising.

Regulation of Advertising

Advertising affects nearly every American. Because it can be used to deceive as well as inform buyers, advertising has increasingly come under regulation. The first regulation of advertising activities came in1914. This act created the Federal Trade Commission to protect competition from unfair trade practices.

Members of the advertising industry also regulate themselves to some degree. Advertising media, including television networks & local stations magazines, & newspapers, decline ads they believe to be false or in poor test. And the National Advertising Review Board investigates complaints against national advertisers. If it finds in favor of the advertiser, chargers are dropped. If it finds in favor of the complaining party, then the advertiser must modify or withdraw its claim.

Personal Selling Promotions

Virtually everyone has engaged in some sort of sales activity. Perhaps you had a lemonade stand or sold candy for the drama club. Or you may have gone on a job interview - selling your abilities & service as an employee to the interviewers company.