Within the limits of their budget, marketers have to find the optimal communications mix of advertising sales promotion, personal selling, and publicity, without neglecting the other elements of the marketing mix, i.e. the possibility of improving the product, lowering its price, or distributing it differently.
Every day we are bombarded by promotional messages. Each of these messages is part of a promotional strategy designed to inform, persuade, or influence us to purchase a good or a service. In order to accomplish the basic objectives of informing, persuading, and influencing, promotional strategies are developed to push or pull products through the marketing channels. A push strategy is a promotional effort that persuades middlemen to sell a product aggressively. This strategy relies heavily on personal selling to wholesalers and retailers, and attempts to influence them by providing promotional allowances for displays, special discounts, brochures, pamphlets, posters, and cooperative advertising, an arrangement whereby the manufacturer shares the cost of local advertising. This push strategy is especially important to companies competing in markets, such as food stores where shelf-space is very restricted.
An alternative strategy is the pull strategy, which is a promotional effort designed to stimulate consumer demand for products and services through the use of advertising and sales promotion. The idea is to persuade the ultimate consumer to request a specific product from retailers so that the middlemen will be forced to carry it. This strategy is commonly used for health care products, books, and records.
Positioning is a promotional strategy that focuses on specific market segments. Market research identifies the market segments that will most likely purchase a product; that product is then differentiated from the competition and promoted with the appropriate market image. Product differentiation is accomplished by distinguishing the characteristics of one product from another by such things as brand name, package, package design, capabilities, color, logo, taste, and price.
Sales promotion is defined by the American Marketing Association as "those marketing activities, other than personal selling, advertising, and publicity, that stimulate consumer purchasing and dealer effectiveness." These marketing activities include such supporting efforts as point-of-purchase displays and demonstrations, specialty advertising, premiums and trading stamps, coupons, contests, and trade shows and exhibits
Point-of"-Purchase (POP) Displays
Once consumers have entered a store, point-of-purchase displays, demonstrations, and other forms of visual merchandising can be very effective in making them aware of a product or reminding them of its existence. Studies have revealed that 64.8 percent of all consumer buying decisions are made at the point of purchase. These attractive displays are situated near the location where the purchase decision is made
POP displays can also take the form of windows, counters, walls, or hanging displays.
According to the Specialty Advertising Association International, specialty advertising is "useful articles of merchandise imprinted with an advertiser’s message and distributed without obligation to the recipient." The repeated exposure of the advertising message without added cost is just one of the major advantages of using specialty advertising. Imprinted calendars, for example, keep the advertiser's name before the client throughout the whole year.
Like advertising that uses the mass media, specialty advertising represents a target medium aimed at smaller target groups to solve specific internal or external client problems. Some basic marketing objectives of specialty advertising include: introducing new products and services, opening new accounts, building an image, motivating employees, and promoting new facilities.
Premiums and Trading Stamps
A premium is a piece of merchandise that is either offered to a consumer as a free gift or sold for a small sum to cover cost. This type of promotion is designed to encourage a change in consumers' purchasing behavior. Towels in boxes of laundry soap, toys in boxes of cereal, and the exchange of "premium" cigarette box tops for gifts are all examples of premiums. Banks often offer premiums to customers who open new accounts or deposit large sums of money.
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