|Modern marketing calls for more than just developing a good product, pricing it attractively, and making it available to target customers. Companies must also communicate with their customers and there should be controlled direction to those communications. Promotion provides the primary communication function. As one of the four major elements of the marketing mix, promotion uses advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing to achieve the company’s communication objectives.
There is a need for developing effective integrated marketing communications. Marketers know that as mass markets have fragmented, a shift is underway away from mass marketing. In addition, vast improvements in information technology has sped the movement toward segmented marketing. The result of these two trends is that companies must now blend promotional elements into an integrated marketing communications mix that carefully coordinates all the elements of the promotion.
Advertising is any paid form of nonpersonal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, and services by an identified sponsor. There are five important tasks to be accomplished as the marketer attempts to organize and direct the advertising function, including setting objectives, budget decisions, message decisions, media decisions, and campaign evaluation. The marketing firm can undertake the advertising function themselves or they can contract with an advertising agency to accomplish their advertising objective, planning, and implementation.
Public relations is an attempt to build good relations with the company’s various publics by obtaining favorable publicity, building up a good “corporate image,” and handling or heading off unfavorable rumors, stories, or events. The organization has a variety of tools at their disposal for accomplishing this feat. One of the overriding tasks of public relations is to control the exposure and relationship with the mass media. By focusing on consumer attitudes, awareness, and knowledge of the organization, the company is better prepared to succeed.
Robert Louis Stevenson once noted that “everyone lives by selling something.” Today, most companies use salespeople to bring their company’s offering to the consuming or business publics. The salesperson’s role is a key one in the organization. The high cost of maintaining a sales force means that management is especially interested in how to efficiently organize this vital element. Six basic steps or decisions are important to the sales management process. They are: designing sales force strategy and structure, recruiting and selecting salespeople, training salespeople, compensating salespeople, supervising salespeople, and evaluating salespeople.
As an element of the marketing mix, the salesforce is very effective in achieving certain marketing, communication, and promotion objectives. The formal steps in the selling process that aid the accomplishment of these objectives are prospecting and qualifying, preapproach, approach, presentation and demonstration, handling objections, closing, and follow-up. If the salesperson follows these steps, he or she is more likely to be viewed as a problem-solver rather than a hard-sell salesperson.
|Experimentation and Sampling Promotion and Strategy – Encouraging Experimentation
One of the biggest challenges for a new or recently updated product or brand is getting consumers to try it. Consumers are loyalists when it comes to their shopping habits. Finding a way to get a person to try a new product outside his or her comfort zone can be difficult, and multiple experimental approaches may be employed by the marketing and advertising teams to facilitate this switch. Integration of these different marketing tools into a streamlined process that adequately reaches the target audience while keeping costs low is referred to as integrated marketing communications (Drewniany and Jewler 276). Integrated marketing communications can include a very wide variety of techniques. The main concern with all of the different approaches is getting the consumer to try something new with the hope that he or she will make a permanent switch.
One of the most common techniques to facilitate this switch in consumer preference and generate new interest in a product or brand is sales promotion. There are many advantages to this type of approach. There is almost always a positive consumer response to sales promotions, which yields an increase in sales. So many different types of sales promotions exist that companies can usually target an exact consumer demographic by choosing the right type of promotion. For example, if a clothing company wants to generate return sales, they will choose a sales promotion that draws the consumer back after the initial purchase. One of the most popular examples of this type of marketing strategy is the reward dollar promotion. For every $50 spent, a $25 reward is earned. The reward cannot be used immediately and is only valid on a return visit during a specified time frame. This is an extremely effective sales promotion because it draws consumers in to buy items twice. The ultimate goal of this promotion is to create a loyal customer base; after two successful shopping trips, the consumer has experimented enough with the clothing to continue to shop this particular brand even at regular prices. This is only one type of sales promotion.
Research should point the advertising team to an effective promotional strategy for its particular product or brand. Properly executed promotional strategy should provide adequate information to the consumer, relate to the current advertisements for the product, and ultimately motivate consumers to purchase the product. Effective advertising should prepare the consumer laying the foundation of brand or product preference. If the advertising has been effective, when marketing researchers pinpoint an effective sales promotion strategy, consumers should feel motivated by the promotion and follow through with a purchase. Advertising has an extremely important role in the effectiveness of the promotional strategy. If advertisements fail to build a strong marketable image for the product, almost any promotional strategy employed will fail to increase sales (Lane, Kleppner, and Russell 443).
|Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement Advertising and the Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement
Advertising campaigns and how they are integrated with the overall marketing strategy is a very broad topic. Advertising is a subsection of the much larger marketing strategy. Comprehensive marketing strategies are complex and involve everything from finance and economics to consumer psychology and the law.
Generally, the first step in this integration is to look at the overall market conditions and ascertain whether or not the company is in a position to be competitive. In other words, for almost every product, the market provides many competing products and services that are all fighting for the same target market’s attention. From canned soup to airline travel, choices are abound.
Competitive advantage in any market comes from one of the several general areas. As a company, we may produce a product that is the cheapest alternative. We may decide that our advantage is that our product is different or better in some way, which allows us to charge a higher price. Our advantage may be found in our ability to focus on a very specific part of the market and serve it better than other firms. If we decide that we have one of these three competitive advantages, we will enter our product in the battle for a share of the market.
If we have never entered a market before, our next step is to design a product or service. If we already have a product or service, we may further tailor it to take advantage of our analysis of the target market. An analysis of the target market includes understanding what features and benefits the product should possess and how much the market is willing to pay for these features and benefits. Armed with this critical information, we are then able develop a new product or tailor an existing one to make it competitive.
A parallel issue is the price of a product or service. Price is better understood as what the target market is willing to give in exchange for the benefits that a product or service provides them. This is often described as the value of a product or service. It is a complex task to decide what a market values. Many products and services fail because the mix of features and benefits at a given price fail to meet the target market’s expectations better than the competition’s offer.
Another critical decision involves how to make the product or service accessible or available to the target market. This decision is integrated into the value that the target market desires. For example, some products are widely distributed because part of the value the market desires is quick access to this type of product—this is why candy vending machines are available in many places; when we want chocolate, we want it now, and the delivery systems are provided for us. On the other end of the spectrum, there may be a limited distribution of a product to increase its value to the market.
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