Promotions: Marketing and Sales 8.1. Promoting Your Company, Product, or Service

When you hear the word “marketing,” what comes to mind?

“Advertising,” you might say. “Selling.” “Public relations.”

Yes, but not quite. Marketing comprises far more than “advertising” and “selling,” which are only one part of a business’ marketing functions. Marketing is, in fact, the engine that drives almost every business and it consumes a significant chunk of business activity. Some businesses, like Nike, are almost entirely marketing businesses.

Marketing is a complex and difficult aspect of your business that comprises far more than promoting or selling. It’s the core of your business and has the following four components:


The single most important aspect of marketing is the product or service you’re offering. If you make a product people want, you cruise your way to success. If your product or service is not something that people want come hell or high water, all the advertising and public relations in the world may not help you.


Pricing is an arcane art that involves setting a competitive price for your product that balances volume (revenue) with profit. Pricing is the single greatest challenge in marketing and can involve immensely complex and difficult tactics.


Your service or product has to be offered “somewhere”: in a store, on a supermarket shelf, at a lemonade stand on the sidewalk, or on the Web. Placement is, like everything else in marketing, a complex art that balances maximum exposure to your customers with the kind of money you have to spend.


Promotions consist of everything you normally think of as marketing: advertising, packaging, public relations, Web site, email, product placements, and so on. Promotions make your customers aware of your products and services and, if done right, convince them that they really want to throw money at you just to get their hands on these products and services.

Called the Four P’s (product, pricing, placement, promotions), these make up the fundamental building blocks of marketing. Properly speaking, they are not separate and distinct but rather work in tandem to make you tons of money or, if you get part or all of them wrong, can leave you with an empty bank account.

We have dealt with price, product, and placement in previous chapters. In this chapter, we will only focus on promotions. Promotions are the one area where you are truly only limited by your imagination and cleverness. As someone who’s been in the promotions business for a mighty long spell now, if there’s some way to promote a product, someone will think it up.

You have literally thousands, maybe millions, of ways to promote your product, but they fall under nine general categories: media advertising, outdoor advertising, direct response (one-on-one), Web, partnerships, point-of-sale, public relations, guerilla marketing, and sales.

  • Media advertising
    • Television advertising
    • Print advertising (magazines, newspapers)
    • Theatre advertising
    • Yellow Pages, etc.
  • Outdoor
  • One-on-one or direct response advertising
    • Direct mail
    • Email
    • Catalogs (both mailed and online)
    • Coupon marketing
    • Television infomercials
    • Windshield/distributed fliers
    • Database and personalized marketing, etc.
  • Web marketing
    • Web site
    • Search engine marketing (SEM)
    • Banner advertising
    • Link exchanges
    • Online affiliate marketing
    • Pay-per-click advertising
    • Social network profiles
    • Online video
    • Auctions, etc.
  • Partnerships
    • Retailers
    • Strategic partnerships
    • Partner promotions
    • Product bundling
    • Cross-promotions
    • Product placements, etc.
  • Point-of-sale
    • Packaging
    • In-package materials
    • Store displays
    • Store signage
    • Retail shelf placement
  • Public relations
    • Media coverage
    • Blogging
    • Articles
    • Reviews
    • Buzz-building
    • Social networking
  • Guerilla marketing
    • Online games
    • Downloadable video
    • Viral email
    • “Phony” Web sites
    • Social network profiles
    • Online forum or blog “plants”
    • Non-traditional advertising
    • Product “parking”
  • Sales
    • Lead generation
    • Sales cycle management
    • Customer relationship management (CRM)
    • Customer service
    • In-store demonstrations
    • Presentations
    • Trade shows/conferences
    • Exhibits
    • Brand ambassadors
    • Customer advocacy
    • Gifts
    • Loyalty programs

This is a pretty big pile of stuff to wrap your mind around!

The key to promotions is integration (usually called integrated marketing or integrated advertising). Small business entrepreneurs often approach promotions as if they were picking salt water taffy out of barrels. “Let’s advertise here and start a blog over there and send a coupon and call a bunch of people on this list and build a Web site.” They scatter their promotions based on what sounds good rather than integrate them into one effective package. An integrated advertising plan is like a perfect storm: the whole produces more than the sum of their parts.

Integration frequently starts with determining a “center” to your promotion strategy. What promotions venue can most effectively raise awareness and interest within your budget? If you had to choose one and only one way to promote your product, what would it be? Once you’ve answered that question, then you can figure out how other promotions can help this centralized strategy.

For instance, if you decide that search engine marketing―working to place your product or Web site at the top of search engine results for certain keywords―is the best and cheapest way to build awareness and sales, then you want to choose other elements that contribute substantially to that strategy. Obviously, television and print advertising will not help much since they only minimally affect search engine rankings. Rather, you’re going to emphasize banner advertising, pay-per-click advertising, strategic partnerships, affiliate marketing, guerilla marketing, and link management over everything else.

You have two goals in your promotions:

  • You want to make people aware of your company, product, or service.
  • You want create a certain defined perception of your company, product, or service that produces an intent to purchase.

That’s it. Those two words are what promoting is all about. Awareness. Intent.

The whole process of creating awareness and instilling in people a perception of what you or your product is about is called branding.

Branding begins with determining as precisely as possible the “perception” you want people to have about your company or your product. The first step is to create a position for your company or product―a position is typically stated in a single sentence. Positioning formally defines the perception you want people to have when they see or hear about your “brand,” which can either be the name of your company (like Nike) or the name of your product or service (like Air Jordan). You’re looking for a position, a way of thinking about your product, such that if other people thought exactly the same way about your product, then they would gladly part with their hard-earned dollars just to get their mitts on it.

Once you have a position, you need to determine what message best conveys that position. Messaging is how you communicate a position to your audience that effectively convinces them to adopt that position. Once you’ve got messaging nailed, it will serve as the foundation for all your promotions―advertising, Web marketing, packaging, viral marketing, and so on. Wherever your promotions appear, there’s your message. Over and over again until your audience has fully assimilated it.

This is what a “message” looks like.

Ford Trucks. Built Ford tough.

Here’s another one.

Wal*Mart. Lowest prices everyday.

Now switch them. How about “Ford Trucks: Lowest prices everyday.” Different message, different position. Makes you want to run out and buy a Chevrolet, doesn’t it? How about: “Wal*Mart. Built tough.” Different message, different position, and definitely an appeal to a different audience.

If the message does not fit the position, people get the wrong idea.

The more effectively you promote your product, the more people will incorporate your positioning into their perceptions and be motivated to buy your product based on these perceptions. When you can boast that a certain number of people think about your product or company the way you want them to think about it, then you’ve acquired brand equity and have an asset that has a real monetary value. Why are people willing to go out and buy a Ford F-150 rather than some other brand of truck? Because they think Ford trucks are tough, a perception which the parent company, Ford, has spent billions of dollars trying cram into everybody’s head. And the more people like you think of Ford trucks as tough, the more dollars you’re willing to part with in order to own one. That’s what we mean by brand equity.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again. This is a pretty big pile of stuff to wrap your head around.

But you must master it either intellectually or intuitively if you want the money conveyor belt to start pumping those dollars through your door. Chances are, you weren’t a marketing genius in your previous incarnation. So you can start getting your head around the subject by rooting around in our general marketing resources. If you had to actually go out and buy these resources as books or classes, your bank account would be lighter by tens of thousands of dollars. Remember: marketing is the engine that drives your business. If I were you, I would make these resources bookmarks and work through them on a regular basis.

8.1.1. American Marketing Association

The American Marketing Association, along with the Direct Marketing Association, is the powerhouse professional organization for marketers and they run the grand-daddy of all marketing sites. The AMA site offers what could be the richest repository of current materials, practices, and thoughts on contemporary marketing and branding. This is the place to start as you begin to craft your marketing strategy.

Best Practices Articles. The AMA provides limited but potentially valuable articles on best practices in

  • Advertising
  • B2B marketing
  • Consumer promotions
  • Database direct marketing
  • Internet marketing
  • Media
  • Marketing research
  • Marketing strategy
  • New product development
  • Public relations
  • Sales
  • Small business marketing

Case studies. The AMA’s case studies concentrate largely on corporate marketing, but many provide valuable ideas to entrepreneurs and small businesses in branding, global marketing, return on investment, and new products.

News. The AMA publishes several professional magazines and makes past issues available for free on its Web site:

  • Marketing News―general articles and news on marketing trends and innovations.
  • Marketing Research―articles on best practices and trends in market research
  • Marketing Management―designed for mid- and senior-level corporate marketing managers

Articles. The site also includes articles, reports, and a dictionary of marketing terms. These cutting edge articles represent the best current practices and thinking in marketing―a discipline that’s constantly on the move. In marketing as in technology, anything you learn today is already obsolete. Before you start any marketing endeavor, whether it’s branding your products, starting a direct marketing campaign, or porting your marketing into cyberspace, you should browse these articles for ideas.

Books. The site allows you to purchase AMA-produced books on basic marketing topics such as Marketing Fundamentals, Strategic Marketing, or Marketing Effort.

Directory. Finally, the site includes an invaluable marketing services directory listing companies and AMA members who specialize in

  • Consulting
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Direct marketing
  • Focus groups
  • General marketing
  • Interactive marketing
  • International research
  • Market research
  • Multicultural marketing

8.1.2. 12Manage: Marketing

12Manage (pronounced “one-two-manage”) is one of many buried treasures chests on the Web. The site provides rich, valuable general business resources intended for middle and senior managers on topics such as organization change, leadership, communication, decision-making, ethics, finance, investment, human resources, program management, and knowledge management. Although aimed at corporate managers, the marketing section provides must-read resources as you contemplate, develop, and grow your offline and online marketing tactics. It’s like the Cliff’s Notes version of an MBA in marketing.

The articles are blessedly short and cover all the marketing fundamentals formulated by the gurus of marketing over the last three decades. If you don’t understand positioning, for instance, you can read a short summary of positioning by two of the recognized contemporary masters of branding, Jack Trout and Al Riess. If you’re trying to figure out how to market your product over several years, you can consult a lengthy excerpt by the guy who first figured out how to market products over their “life cycles,” the renowned Arthur Levitt.

All told, the marketing section constitutes the closest thing the Web has to offer to a canonical “bible” of marketing. Must-read―and I mean must-read, don’t leave home without them―articles by the greatest lights of the marketing world include:

  • “Brand Personality,” explaining David Aaker’s basic branding framework
  • “The Five Forces” and “Competitive Advantage Framework” which explain the marketing strategy work of Larry Porter―every corporation in the world uses Porter’s Five Forces every day to make marketing and strategy decisions―there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
  • “Hierarchy of Needs” explaining the most important and most universally applied marketing model developed by Abraham Maslow. If you want to get your promotions right, you should memorize this article.
  • “Cultural Dimensions” explaining Geert Hofstede’s approach to marketing to different cultures
  • “SWOT Analysis” which explains analyzing your company and product offerings in terms of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. All big business marketing always proceeds from a SWOT exercise. Do you get that? All. Always.
  • “3Cs Model” explains another fundamental of marketing (as important and universal as the Four P’s explained above). Developed by Kenichi Ohmae, considered by most to be one of the gods of 20th century marketing, 3C’s (company, competition, and customer) is, like a SWOT analysis, the basic starting point of any marketing strategy.

These short entries show you how the big kids play in the sandbox. If, after reading these articles, you can sit down and construct a five forces analysis, a SWOT, and a 3C’s, you’re well on your way to building a marketing program that works.

8.1.3. Marketing Profs

Marketing Profs is an online magazine publishing current news, articles, and tutorials on a wide range of marketing topics. While geared to marketing managers of medium- to large-sized businesses (of course), it’s an easy way to come up to speed on what is working in the marketing world.

Marketing Profs offers perhaps the richest set of marketing articles and case studies available on the Web―you are bound to find what you need in terms of tutorials, good ideas, or current trends across a veritable hogpile of topics:

  • Advertising
  • Brand management
  • Customer behavior
  • Customer relationship management
  • Direct marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Market research
  • Metrics and ROI
  • Pricing
  • Public relations
  • Sales
  • Search engine marketing
  • Segmentation
  • Strategy
  • Web sites
  • Word-of-mouth

While articles are available to the general public, case studies and marketing toolbox articles are only available to premium members ($50 per year). The site also includes some general and specialized Webinars that average about $100 each on topics ranging from public relations to total marketing for small businesses.

8.1.4. Entrepreneur Magazine: Small Business Marketing and Advertising

All the major online magazines covered in our first chapter, such as Business Week, Inc., and Entrepreneur, offer generous libraries in marketing and promotions topics. Entrepreneur Magazine online, however, provides what we feel to be the most valuable resources for marketing a small or start-up business.

Must-read resources include

  • Guides to marketing success
  • Cheapskate marketing ideas
  • Low Cost Marketing Trends for 2007
  • 10 Marketing Tactics Under $10

We find Entrepreneur’s articles on advertising particularly wonderful. Common-sensical, practical, and simple, these articles will help you navigate the complexities of creating ads.

8.1.5. Marketing Sherpa

We have endeavored throughout this book to provide you with ultra low cost or free resources, but here we make an exception. Marketing Sherpa, a well-kept secret in the marketing world, is a money vault of innovation, best practices, and marketing genius for our modern wired world. One of the authors of this book has been using the resources on this site for dozens of customers over the past four years―not once has the money spent on these resources been wasted. The non-free resources, however, are going to put quite a ding in your wallet, so you may want to choose your tidbits wisely.

Free articles offered on the site deal with very specific advertising, marketing, interactive advertising, public relations, and sales topics. For instance, you won’t find general articles on public relations. Rather, you’ll find articles like “How to Get Covered in Entrepreneur Magazine” or “How to be a Featured Guest on the David Lawrence Show.” These are tactical rather than strategic articles, but the information is priceless, making this a prime bookmark site after you’ve formulated your overall marketing strategy.

In addition to the free articles, the site offers custom publications across the entire range of marketing topics. These books can set you back a bit―ranging from $80 to $200―but if you choose correctly, you can gain priceless intelligence in a particular area. The site offers publications in

  • Advertising
  • Benchmarks and metrics
  • B2B marketing
  • Consumer marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Email marketing
  • eRetail
  • Market research
  • Public relations
  • Search engine marketing
  • Summits
  • Web site technology


Promotions and marketing for your company is essential to a successful business,taking advantage of things like promotional items like coffee cups or promotional water bottles can be a great way to help boost your brand.

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2 Responses to “Promotions: Marketing and Sales 8.1. Promoting Your Company, Product, or Service”

  1. hi hey thanks for the info i found here , i like what i found im going to start a business and you have lots of what i want thanks … feel free to e-mail


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