So often, when someone is asked, “what is marketing,” the response is “advertising.” Marketing is so much more than just advertising! Marketing is about the four P’s: Price, Placement (Distribution), Product, and Promotion. There is a fifth P often that has emerged and that is People (Consumer). It is in the P of Promotion where there is advertising. The Promotional Mix includes: (1) advertising; (2) public relations; (3) sales promotions; (4) personal selling; and (5) social media.  Here is a look at the promotional mix components, some of the concepts associated with each, and clarification of differences.

  • Advertising is basically any form of traditional (print, OOH signage, broadcast) and non-traditional (digital). The distinction between traditional and non-traditional, however, is changed because digital is becoming more traditional, leaving non-traditional categorization to be redefined in some cases a direct marketing. Ad agencies promote companies and their offerings through “paid media” or advertisements and are different than PR agencies. Though advertising and ad agencies may seem rather straight forward in understanding in what they do, but the world of advertising is more complex than ever. Ad agencies create, plan, and manage all aspects of a client’s advertising.
  • Public Relations involves the function of evaluating the public’s opinion, attitudes, and perceptions and is focused on helping an organization earn public understanding and acceptance. PR firms help organizations communicate more effectively with their customers, suppliers, and other various stakeholders. PR agencies typically promote companies via editorial coverage through earned (free) media such as stories posted on websites, in newspapers, magazine, or in broadcast programs. PR agencies are hired to protect, enhance, or build an organization’s reputation through media.
  • Sales Promotions involves all marketing activities (other than advertising, PR, or personal selling) aimed at stimulating consumer purchasing—usually a short-term tool.
  • Personal Selling is a paid communication between two people aimed at one person persuading the other to do something. Today’s world of personal selling has evolved greatly into the concept of relationship selling. This form of selling is a type of sales technique that is about buyer interaction that is built on long-lasting relationships.
  • Social Media is part of the promotional mix as one tool that facilitates interaction among consumers and the brand.

There are other elements that often are included in the promotional mix. Some of these include Direct Marketing, which is selling products directly to the public by phone or email and Guerrilla Marketing, which is a form of non-traditional advertising. Guerrilla Marketing can come in the form of grassroots marketing, buzz marketing, viral marketing, experiential marketing, and undercover marketing, to name a few.  The approach is based on low-cost, unconventional marketing tactics.

As illustrated here, marketing is far more than just advertising.  The actual activity of advertising is just one component of the promotional mix.   Having consistent messages across the promotional platform is very important as well as recognizing the value of each element to a successful marketing initiative.

Written by Sabrina Pack, PCM