How Promotion for your Business Really Works

Promotion is a Team Effort:

Public Relations (PR) people often get asked to write a press release for a startup before the company has even sorted its 7P’s of Marketing. This is a problem because trying to get press to pickup your story when you don’t even fully understand who you are or what you want to achieve through the press rarely provides the kinds of big results bosses are hoping for.

In fact many entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that ‘marketing’ is only just ‘promotional activities’ but marketing is so much more. Promotion should not be the first element of the mix used, it should be the last activity executed only after all other Ps have been identified.

Let’s remind ourselves of the 7Ps:
Physical Evidence.

Marketing is as important to your startup as product development. Writing copy for your website or a press release should include information that comes from ALL the other Ps. It’s important to identify this info up-front so that each business area can refer to it and use it in their own departmental materials.

So if Promotion doesn’t equal Marketing what is it?

Promotion is one of the marketing mix elements. It refers to raising customer awareness of a product or service, generating sales, and creating brand loyalty. Promotion uses tools to put across a company’s message to the customer in a way that the customer would most like to get that information. These tools include PR, advertising, websites, social media and even business cards. The combination of advertising, PR, direct marketing, sales promotion and personal selling are often referred to as the ‘promotional mix’.

In Contemporary Marketing prominent academics Louis Boone and David Kurtz stated that there are three objectives to promotion:
1. To present information to consumers and others.
2. To increase demand.
3. To differentiate a product.

Marketers use more than one element of the promotional mix because communication does not necessarily create all its impact at once. Think of the promotional mix as a recipe — the elements are not interchangeable. A series of communications will move the recipient along from awareness to purchase.

Digital Technology means all Employees are doing Marketing now:

The facts you write about yourself should be consistent across your business — always. This means that when you document your values and create your vision and map your 7Ps they should be given to your team leaders in HR, Marketing, Sales, Finance, IT and so on. For example, HR will use these elements in their online job postings. Marketing will ensure that your web copy and social media platforms remain consistent. Sales will have this info in their pitch decks. Finance will use it in creating their invoicing materials. Weaving this information throughout your business also helps to create a customer aligned organization.

When startups ignore this, quite often, the organization is left completely out of alignment with itself and its customer. Different departments are all working off different pages. And worst of all, the wrong (but still very talented) people get hired. If you don’t know your values and just go out on a grab for talent but then later display certain values that don’t match that employee’s — you’ve got a problem on your hands and it is your fault — not your employee’s. If your recruiting materials from the start clearly state what you’re about, you’ll attract great candidates who share you values and believe in your vision. Those people not only have a greater chance of success at your company but they’ll probably stay with you longer too.

Promotional Mix Examples:

  • When a new product is launched, introducing customers to it and giving them ‘brand awareness’ will be achieved through advertising.
  • Once your target audience is aware of the new product, building knowledge will motivate them towards buying. This can be done through advertising and personal communications like e-mails.
  • A customer may decide to like the product from trying it (via a free trial or sales promotion), from reading positive articles about it (PR) or from advertising.

Important Tips about Public Relations (PR):

  • Journalists are interested only in newsworthy items, not in thinly disguised advertisements.
  • It is useful to invest in proper training for anyone who will have to engage with the media, especially TV.
  • PR will only help you publicize your good points, it can’t compensate for a bad product or service and it won’t give you what you have not got.
  • PR works best when used as a part of a strategy integrating activities.

Promotional Mix Points:

  • Advertising isn’t the only way to increase sales.
  • People will not read long or poorly written advertisements.
  • Artwork is more memorable than copy.
  • Video is increasingly popular and effective.
  • Selling is about meeting your customer’s needs with a suitable product/service from your range.
  • Participating as a Sponsor tends to have strong positive effects on both brand and corporate image. For example, events are a popular way to leverage Sponsorships.

De-risking Marketing Assumptions:

You don’t have a business if you don’t have customers. Since customers are so important, the marketing assumptions you make in your marketing plans should be the first you de-risk. This is done by reviewing materials and campaigns and measuring them on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you set. Reviewing (marketing science) is important to do because you can’t grow a business without knowing how you will land new customers. For example you might discover that the cost of reaching your target market using a specific channel is astronomical. If that is the case the earlier you explore your assumptions the more options you have to adapt and increase your chance of success.

Ready to Run a Press Campaign?:

Now that you’ve got your promotional mix together you can read more on how to get coverage in my article “7 Tips for Getting Startup Press from an Ex-Journalist.

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