Marketing, advertising, and promotions are often used interchangeably by small businesses that don’t really understand the process of effectively bringing products or services to the marketplace. The more subjective disciplines of advertising and promotions support objective, upfront marketing research. Understanding what each of these terms means and how they relate to each other will help you effectively increase your sales.
It is such a common misconception that marketing and promotion are interchangeable titles for the different services. This needs to be addressed because not enough small business owners and independent brands understand the difference. When people talk about “marketing services”, they oftentimes are looking for promotions, advertising, or even public relations. They want immediately make money for them. Marketing doesn’t quite work that way. Developing your marketing mix includes determining your product, pricing, placing, and … wait for it… promotion (sometimes we include a 5th “P” of marketing, people). So naturally, if promotion is included as a part of a marketing mix, the two can’t be the same thing. But what is truly the difference? Let’s address them one at a time.
Marketing is an objective discipline that involves the research, creation, pricing, testing, and distribution of a product or service. Marketing involves analyzing the competition by researching their pricing, products, where they sell, and age, race, gender, and other characteristics of their customers. A small business uses market research to test ideas and products on potential customers and to get feedback on the products or service. Market research also discovers what price consumers would pay for a proposed product or service, where they would purchase it, and how often they would use it.
Promotions are events, activities, sponsorships, and contests that create and increase awareness of your product or service. Promotions differ from advertising because they are less educational in nature than traditional advertisements. Sponsoring a youth sports organization, giving away free samples at a mall, offering coupons in grocery stores, or promoting a sweepstakes or contest that bring customers to your website are all examples of promotions. Promotions should be geared toward the consumer demographic your market research determined is your
Promotional marketing is the use of any special offer intended to raise a customer’s interest and influence a purchase, and to make a particular product or company stand out among its competitors.
The key difference between marketing and promotion is the fact that promotion is a part of a company’s overall marketing mix. The marketing mix consists of price, product, place and promotion. Thus, marketing exists without promotion but promotion doesn’t exist without marketing. It’s also important to recognize that there are a variety of different promotion tactics. They range from advertising to sales promotion and public relations to community engagement.