Advertising is the way a company informs potential customers about the products and services it offers in the hope that they will buy eventually, while a sales promotion is an incentive provided to consumers to motivate them to buy immediately. Both advertising and sales promotions are ways of marketing. Advertising methods and various sales promotions are integrated into a company’s overall strategic marketing plan. These marketing tools are designed to increase sales and improve the bottom line.
Traditional print advertising to disseminate information to the customer takes many forms. Print advertising with high visual impact can be found in glossy, full-color magazines and in newspapers. Brochures and product catalogs are other forms of advertising. Companies may publish a newsletter with interesting articles and facts related to their products to establish the firm as an expert in the field. When using direct-mail advertising, businesses buy targeted lists with the names and addresses of potential customers who may be interested in buying their products. The lists can be used to mail postcards with print advertisements directly to a customer’s home. Banners, posters and in-store displays are other effective forms of print advertising.
The Internet and Other Advertising Tools
A wide range of advertising outlets have appeared on the Internet, and companies have been quick to take advantage of the possibilities. Businesses place advertising on websites, sometimes in the form of pop-ups, and they send advertising messages directly to consumers via email. Social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are Internet formats that enable companies to get the word out about their products and services and keep the company name in front of the customer. Other kinds of advertising include billboards, radio and TV advertising, and product placement in films and TV shows.
A sales promotion offers a value-added benefit to the consumer. Sales promotions are expected to produce results on a short-term basis. Many sales promotions take the form of a discounted price for a limited time. A sales promotion may require the purchase of an item at the regular price to qualify for a discount on the second item. "Buy one, get one free" promotions entitle the consumer to two items for the price of one. When the company offers a product or service below the cost price, it is termed a “loss leader.” This kind of sales promotion is instituted with the intention of bringing customers into a brick-and-mortar store in the hopes that they will be motivated to buy other items at full price. Direct mail and the Internet can be used to publicize sales promotions.
A recent technological innovation links print advertising and sales promotional information to the Internet. The tag barcode, similar to a logo, can be placed on printed pieces and the consumer uses a Smartphone application to read the tag. When the phone is passed over the tag reader, a company’s website opens up instantly. The website might contain coupons and other promotional and advertising information to drive the consumer to buy a company’s goods and service.