A business can never work if people don’t know more about the products and services you offer.
Here’s where promotion comes in to make people aware of how a product can change their life, what benefits it provides, and how they can make the purchase.
However, most companies already use the same repetitive promotion strategies. Seeing “yet another ad” on TV or within the search results won’t be enough to convince people to give your product a try. Not to mention that the abundance of promotion methods has led people to develop a type of blindness to ads and also to promotion in general.
In this context, how can you make sure that you’ll get people to be interested in your promotion strategy before actually getting them to make a purchase?
Let’s have a closer look at what promotion strategies are and how to make sure every type of promotion tactic you use will be different from those your competitors turned to.
- What is a promotion strategy in marketing?
- Traditional media channels
- Digital advertising
- Promotional pricing and sales
- Social media
- Word-of-mouth and referrals
- Public relations
- Content promotion strategy
What is a promotion strategy in marketing?
Promotion methods are part of the marketing mix [also referred to as the 4 Ps of marketing] along with product, place, and price. This makes it a vital element that keeps your business running in the long-term.
A promotion strategy is a mix of techniques, plans, and tools marketers and business owners use to spread the word around their brand, products, and services.
Promotion strategies are used throughout the entire buyer lifecycle from raising brand awareness to further promoting complementary products to existing customers. In addition, promotion finds its way within the general business strategies of a variety of organizations including schools, non-profits, enterprises, and even small shops.
The goals of promotion strategies include:
- Raising brand awareness
- Generating market demand
- Increasing sales
- Getting to a larger audience or target customer
- Educating on your products, the industry in general, as well as issues you help with
Certain types of promotional campaigns can help you cover all of these goals at once while others are created with a single core goal in mind.
This Salesforce LinkedIn ad, for instance, aims to educate and sell simultaneously:
Meanwhile, the Onboarding Joei series from 360Learning aims simply to entertain and raise brand awareness:
With so many unique approaches you can take, we’re having a look at all of the marketing promotion strategies you can customize. Feel free to get creative and mix these methods for a truly memorable promotional campaign.
Traditional media channels
Despite living in a digital-first world, traditional ads still have their place. Whether you want to promote a local event via a flyer or take up a large chunk of the commercial break at the Super Bowl, most businesses will find at least one good opportunity outside of our screens.
Take this Wix ad from the Super Bowl they used align with their omnipresent YouTube ads:
Or these subway ads from Monday.com which they place at the center of the hustle and bustle in New York:
Other traditional media channels you can use are:
- Billboard ads
- Print and newspaper ads
- Direct mail
- Product samples
- Branded balloons
- Pop-up stores
- Tradeshows and conferences
The best part is that these traditional promotion strategies are being adapted to new digital trends so companies can still reach out to people even when they’re outside their homes or offices. The perfect marketing promotion example is this New Year’s Eve countdown drone light show sponsored by Hyundai. Watch until the end and be amazed:
Most companies, however, have understood our “migration” towards online and e-commerce channels and moved their physical ads to social media and pretty much every other website that accepts ads.
Ad revenue provides a huge boost to any network’s revenue, which is why you’ll see ads on previously non-promotional channels like Reddit too. The Toptal team [see example below] chose to include ads in the subreddits where their target audience is most active. Even if the ad is not directly related to the topic of the subreddit, it can help users handle other needs or problems they might have.
Other social networks like Pinterest or Instagram are turning social channels into a complete shopping experience, slowly eliminating the need for us to look at dozens of websites before making a purchase.
This Pinterest ad blends in with the rest of the content organically but allows user to visit the website with a single click and make their purchase:
There are endless benefits to using digital ads as compared to physical ones—from targeting the right audience and adapting to individual requirements to measuring the results of your campaigns with minimal errors.
But with everyone doing ads, can you really make yours stand out?
This is exactly why some brands like Monday.com [promotion strategy example mentioned above] turn to non-conventional “physical” ads as well. Just because digital advertising provides a plethora of benefits doesn’t mean you will get the best possible results.
Nevertheless, digital advertising remains a leader at one thing: keeping prospects in the loop. With online ads, all they have to do is click one to see more info on a product, join a newsletter, or even inquire about your product. Many times, they’ll get retargeted ads or emails to keep them up to date with your offers.
You can also opt for highly-interactive methods of advertising that will engage people and increase your chances of staying top of mind. The online gaming world is great at this tactic as they allow you to play the game they advertise for a couple of seconds, betting on its ability to hook you straight away.
Fun fact: Traditional advertising often attempts to turn boring images into a complete experience. Take this print ad for instance:
There are roughly seven types of ways in which you can do PPC to suit your business and help you match the exact places where your target buyers spend time. The largest advantage of using PPC over traditional ads? You only pay when people click on your ads. Even if 10,000 people see your ad, you’ll only pay for the ones that click on the link or banner ad.
- Search ads: These are the first results you see on the search results page. These are marked through the Ad tag and can often take up the whole space above the fold for highly competitive keywords like “Boston lawyer”:
As this example shows, PPC search ads are super common and useful for local businesses who wouldn’t be able to get themselves in front of a large audience through other methods.
Note: Google Ads also provides options to pay per view or per conversion.
- Display ads: These are all the banners you see on the websites you visit, pop-up ads, interstitials messages, and similar.
- Social ads: Marketers are steadily growing their social media ad investment with a projected spending of US$110,628m in 2021.
- Gmail Ads: If you can’t get on their TVs, how about the very top of an email inbox?
- Remarketing: Commonly used with social and display ads, these allow marketers to send brand reminders or offers to people who’ve already visited a website or bought a product. The ultimate place where you want your ads is your competitor’s website. Most of them though won’t accept ads. In this case, industry websites and comparison/alternatives pages are the way to go.
- Google Shopping: I’m not an active user of this feature, but this doesn’t mean others aren’t. This Adthena report found that 76.4% of ad spend generates as much as 85.3% of clicks on shopping ads alone.
Tip: You can use the Think with Google website to see what the current retail trends are by country and state.
- YouTube in-stream ads: YouTube provides quite a few options to promote your brand. The most effective ones remain in-stream ads [including short non-skippable ones].
By 2022, the average adult will spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their smartphone. In the same year, mobile advertising spending is expected to rise to a whopping 247 510 million U.S. dollars. But what does this entail?
- Mobile coupons
- QR codes
- Mobile apps to promote a product or business
- In-app ads
Compared to the other digital advertising methods, mobile ads let local business or store branches target prospects when they’re in a new city or close to their location. This is commonly known as geo-targeting and allows marketers to send location-based advertising messages to let travelers or people from a different area of the city know about a discount or special offering.
Gamified mobile ads are largely popular within the mobile gaming industry. But this doesn’t mean that mobile ads are all static. When Samsung promoted its Galaxy S6 smartphone, they opted for an interactive interstitial ad that identified a phone’s battery level in real-time. This allowed them to promote their fast-charging technology through a hands-on demo:
Promotional pricing and sales
These promotion methods revolve around juggling pricing changes to make an offer more appealing. This can include anything from holding sales campaigns to offering special discounts or coupons and organizing contests.
Sales promotion has the same goals as other promotion methods but has the benefit of allowing your products or services to be affordable for people who wouldn’t normally consider them. In getting these first-time customers you’ll be able to loyalize them or turn them into advocates for your brand who can later bring more leads and sales.
Here’s a Cyber Monday offer that convinced me to get Grammarly at half the price:
Another option is to pair up with a company that already has a larger or different audience you want to get to. Offer a special discount or even a couple of months for them to access your service for free:
Let’s face it. Some of us spend more time on social media than on the rest of the Internet. That can mean just scrolling Instagram or getting all of your news and entertainment from YouTube. The latter is in fact the second most popular search engine after only Google.
Besides the social ads we already talked about, there are millions of other social media tactics you can get creative with.
From using your entire feed to educate:
To doing something out of the ordinary within your industry:
Interacting with big brands and creating viral content:
And loads of other social media promotion strategies along with…
Influencers and micro-influencers
Influencer marketing is another big channel marketers are using to gain trust around their brand, launch new products, or hold contests and giveaways in front of a new audience.
But bigger than well-known influencers are micro-influencers. These are all of our friends or up-and-coming influencers who still have small followings but hold higher authority.
Studies actually show that nano influencers [fewer than 1,000 followers] get higher engagement rates than other types of influencers. Even if you have a small account, you’ll have lots of brands reach out to you for a collaboration as long as you post consistently and have an engaged audience.
What I find super handy with social media is its ability to take your customer support efforts to a 100% success rate. I personally always use social media reach-out methods before I turn to email.
The speed and convenience make going to Facebook overwriting an email a preferred choice for 32.3% of people under the age of 25. If this stat isn’t convincing enough, just think of the 76% of people who message a business for customer service.
Chatbots come in to save the day when you want to keep users connected and engaged for longer. Chatbots will instead answer frequently asked questions and redirect users to the best resources as you wait for a human to answer on the other end. Some will even play games with you to keep you busy in the meantime.
Word-of-mouth and referrals
Word-of-mouth was the first promotion strategy business ever used and remains one of the core ones to turn to today. Problem is that word-of-mouth instances don’t depend on you. You can’t tell people to recommend your products just because. At least not without offering some type of incentive.
First, you need to make sure your products and services are top-notch. This ensures people will want to talk about your business because they truly enjoy your products and services.
Second, you want to keep engaging your buyers by offering special offers, fast and correct customer support, as well as new opportunities for them to grow and stay up to date with the latest changes in your industry.
Third, decide what you’re going to offer in return for a referral, share, or review. Money, special discounts, and other perks are common options.
Affiliate marketing made use of this trust people outside of your company can build around your brand. So now everyone’s on board to test products with high-profit affiliate programs and create endless content around them. The only cost for a business is the referral fee you have to pay to your affiliates.
Take inspiration from brands that already have solid affiliate programs everyone wants to be a part of like Shopify, Leadpages, Airbnb, Amazon, Bluehost, or Skillshare. Many of these have different schemes for every user type.
For instance, if you’re an instructor on Skillshare, you’ll get $10 for every student you refer. If you’re a student though, having one of your friends to join the platform will provide you with one free month of a Premium subscription. Also, let’s not forget about regular affiliates who want to write about Skillshare and will get $7 for a referral. And, in addition to this, they also regularly sponsor YouTube creators and the pay will depend on the strength of your channel.
Public relations [PR] refer to the use of communications management to develop, maintain, and strengthen relationships with your customers, partners, media outlets, and other parties. Their primary purpose is to enhance your brand’s image by putting you face-to-face with a larger audience and helping you maintain your thought leadership in the field.
Sounds like a mouthful, right? When I first heard about PR efforts I expected the process to be a complicated one only the best PR experts could pull off. To be honest, if you’re doing PR for an S&P 500 organization, it’s just like that. For small and medium businesses though, making PR work for you is an easy yet often time-consuming process. This 15-minute video will clarify the whole PR notion and give you some insights into how it actually works:
To resume, PR is all about:
- Getting brand mentions and features for your new launches or events from an esteemed media outlet
- Keeping the image of your brand clean and making it work for your general business goals
- Helping you spread awareness for your company’s culture and support your employer branding target
- Managing your reputation and any crisis situation
- Building and maintaining media relations to turn to for launches, awards, or brand updates and announcements
- Increasing brand credibility and position the company or its members as subject matter experts
So next time you see a company announcing funding in the press or a new board member, know that it’s always a publicist behind the news. Depending on the structure of a company’s team, PR professionals will be responsible for social media, content creation, market research, speech writing, or influencer marketing.
PR and sponsored events
Another duty that a PR expert has is scoring interviews and event participation or speaking gigs for their clients. This is where PR meets the event marketing realm.
Independently, events are so complex, you could add them to any of the promotion strategies on this list. You use social media to promote an event and then get the audience to follow you via Twitter. You ask for an influencer’s help to spread the word and then you might even have them speak on the big day.
Speaking at an event or sponsoring a conference is the least you can do. The next step is to create your own event like Salesforce Dreamforce or Content Marketing World by the Content Marketing Institute. Online events have made similar endeavors more accessible for small businesses too as the costs for organizing an event are now limited to marketing and PR to actually let people know about the event and maybe find some sponsors.
If you want something that’s not so large-scale, you can stick to regular webinars and Q&A or live sessions via YouTube. The Adobe Creative Cloud is a leader at organizing live events so definitely check their channel that boasts multiple lives every single day:
Talk about letting your team and users take care of the PR organically.
Content promotion strategy
As soon as you launch a website and start posting a couple of social media updates you’re on your way to a more complex content strategy. Considering that regardless of the product or service you launch you’ll need content, it’s safe to say that you will need a content marketing strategy.
Content does however come in different shapes and forms and a successful content strategy is always one you can use to stay ahead of your competitors. This said, if all of your competitors are already running their own podcasts, you’ll want to look for an opportunity they’ve missed.
This is where you’ll reach new audiences who haven’t yet had a chance to interact with your competitors. Think something along the lines of an entertaining YouTube channel, a fun viral game, or just a super solid series of guides written to take over the search results.
Here’s a quick representation of how some of the content types you create will help you reach your marketing goals:
Promoting your content [and implicitly your business and offers] is often the lengthiest step within the content marketing process. The truth is you can’t expect people to view your content if you don’t promote it.
There’s two rules you swear by for a content promotion strategy:
- Diversify your promotion channels
- Keep promoting even months or years [provided you’re updating your content] after the publishing date
Content promotion strategies to experiment with include:
- Sharing a post or snippets of the post on social media
- Syndicating content across various platforms and communities [see Slack communities]
- Linking back to your new content from old posts
- Referencing new articles in webinars, emails, or any discussions you have with people who might be interested in the topic
- Doing outreach/link building to gain backlinks to your content [This will also help boost your content in the search results.]
- Running a series of ads [mostly viable for content that’s focused on promoting your product or services]
- Repurpose your original content into videos, courses, presentations, games, and more
- Use expert sources who can share the final article with their own audience
- Optimize your visual images to support easy sharing
Despite all rumors that email was going to die, email marketing is actually becoming a stronger content amplification channel so it deserves its own separate focus. Simply put, everyone [company or individual] needs some form of an email strategy.
List building will ensure you’re creating a solid community of engaged users who want to receive updates from you because you’re able to provide the value they can’t find elsewhere.
Some brands are doing well with a simple newsletter that informs subscribers of new articles and guides on the blog. Others aim for complex regular newsletters with unique content people will flock to get. And a few companies prefer to ditch the newsletter and stick to casual emails that debate a current issue or just make an announcement around their brand.
Really Good Emails should be your first go-to resources if you need some inspiration. One look at all the amazing emails you can create throughout the entire buyer funnel and you’ll be motivated to launch your today:
But what makes email so special?
Remember all of the content promotion methods I mentioned above?
Well, you can use most of them within your email while making sure that you have a loyal audience to actually take the time and check out your content. This is particularly valuable for content you’ve barely launched and need a small starting push for. You can literally use email as an adjacent PR tool or content syndication platform, raise awareness of your offers or new products, make huge announcements, and so much more.
How to get started with your next marketing promotion strategy?
Phew, so many things to take care of.
This calls for a step-by-step plan.
Here’s a rough checklist to get your thoughts in order:
Bookmark this article and get back to it when you need some inspiration on how to promote your business. If you need any help with launching your promotion strategy, feel free to contact us.
Until next time, stay present!