One-off promotions ≠ Marketing

Sales are down. The store down the block is offering big discounts. The new 2016 printers are set to be released soon, and you have 1000s of the old ones in the warehouse. What to do?

Let’s have a big promotion! Good idea, right? Yes, and no. If you have a marketing strategy and an integrated marketing communications plan AND this promotion fits into your plan and brand messaging, then let’s do it. If not, an ill-conceived, one-off promotion might do more harm than good, eroding your brand’s image, pricing and customer loyalty.

Marketing is not just promotions and rah-rah stuff. It’s much more.

What the heck is marketing then?

There are as many definitions of marketing as there are theories why Johnny “Football” Manziel is such a disaster as a professional quarterback.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the
customer so well the product or service
fits him and sells itself.”
- Peter Drucker, consultant, writer & social ecologist

The American Marketing Association defines marketing broadly as “the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” Illustrating how tricky marketing is to define, Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, gathered “72 Marketing Definitions” together in her blog post.

No matter how you define it, marketing is much more than a little sprinkling of sales promotions or pushing out a random press release or two. It starts with understanding what the customer wants and how you can fulfill that need better than anyone else. Once you have that figured out, you need to price, place/distribute and promote it properly, allowing you to make a profit. Finally, you have to keep your best customers while finding the new - and best - prospects.

As a former product marketing manager, I can attest to the fact that this isn’t easy. Even the best companies falter at times. Everyone from small business to Fortune 500 companies struggle with getting it right. When they do – like Apple or Nike - it’s magic.

"The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing."
- Tom Fishburne, career marketer and cartoonist

Promotion: a key part of the marketing mix

Remember… Promotion is just one of the Four Ps that make up the marketing mix – price, place, promotion and product. Be smart. Use your money and time wisely by ensuring your promotions are well integrated into your marketing strategy.

For more on integrated marketing communications (IMC), check out my blog on that topic.

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