As a business owner, what do you think when you hear the phrase “promotional marketing?” Do you think of television advertising? A postcard or coupon you received in the mail? A flier in the Sunday newspaper? A branded shirt or hat?

If so, it may sound like promotional marketing is on its way out—perhaps being replaced by marketing that educates the target audience about products or services rather than directly promoting them to customers. (Marketers describe the former as inbound marketing or content marketing.)

However, statistics demonstrate that promotional marketing is not dying. It’s evolving, being replaced by newer types of promotional marketing that are being used in conjunction with content marketing.

6 Types of Promotional Marketing

Traditionally, the 4P’s of marketing have included product, price, placement, and promotion. While some small business owners might think of promotions only as sales promotions or coupons, “promotion” is actually a much broader term. It can include not only sales promotions, but advertising, direct marketing, personal selling, public relations, social media and sponsorship.

1.  Advertising: Still the Gorilla in the Room

Overall, advertising is alive and well in the United States and expected to generate nearly $207 billion in revenue in 2017 an increase in $24 billion over 2015. Yep, BILLIONS.

But not all advertising sectors are faring well. With the decline of print news, newspaper advertising is limping into 2018. From 2011 to 2016 newspaper advertising spending dropped $4.6 billion to $16.1 billion.

Another victim of newer technology is television advertising. Television advertising spending is relatively flat. Still, it is around $71 billion. However, it lagged behind digital advertising spending (at greater than $72 billion) for the first time beginning in 2016. With the increase in streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and others, this trend is expected to continue.

On the other hands, web advertising spending is strong, particularly through Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. In all, 25% of ALL global advertising spend is spent on AdWords or Facebook. AdWords spending alone is estimated at $35 billion in the United States, and Facebook advertising is about half that. Considering that Facebook entered the space in 2012, it is quickly gaining market share. Depending on your offering and target audience, advertising on these channels may be beneficial for your small business. Moreover, these ads are often used to promote content marketing.

2.  Direct Marketing: Consider Your Target Audience

Direct marketing includes the promotional mail you receive through the post office, UPS, or FedEx. It also includes email marketing and text marketing.

Direct Mail

According to the US Postal Service, the volume of direct mail decreased precipitously during the recession—from approximately 190 billion pieces of mail in 2008 to 150 billion by 2012. This free fall has stabilized around 140 billion pieces of direct mail. The use of coupons, fliers, catalogs and other direct marketing pieces remain successful tactics—particularly for consumer audiences. If you’re a small business that markets directly to consumers, direct mail may be a viable option for you.

The good news is that with less overall mail, there is less competition. The bad news? Only about 1 in 8 direct mail pieces are for business-to-business marketing. For B2B marketing, direct mail may not be the most cost-effective way for your business to go. If you haven’t checked your snail mail box at work in weeks, you know why.

Email Marketing

In an earlier blog, we discussed the success of email marketing, particularly for business-to-business marketing. With it’s low cost of implementation, it can provide an excellent ROI. How you approach your email marketing is an important determinant in your success. HubSpot provides some helpful email marketing statistics regarding the timing, subject lines and imagery to increase your campaign’s success. As long as email continues to be the communication channel of choice for business, B2B success in this area will also be maintained.

SMS Marketing (Texting)

Text marketing or SMS is a relative newcomer to direct marketing. Use of cell phone numbers are heavily regulated, so hire an expert in this area. Consider your audience. Marketing to millennials? Text marketing is a no-brainer. To the over 70 crowd? Probably not so much.

Consider your message as well. If your promotional message is brief, after all, brevity is what short message service (SMS) is all about, this type of direct marketing may be the right choice for your business.

3.  Personal Selling: More Inside Sales

Shifts are occurring within personal selling, particularly within the makeup of inside sales and field teams. The size of inside sales teams are growing. As customers do more of their preliminary research online and read your excellent content marketing, they are more informed and often readier to close the deal. Some customers prefer email over the disruption of in-person communications. This is another reason that businesses—large and particularly small—are moving their sales teams inside. However, even in small businesses, at 47% of all sales people being inside sales, field sales teams still predominate.

4.  Public Relations: Slow Growth

Public relations spending is growing, albeit slowly. From 2016 to 2020, it is forecasted to grow from $14 billion to just over $19 billion. Similar to other types of promotions, public relations is shifting its focus as a result of “fake” news and media fragmentation, paid vs earned PR, the rise of artificial intelligence, and other public relations trends.

5.  Sales Promotions: Effective for Consumers

Sales promotions, such as coupons, flash sales, and discounts remain effective–particularly for consumers. The trends in sales promotion spending have been somewhat volatile, but seem to have stabilized around 3% annual growth. This area of promotion has also shifted toward online coupons and discounts. If your business serves a consumer audience, you’ll want to consider sales promotions.

6.  Social Media: Promote Your Content

Social media is a great way to promote your content marketing and engage your customers. It is also a means for disseminating advertising, sales promotions, and public relations. Of course, choosing the right social media network is important. Facebook has proven valuable for both B2C and B2B audiences. Trying to engage the media? Twitter may be the right network for you. Looking at millennials? Instagram may be your best route.

How will you promote your business to your prospects and customers in 2021?

Nancy Burgess

Nancy Burgess is the owner of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, a marketing consulting firm and online agency. In that role, she integrates her corporate success as a digital marketer along with her marketing agency experience in marketing communications and branding to help businesses prosper. Nancy's specialties are search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a master's degree, and also multiple marketing certificates from DePaul University's graduate school. She is a frequent presenter on SEO strategies and has worked in digital marketing since the late 1990s. As someone who can strategize AND execute, Nancy offers digital and traditional marketing services to SMBs. Agency value without agency fees. Along with SEO and content strategies, Nancy's agency offers website design, marketing automation, integrated marketing strategies, and branding to her clients.
nancy burgess e1630278696867