A great idea or product is not enough to make it these days. In order to sell, first you need to introduce your product in the market, and then convince customers to buy it. That is why companies spend so much time on their marketing. Promotion is a key element of marketing, as it is one of the well-known 4 P’s. The four major promotional tools are: public relations, advertising, sales promotions and personal selling.

Public relations (PR) is focused on improving or maintaining the image of the company or product. Publicity is considered to be part of a PR strategy. Publicity is any reference to the product in any channel of information that it is not paid for. A clear disadvantage is that it is uncontrollable by the company. Publicity is free, and proven to be very effective, since customers find it to be an objective critic about the product.

Advertising, on the other hand, is paid for, and it is pricy. It is the same as publicity in the sense that it is any mention of the product aimed at increasing sales. The difference is not only the price, but the fact that it is controlled by the company. On the down side, it is much less believable, and probably not as effective as publicity.

The third main promotional strategy is sales promotions. Their objective is temporary, and aimed at a quick increase of sales. This can be achieved with coupons, price reductions or free samples. Sales promotions can be effective when trying to enter a new market, or can just be used to build up brand loyalty. Its biggest down side its short time span.

The last promotional tool is personal selling. This is by large the most expensive one of the four, and it is scarcely used. It is often used hand to hand with advertising. Sales people spread information about the product, sell them, and help customers with any possible problem. They are a key channel of information, and single-handedly represent the company in the eyes of the customer, hence their importance.

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