What is Promotion Mix: Definition, Tips, Examples

Understanding the Components of a Promotion Mix

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A team brainstorming on a white board with post-its. (promotion mix)

Whether online eCommerce or offline brick-and-mortar businesses, most markets increasingly look like red oceans with fierce competition. Standing out from the crowd and connecting with potential customers effectively and efficiently using strategic marketing and social proof tools like social media walls can be an almost unfair advantage—one that a well-planned promotion mix can give you.

In this article, we’ll define what a promotion mix is and explain how adopting the right promotional strategy, including direct marketing, personal selling, advertising, and public relations, can help your business attract prospective customers, boost sales, multiply revenue, and increase profitability. 

Without further ado, let’s forge ahead.

What is a promotion mix?

A promotional mix (also called promotion mix) is adopting a collection of different marketing strategies aimed at effectively communicating a business’s value proposition to its ideal target audience, stimulating demand, and ultimately driving revenue and marketing ROI (returns on investment).

A promotional mix strategy combines foundational strategic planning with advanced marketing techniques and tactical marketing tools to convey the right marketing message to target customers.

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Two women looking at a digital bulletin board in an office.

Benefits of designing a promotion mix for your business

A well-thought-out promotion mix marketing campaign can be a game-changer that offers the following key benefits:

  • Boosts Brand Image and affinity by making your business appear credible and desirable to potential customers;
  • Elevates Sales and profits by driving purchasing decisions;
  • Highlights Value Proposition by clearly communicating the unique advantages offered by your product or service to both prospects and new customers;
  • Helps Your Business Stand Out by differentiating its unique service proposition (USP) from its competitors;
  • Promotes Customer Loyalty by fostering long-term relationships;
  • Manages SOS Situations by helping protect your business reputation during crisis scenarios through effective reputation management.

The perfect marketing mix ensures that your business is constantly communicating the right marketing message, to the right audience, at the right time, through the most effective channels, thereby maximizing the impact of your marketing efforts and driving business growth.

The 5 pillars of an effective promotion mix

All promotional techniques, big or small, fall under the following five promotion mix elements that help steer your marketing efforts toward success by synergistically transforming your business’s brand narrative. 

1. Advertising

Advertising is a paid form of marketing where businesses deliver promotional messages to encourage people to buy their products or services. The idea is to draw an audience’s attention towards a business’s value proposition to boost sales either directly or indirectly.

Advertising campaigns can be digital or traditional and are usually designed and optimized by advertising agencies for a particular brand with a potential customer or target audience in mind.

The purpose of advertising is to:

  • Inform: Ads inform consumers about a business’s products and services and how to purchase or access them;
  • Persuade: Ads persuade potential customers to choose your business over others’ by highlighting features, appealing to emotions, and creating brand narratives;
  • Remind: Stay top-of-mind by constantly reminding consumers about products and services they are already aware of.

Example: The “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola

This viral campaign replaced the traditional Coca-Cola logo with common names, inviting people to “Share a Coke” with the named person. This campaign leveraged both digital and traditional advertising mediums and illustrates the power of personalization even in advertising.

A promotional graphic featuring the "Share a Coke" campaign, with the Coca-Cola logo and multiple personalized Coke bottles with names like "Tom" displayed. (promotion mix)
Source: Coca-Cola

Whether it’s a billboard on a crowded street or banner ads on your blog site, advertising is crucial in reaching out to your target audience with your unique marketing message.

Related: User-Generated Content Campaigns

Related: User Generated Content Examples to Inspire You

2. Personal selling

Personal selling is the second key component of a successful promotion mix. It refers to the direct contact and interaction between a company’s on-field or online sales representatives and the prospects.

Since it involves dedicated sales teams, personal selling may involve a bigger promotional budget as compared to other promotion mix elements.

The three main aspects of personal selling are:

  • Direct Interaction: Unlike advertising campaigns, which are a one-to-many marketing method, personal selling is a one-to-one approach that provides the benefit of both personalized attention and immediate feedback;
  • Relationship Building: The goal of personal selling is not only to make a sale but to build trust with the target customer, too. This can  lead to future sales, repeat purchases as well as word-of-mouth referrals;
  • Sales Techniques and Training: You need a  skilled salesperson who’s been highly trained in both sales techniques as well as your business’s product lines;

Example of personal selling: Xerox

With its high-quality copiers and printers, Xerox has a large sales force that engages in personal sales. Each Xerox sales representative is trained to understand the specific needs of each business and recommend products that meet those needs.

Personal selling is a highly effective promotional tool, but it may not make sense for many smaller businesses that do not have dedicated sales teams. However, for businesses selling complex or high-value products or services, few promotional tools can beat the personalization it provides in sales interactions.

The starting point for lead generation and personal selling today is LinkedIn, with more than 875 million professional members from 200 countries and 58 million companies listed.

3. Sales promotion

A sales promotion is when you concentrate almost all your promotional efforts on sales campaigns to stimulate quick and increased product purchases.

Sales promotions are more of a tactical approach that may involve providing short-term incentives in the form of free samples, discounts, BOGO (buy one get one) offers, sales contests, and more.

Ideas for sales promotions with different promotional variables: 

  • Discounts: Dollar discounts and instant price reductions make customers feel they’re getting a ‘deal’, which can nudge immediate buying actions;
  • Samples: Free samples can allow prospects to try products risk-free, which can drive future purchases;
  • Contests and sweepstakes: Use these to create excitement surrounding your product launch or brand.

Example: McDonald’s Monopoly 

For many years, McDonald’s has run a Monopoly-inspired sales promotion. Customers can collect game pieces with their purchases and win prizes. This promotion increases customer engagement and encourages repeat purchases.

Also, look at Pizza Hut USA’s sales promotion below:

This promotion aims to boost online sales by offering 50% OFF the entire menu for all orders placed before a particular date.

An advertisement from Domino's Pizza offering 50% off on all menu-priced pizzas when ordered online, with social media engagement metrics showing comments and shares. (promotion mix)
Source: Dominos Pizza

In summary, sales promotion is an integral component of the promotional mix as it often leads to an immediate increase in sales. 

4. Public relations

Public relations campaigns (PR) are a strategic communications mechanism that serves to use proactive communication to maintain a positive image of the business in front of stakeholders.

The role of PR is crucial to the management of a company’s reputation, the handling of crisis communications, the facilitation of timely communication between companies and their stakeholders, as well as the overall promotion of business goodwill.

Some key forms of popular public relations campaigns:

  • Media Relations: Develop and maintain relationships with media personnel to enable positive coverage of the business;
  • Press Releases: These are official statements issued to the media to provide information or make announcements;
  • Events: Hosting, sponsoring, or even participating in events, especially those with environmental and societal impact, can attract media attention and help project a selfless image of the business.

Example: Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol Crisis Management

Johnson & Johnson pulled 31 million Tylenol capsules from the shelves, issued public warnings, and cooperated fully with the media when seven people died from cyanide-laced capsules in 1982. This type of swift and responsible action preserved the public trust in the brand.

Public relations is an integral part of a business’s promotional mix, fostering positive brand perception and beneficial relationships.

5. Direct marketing

Direct marketing is a form of marketing where businesses communicate directly with their prospects and customers using various media channels. It’s a powerful promotional mix component that allows businesses to target specific groups of consumers with highly targeted and personalized messaging.

In direct marketing, businesses can reach out to their target market using:

  • Email Marketing: After getting consent from subscribers, educational and promotional messages can then be sent, often automated and personalized, depending on their buying behavior;
  • Direct Mail: This involves sending promotional literature such as catalogs or postcards via physical mail directly to consumers’ homes and businesses’ offices;
  • Online Advertising: Place targeted ads on search engines or social media platforms, reaching your ideal customers directly.
  • Cold Emails: Unlike traditional email marketing, cold emails are sent to potential customers who have not yet opted into receiving communications. This approach requires careful crafting to avoid being intrusive, focusing on providing value and establishing a connection with the recipient.

Example: Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club: This subscription-based company delivers affordable, high-quality razors and other personal grooming products directly to consumers’ homes. They launched a humor-laden direct marketing video shared with their audience over social media and via email marketing, causing their campaign to go viral and sales to shoot up.

Also, here’s an example of a promotional email from the online fashion clothing store Asos:

An ASOS online fashion store promotion showcasing a variety of new arrivals including dresses, shoes, accessories, and a highlighted T-shirt dress in botanical textured print, along with mentions of free delivery and easy returns.
Source: Sender

As a powerful tool in the promotional mix, direct marketing enables businesses to correspond directly and in highly personalized ways with their target audiences, increasing their relevance and conversion rates.

Conclusion and key takeaways

In today’s competitive business landscape, a well-planned and expertly executed promotion mix is half the battle won.

However, note the following key pointers:

  • Promotion Mix: A combination of advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing can be combined to promote products and services;
  • Continuous Experimentation: No two businesses are alike. To find the perfect promotional mix for your business, embrace a dynamic approach and test different strategies;
  • Measure & Optimize: Adopt a data-driven approach to optimizing your promotion mixes all the time for maximum ROI.

By combining the right mix of promotional elements and marketing strategies, businesses can reach out to and be discovered by their ideal audience, communicate their message in a targeted fashion with them, and ultimately achieve their marketing objectives and business goals.