Chapter 10 – Integrated Marketing Communications

10.2 The Promotion Mix


  • Understand the different components of the promotion (communication) mix.
  • Understand the difference between types of communication that target many people at one time versus types of communication that target individuals.

The definition of integrated marketing communication (IMC) continues to evolve. In the textbook, we consider IMC to be the strategic business process of conveying the company’s brand message to all of its audiences (customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, investors and other strategic partners) across all of its communication platforms to present a cohesive image of the brand. The promotional mix refers to specific promotion vehicles that inform and remind customers about the product or service, and motivate a purchase (Ots & Nyilasy, 2017).

Although the money companies spend promoting their offerings may go to different media channels, they still want to send their customers and potential consumers a consistent message. The different types of marketing communications a company uses compose its promotion mix, (advertising, consumer sales promotions, public relations and publicity, sponsorships, direct promotion and professional selling).

Advertising involves paying to disseminate a message that identifies a brand being promoted to many people at one time. Typical enabling media and devices that companies utilize for advertising include video (satellite, cable, streaming); print or digital magazines and newspapers; radio; and social media (e.g. Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, blogs, and Twitter).

Sales promotions directed toward consumers consist of short-term incentives such as coupons, contests, games, rebates, and mail-in offers that supplement the advertising and sales efforts. Sales promotions include promotions that are developed to get existing customers to take action quickly, make larger purchases, and/or make repeat purchases of existing products. Sales promotions support a market penetration strategy.

Sales promotions directed toward other businesses are called trade promotions because they are targeted to channel members who conduct business or trade with consumers such as grocery stores, pharmacies or discount department stores. Trade promotions include trade shows and special incentives given to retailers to market particular products and services, such as extra money, in-store displays, and prizes.

Public relations and publicity involves communication designed to help improve and promote a company’s image and products. The information is tailored to sound as if it has been created independently of the advertising company. Public relations materials include press releases, publicity, and news conferences. Many companies have internal public relations departments or hire companies to find and create public relations opportunities for them. As such, public relations is part of a company’s promotion budget and their integrated marketing communications.

Sponsorships typically refer to financial support for events, venues, or experiences and provide the opportunity to target specific groups. Sponsorships enhance a company’s image and usually generate public relations. With an increasing amount of money being spent on sponsorships, they have become an important component of the promotion mix.

Direct promotion involves the delivery of personalized and often interactive promotional materials to individual consumers via companies or devices such as postal mail, flyers and catalogues, telephone (landline and mobile), television and computers and tablets. It relies on direct communication to individual consumers or their devices.

Postal mail, flyers and catalogues continue to be effective due to their length of time they are kept in the home and the way in which they activate multiple senses (McNeish, 2019; McNeish & Humphreys, 2002). In 2008, Canadian Tire cancelled its printed catalogue although they continued to distribute weekly printed flyers (Canadian Press, 2008). They commented that research showed that “readership and retention of annual catalogues was declining.” What they did not expect was the loss of sales attributed to the catalogue that were not made up through online sales. In 2016, they reinstated the print catalogue and reported that following the catalogue launch their weekly online sales doubled (Strauss, 2016). Similarly, World Vision, a non-profit association that supports vulnerable children and families uses both a print and online catalogue to encourage donations by offering specific items such as fruit trees or livestock that people can choose. They found that the print catalogue drove traffic to the online catalogue and represented the preferred shopping channel for some of their long time donors (Li, 2017).

Digital/Online Marketing includes company websites, email, search ads, display ads, company blogs, third-party chatrooms, forums, blogs, and social media delivered to computers. Online marketing (Adams, 2017) enables companies to connect and interact with their existing and potential customers, influence consumer’s attitudes, receive feedback from customers to help the company improve their products and services. Companies make use of different techniques such as Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing to improve the position of their content in the search engines. Social Media Marketing refers to company-owned properties such as a company YouTube channel or Instagram pages (Constantindeides, 2014). In this way, companies are able to control the presentation of their brands in what were previously consumer-controlled social media properties.

Five Guys is a restaurant chain that sells burgers, fries, and hot dogs. Here is a link to their YouTube channel.

Mobile Marketing is part of online marketing and refers to messages delivered to customers’ smart devices (phones and tablets). Mobile marketing is identified separately from online marketing due to the way in which advertising can be targeted to the specific IP address of the user’s device.

Think of all the networks to which you might connect during a day or week. You may share your home broadband connection with several roommates. The IP address would be that of the broadband router. Then you may have used a public network on public transit or in a retail store. When you got to work, or school, you might have logged on to those networks as well. The various IP addresses are returned to ad tech companies that interpret the information received in order to provide you with relevant advertising based on the activity of the IP addresses you used.

With mobile marketing, customers may have given you permission to interact with them by providing their mobile phone number, signing up for your social media accounts or downloading your mobile apps. In this way, customers are signaling their interest in your products or services.

While printed direct mail or flyers made use of household geographic information (e.g. addresses or postal codes), geotargeting is a new way for advertisers to specify the content of the ads based on the location of a customer’s device. Advertisers can choose different content for their ads based on geographic locations. Consumers receive promotions on their smartphones as they walk by the store, prices that vary by province from an online store, or even within a gaming device (Riserbato, 2020).

Professional selling is an interactive, paid approach to marketing that involves a buyer and a seller. The interaction between the two parties can occur in person, by telephone, or via another technology. Whatever medium is used, developing a relationship with the buyer is usually something the seller desires. When you interview for part-time or full-time employment and try to convince potential employers to hire you, you are engaging in professional selling. The interview is very similar to a buyer-seller situation. Both the buyer and seller have objectives they hope to achieve. Business-to-business marketers generally utilize professional selling more often than business-to-consumer marketers.

‡ signifies new material that Ryerson University authors have added to this adaptation of Principles of Marketing published by University of Minnesota Library Publishing, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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