The sales promotion strategy is an important element in overall marketing strategy. Sales promotion strategy involves identification of objectives, effective communication for attracting attention, allocation of budget, determining the correct promotional mix, introduction of strategic approach and finally evaluation. Each one of them are briefly explained here.
1. Sales Promotion Objectives
The marketer should determine his sales promotion objectives. He should determine what is to be accomplished and what kind of buyer responses are desired. Sales promotion tasks should be objective oriented. These tasks are informing, persuading and reminding the customers about the products. The sales manager should inform consumers about his product and should highlight its special features. He has not only to inform the customers but persuade them to buy it.
Sales promotion should attract the attention of the target audience. If the prices, discounts, off season facilities etc, are not adequately and effectively communicated, the effort of sales promotion would be wasted. A point to be noted here is that the audience evaluates not only the message but also the source of the message in terms of its credibility. The purpose of communication is to persuade potential customers to purchase the product.
The sales manager determines the message to be aimed at the target market to gain product acceptance. The overall marketing objectives define the role of communication in sales promotion. Identifying the target audience is the main task of a sales promotion communication. The audiences response to the message source helps determine the effectiveness of the message.
3. Medium of Reach
Sales promotion may adopt different methods for approaching people. Strategic variables are taken into account while deciding a particular method of sales promotion. Consumer promotion has been considered a very effective mode of sales promotion; potential consumers are offered samples, coupons, etc; to promote sales. The point of purchase display is a silent strategy to trigger off buying decisions. Retailers rely on in-stone displays to familiarize customers with their product. A showroom display makes it easy for prospective buyers to familiarize themselves with the different features of the product. Trade promotion through buying allowance, free goods, merchandise allowances, push money etc; help to enhance sales by retailers and traders. Packaging is another important form of promotion, particularly for consumer goods. It may carry selling messages and information about the product. A good package design attracts the shopper‟s attention away from other products. It is a proper of blend of colour, design and shape.
One of the most difficult marketing decisions facing companies is how much to spend on promotion. It is not surprising that industries and companies vary considerably in how much they spend on promotion. It is important to determine sales promotion budgets before resorting to sales promotion activities. The resources and sales potentials are estimated before the formulation of budgets. Sales promotion budgets should be adequate so that they achieve the promotion objective.
- Affordable Method: Many companies set the promotion budget at what they think the company afford. This method of setting budgets completely ignores the role of promotion as an investment and the immediate impact of promotion on sales volume. It leads to an uncertain annual promotion budget, which makes long range market planning difficult.
- Percentage of Sales Method: Many companies set their promotion expenditures at a specified percentage of sales or of the sales price. Automobile companies typically budget a fixed percentage for promotion based on the planned can price. A number of advantages are claimed for this method. The percentage-of-sales method means that promotion expenditures are likely to vary with what the company can afford – which satisfies the financial managers, who feel that expenses should bear a close relation to the movement of corporate sales over the business cycle. This method also encourages management to think in terms of the relationship between promotion cost, selling price and profit per unit. The major drawback of this method is that it does not provide a logical basis for choosing the specific percentage except what has been done in the past or what competitors are doing. It also does not encourage building up the promotion budget by determining what each product and territory deserves.
- Competitive-Parity Method: Some companies set their promotion budget to achieve share-of-wise parity with their competitors. Two arguments are advanced for this method. One is that the competitors expenditures represent the collective wisdom of the industry. The other is that maintaining a competitive parity helps prevent promotion wars. There are no grounds for believing that the competition knows better than the company itself what it should be spending on promotion. Company reputations, resources, opportunities, and objectives differ so much that their promotion budgets are hardly a guide. Further more, there is no evidence that budgets based on competitive parity discourage promotional wars from breaking out.
- Objective-and-Task-Method: The objective-and-task method calls upon marketers to develop their promotion budgets by defining their specific objectives, determining the tasks that must be performed to achieve these objectives and estimating the costs of performing these tasks. This method has the advantage of requiring management to spell out its assumptions about the relationship between rupees spent, exposure levels, trial rates and regular usage.
5. Promotional Mix
Companies face the task of distributing the total promotion budget over the four promotion tools of advertising, sales promotion, publicity and sales force. With in the same industry, companies can differ considerably in how they allocate their promotional budget.
Companies are always searching for ways to gain efficiency by substituting one promotional tool for another as its economics become more favourable. Many companies have replaced some field sales activity with ads, direct mail and telemarketing. Other companies have increased their sales promotion expenditures in relation to advertising, to gain quicker sales.
The trial and error method, past performance and corporate policies may influence the appropriate promotional mix. Many firms have increased their sales with the application of appropriate combinations of the promotion media, sales promotion and personal selling are supported with publicity. The promotion mix is a variable in the marketing strategy. It should be clearly decided how fare a particular element should be used in combination with other promotional methods.