Is Advertising the Right Promotional Tool for your Business?

In the 1970’s a British umbrella manufacturer began a series of expensive television advertisements.  The company was suffering at the hands of cheap imported umbrellas from the far east.  The television advertisements stressed the durability and long life of the British umbrellas compared to their less robust eastern alternatives.  The campaign was a complete failure.  It cost the company millions but sales continued to fall.  In fact, the promotion was so expensive it almost wiped the British manufacturer out.

The umbrella manufacturer went to TV advertising in panic.  They did not properly consider their customer base, the message, or whether television advertising was the most appropriate use of funds.  At the time TV advertising was an expensive method of promotion and the umbrella manufacturer may have seen better results in using PR, print media, personal selling and other promotional methods.

The aims of the promotion were not properly defined and no appropriate targets for the promotion were defined.

It is important that when considering the promotional elements of a marketing mix that communications activity is integrated.  All forms of promotion must be Consistent, Clear and Compelling.

Marketers refer to a communications mix.  Promotional activity should be looked at as a whole not as individual processes.  A marketing communications mix may well be made up of:

  • Advertising – non-personal presentations via a wide range of media from print to digital
  • Sales Promotion – use of discount tokens, short term promotions such as BOGOFs and free samples
  • Personal Selling – Use of sales representatives to visit consumers and retailers
  • Public Relations – use of press releases and events to promote products/brands
  • Direct Marketing – through mailshots, telephone and email
  • Sponsorship – of events, sports teams and now even stadia (the Principality stadium, BT Murrayfield, The Aviva Stadium, the Ricoh arena, etc.)
  • Social media – Blogs, Vlogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

In the case of the umbrella company a better strategy may have been to look at means of promotion other than television advertising.

Take Ugg boots as an example.  Ugg do very little, if any television advertising.  Instead they promote there products through the use of social media, fashion magazines, celebrity endorsements, brand fans, in-store promotions and display prominence.

Ugg use sales agents to promote their products to retailiers.  They have a cohort of bloggers affiliated to their brand (the bloggers discuss a range of topics including music, film or fashion and are not restricted to talking about Ugg products).  Ugg use social media and encourage brand fans.  Fans can get discounts for introducing friends and they can even get work experience at Ugg.

Traditional advertising media might not be the best option for your business.  When considering promotional activity:

  • Identify and understand your target audience
  • Carefully define the intended outcomes of the promotional activity
    • are you trying to stimulate trial
    • to position products in the minds of customers
    • to correct misconceptions;
    • to remind customers of your products or to reinforce the product in their minds
    • to support your sales force

Philmus Consulting can help your business to develop a suitable promotional mix and achieve a promotional strategy which is the best fit for your market and your business.