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IB DP Business Management Study Notes

4.5.3 Promotion Strategies

Promotion is a critical component of the marketing mix, vital for communicating a product's value proposition to potential customers. Effective promotion strategies can stimulate interest, persuade, and remind customers, ultimately driving sales. This segment delves into four essential types of promotional strategies: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and personal selling.


Advertising is a paid form of non-personal communication where businesses convey messages about their products or services to a mass audience. It aims to inform, persuade, and remind potential and current customers about a product or brand.

  • Types of Advertising:
    • Print Advertising: In newspapers, magazines, brochures.
    • Broadcast Advertising: On TV and radio.
    • Online Advertising: Via websites, social media, and email campaigns.
    • Outdoor Advertising: Billboards, posters, and transport advertising.
  • Advantages:
    • Wide Reach: Potential to access a broad audience.
    • Control: Businesses decide the content, design, and medium.
    • Consistency: A consistent message can be delivered across various channels.
  • Disadvantages:
    • High Cost: Especially for TV or national print campaigns.
    • Impersonal: Generic messages might not address individual needs.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotion comprises short-term incentives to encourage consumers to try or purchase a product. These tactics boost sales in the short run and can be effective in luring customers away from competitors.

  • Types of Sales Promotion:
    • Discounts and Offers: Reduced prices for a limited time.
    • Loyalty Programmes: Rewards for frequent purchases.
    • Contests and Sweepstakes: Opportunities to win prizes.
    • Samples: Free or at a reduced price to introduce new products.
  • Advantages:
    • Immediate Boost: Quickly increases sales.
    • Attracts Price-sensitive Consumers: Those who hunt for deals.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Short-term: Doesn't build long-term brand loyalty.
    • Erodes Brand Value: Frequent discounts can make a product seem less premium.

Public Relations (PR)

Public Relations involves cultivating a positive image for the company or product through non-paid means. PR manages the flow of information between an organisation and the public. Understanding the challenges in international marketing can further enhance PR strategies in a global context.

  • Types of PR Activities:
    • Press Releases: Official statements to the media.
    • Events: Hosting or sponsoring events.
    • Sponsorships: Supporting social causes or community projects.
    • Crisis Management: Handling negative press or company mishaps.
  • Advantages:
    • Credibility: Information is perceived as unbiased.
    • Cost-effective: Compared to advertising, it can be cheaper.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Lack of Control: Can't control how media presents the information.
    • Unpredictable: Positive PR isn't guaranteed; things can go awry.

Personal Selling

Personal selling involves one-on-one communication between a salesperson and a prospective buyer. It's about building relationships and understanding the specific needs of individual customers.

  • Stages of Personal Selling:
    • Prospecting: Identifying potential customers.
    • Approach: Making initial contact.
    • Presentation: Introducing the product's features and benefits.
    • Handling Objections: Addressing any concerns.
    • Closing the Sale: Finalising the transaction.
  • Advantages:
    • Tailored: Offers can be customised to individual needs.
    • Feedback: Direct interaction provides valuable insights.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Time-consuming: Requires significant effort per customer.
    • Expensive: Higher costs due to commissions, travel, and training.

Promotion strategies require businesses to be astute and adaptable, considering both their target market's preferences and the changing landscape of media and communication. Strategies such as global vs local marketing can significantly influence the effectiveness of promotional activities. Through a balanced mix of advertising, sales promotion, PR, and personal selling, firms can effectively reach and influence their desired audience. Additionally, understanding market segmentation, pricing strategies, and product strategies can further refine these efforts to better target and meet the needs of various consumer segments.


Personal selling is particularly beneficial for products or services that are complex, expensive, or require demonstration. It's ideal for scenarios where customer education is pivotal, for bespoke solutions that need tailoring to individual client needs, or for B2B sales where purchase decisions involve significant capital. Products or services with high perceived risks, such as insurance or real estate, can also benefit from personal selling as direct interactions can address doubts and build trust more effectively than impersonal promotional methods.

Measuring the effectiveness of PR campaigns involves assessing both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Quantitatively, businesses might count media impressions (the number of times content was displayed), track website traffic spikes after a PR release, or measure the share of voice compared to competitors. Qualitatively, they assess the tone of media coverage (positive, neutral, negative), track brand sentiment changes, or conduct surveys to gauge public perception changes post-campaign. A successful PR campaign would result in increased positive visibility and enhanced public perception of the brand or product.

Guerrilla marketing is an unconventional promotional strategy aiming to achieve maximum exposure and impact on a limited budget. It relies on creativity, surprise, and unconventional tactics to capture attention and generate buzz. As a part of the broader promotion mix, guerrilla marketing can complement other strategies by targeting specific audience segments or addressing short-term marketing goals. While it can provide a significant return on investment due to its low cost and potential viral effect, it's essential to ensure the campaign aligns with the brand's image and values to avoid potential backlash or misinterpretation.

Digital advertising uses online platforms, such as social media, search engines, and websites, to reach audiences. It offers advantages like real-time analytics, target audience segmentation, and interactive capabilities. Traditional advertising, on the other hand, encompasses methods like print, television, radio, and billboards. Its strengths lie in broad audience reach and established credibility. However, measuring its impact can be less precise compared to digital means. In terms of impact, digital advertising can provide immediate feedback and adjustments, while traditional methods might have lasting brand impressions, but with delayed response times.

Sales promotions are short-term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of a product or service. The primary objectives include: boosting short-term sales, attracting new customers, clearing out old stock, and combating or disrupting competitors' marketing efforts. These incentives, whether price reductions, bonuses, or gifts, aim to entice consumers to act immediately. While sales promotions can provide an immediate sales boost, they may not guarantee long-term customer loyalty, so they should be employed judiciously within an overall marketing strategy.

Practice Questions

Distinguish between advertising and public relations as promotion strategies, providing one advantage and one disadvantage for each.

Advertising is a paid form of non-personal communication, where businesses convey messages about their products or services to a mass audience. One advantage is its wide reach, allowing access to a broad audience. A disadvantage, however, is its high cost, especially for TV or national campaigns. On the other hand, Public Relations (PR) involves cultivating a positive company or product image through non-paid means. Its major advantage is the credibility it offers, as information is perceived as unbiased. A significant disadvantage is the lack of control, as businesses can't always determine how media will present the information.

Explain the process of personal selling and highlight why it might be advantageous for a high-value product like luxury cars.

Personal selling is a one-on-one communication between a salesperson and a prospective buyer, focusing on building relationships and understanding specific customer needs. The stages include prospecting (identifying potential customers), approach (making initial contact), presentation (showcasing product features and benefits), handling objections (addressing concerns), and closing the sale (finalising the transaction). For luxury cars, personal selling is advantageous because it allows for tailored offerings, catering to individual preferences and ensuring an exclusive buying experience. The direct interaction also garners valuable feedback, ensuring the brand meets high customer expectations associated with luxury products.

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Written by: Dave
Cambridge University - BA Hons Economics

Dave is a Cambridge Economics graduate with over 8 years of tutoring expertise in Economics & Business Studies. He crafts resources for A-Level, IB, & GCSE and excels at enhancing students' understanding & confidence in these subjects.

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