Sales promotion: what is it?

Traditionally a ploy for large companies, how can sales promotion help you?

Nearly half of Britain’s leading companies are spending more of their marketing budget on sales promotion than they did last year. This seems to show a shift from the old myth that promotions offer nothing more exciting than money-off coupons and ‘2 for the price of 1’ offers.

So, as the great multinationals have started to use sales promotion as a key driver in the marketing mix, how can smaller and newer businesses also benefit from using promotional activity?

According to the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP), sales promotion comprises a range of tactical marketing techniques, designed within a strategic marketing framework, to add value to a product or service to achieve specific sales and marketing objectives.

Sounds complicated? Put simply, sales promotion is a means of achieving marketing objectives by offering short-term additional value to a brand. The key words in this definition are:

  • Marketing objectives. The objective is usually to increase sales in one guise or another.

  • Short-term. Promotional activity has to be temporary in order not to become an intrinsic attribute of the brand

  • Additional. Promotions have to offer the customer something extra, whether it is value, e.g. a free product, goods, eg. a branded gift or prizes, or other intangible benefit, such as a link with a charity.

A brand, whether it is a product, service or company, is taken to be a sum of it marketing mix: Product – attributes, function, packaging, Price – positioning, Place – distribution, location, and Promotion.

As a result of the combination of these four elements, a brand will differentiate itself from its competitors and acquire its own special brand values.


A brand is taken to be a sum of it marketing mix.


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