Sales Promotion serves a variety of marketing needs

Sales promotion differs from advertising on the following counts:

* Whereas advertising is mostly an indirect and subtle approach towards persuading consumers to try a product, sales promotion is a direct and almost open inducement to consumers to immediately buy the product.

* While advertising normally has long-term objectives like positioning, building brand awareness, or consumer loyalty or developing new markets for the brand, sales promotion performs an immediate task of increasing current sales.

* While advertising helps sales by adding some durable and long-term value to the product, sales promotion aids selling by temporarily changing the existing price value equation of the product in favor of the consumer.

Thus, advertising and sales promotions have their own distinct roles to perform in a promotion plan. When these roles are properly understood and used, these two tools can yield better results. While continuing to use advertising to build long-term patronage of the consumer, sales promotion will come handy to give the occasional spurt required to boost current sales or to tide over recession in the market.

Consumer Promotion and Trade promotion:

If we look at the target group to whom sales promotion measures are normally aimed at, we find four broad target groups, viz., the consumer, the trade, the company salesmen and influential groups. A bulk of the sales promotion effort is aimed at the consumer and the trade. Sales promotion aimed at consumers is termed consumer promotion and that aimed at the trade is termed trade promotion. Trade promotion is normally not advertised or publicized, it is an internal affair between the company and its trade. But, consumer promotions are given wide publicity.

How does Sales Promotion work?

Sales promotion acts as a catalyst to the already existing sales effort. The personal selling effort of the salesmen, the communication and persuasion effort through advertising and the distribution effort of the channel can be perfected and activated through a well-planned sales promotion. When used in conjunction with all these efforts, sales promotion accelerates the selling process. And it does so by showing a change (though temporary) in the price-value equation of the product in favor of the consumer. The consumer, who had so far assigned a given value to the product, now finds some extra value in the product. Sales promotion achieves this by lowering the price of the product or by increasing its value through some additional offers. In any case, the consumer is offered more gain from the purchase.