What Is the Role of Promotion in the Marketing Mix?

Malcolm Tatum

The concept of the marketing mix is a common approach to the overall marketing strategy used by many companies and other types of organizations. Sometimes referred to as the Four P's, the mix addresses issues of product, place, price, and promotion. The role of promotion in the marketing mix is of special attention for anyone who wants to make sure the right consumers are reached, using the forms of media advertising that are most likely to connect with buyers and ultimately generate a high volume of sales.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Promotion tends to focus on how to go about attracting the attention of consumers and providing enough information to hold their interest long enough to motivate a purchase. In order to accomplish this, marketers will look closely at the many ways of advertising the product line and decide which methods are most likely to reach the desired consumer demographic. Often, this means taking into consideration factors such as age, gender, location, and economic class. Using that data, the marketer can decide whether investing time and resources in television and print advertising is likely to be effective, or if methods such as banner ads and other online advertising may be a better way to reach the right customers.

Since promotion is about telling consumers what they need to know in order to understand how buying the products will benefit them, creating the copy for the advertising often requires making use of the other components in the mix in order to create ads that will motivate consumers. For example, the ads will often make use of information that focuses on what the product can do, as well as making consumers aware of where they can go to buy the products. In addition, promotion in the marketing mix will often include at least some general information about the price, especially if that standard pricing is competitive with similar goods and services in the marketplace that may currently control a larger share of the market.

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As is true with each of the Four P's, promotion does not stand alone in its contribution to the overall marketing process. It draws on the collective data related to product, place, and price and incorporates that information into the advertising in a manner that is likely to entice customers to make a purchase. The actual scope of data used will vary, depending on what marketers perceive as being the key points most likely to appeal to certain customer demographics and increase the chances of the copy triggering a sale.

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Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - Any reputable company is going to want to concentrate on the four Ps of marketing rather than only on promotion. Promotion is a short term aspect of marketing. And businesses that only want a short term profit aren't doing it right.

In the long term, the products that do well are going to be good products that fill a need, pitched to a niche demographic, with a tailored price point and appropriate promotion on top of everything else.

In theory, if you get the first three right, you won't even need that much promotion, because word of mouth will do it for you.

@Ana1234 - Well, that's one of the reasons that we have laws against false advertising. Because anyone can say anything about their product and sell it in the short term -- you might even sell a lot of it in the short term.

That's the whole idea behind "snake oil" and other products that thrust everything behind making their promotion as widespread and appealing as possible, without worrying about whether the product is good.

But we have laws against promotion that doesn't actually match the final product now, so, in theory, we shouldn't be seeing that much of it.


This makes me think of an old Duck Tales cartoon in which a character (I can't remember which one) is trying to prove that they can be a good marketing employee and makes a whole bunch of advertisements about a nonexistent product, never actually mentioning in the advertisements what the product was for, but only concentrating on how desirable it was.

In the episode, the advertisements basically went viral and the public was clamoring to buy the product.

Of course, I was a kid when I saw this for the first time, and I didn't realize it, but this was a really good parody of promotion and the way that people can react to it. They say you need the four Ps to really succeed, but I suspect if you somehow manage to pull off the promotion aspect (and have no morals) you could probably do without the others.

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