One of the attributes of a free-market system is the right to use communication as a tool of influence. That freedom is reflected in promotional efforts by businesses to influence the feelings, beliefs and behaviour of prospective customers. A company uses promotion to provide information, for the decision makers in their buying decision process, and to assist in differentiating its products, as well as persuade potential buyers. Promotion is the act whereby the organisation informs, persuades and reminds prospective customers and other selected audiences about the company and its products. The most useful product or brand will be a failure if no one knows it is available.
The producer must inform middle men as well as the ultimate consumers or business users about the products. The wholesalers in turn, must inform retailers, and retailers must inform consumers. Promotion also persuades. The intense competition among different industries as well as the growing number of firms in the same industry put pressure on the promotional programmes of the organisation in order to outsell the other. Even the products designed to satisfy the basic psychological needs require strong persuasive promotion because the consumer has many alternatives to choose from. Consumers also must be reminded about products availability and their potential to satisfy. Given the extent of competition, even an established firm like Coca-cola, The 7Up company and The Nigeria Breweries must constantly remind people about their brands to retain a place in their minds.
Promotion methods: Promotion, in whatever form, takes an attempt to influence the buyers of products or service positively. There are five promotional methods:
i. Personal selling
iii. Sales promotion
iv. Public Relations
v. Publicity. The recent addition is Direct Marketing.
This is the direct presentation of a product to a prospective customer by the sales person who represents his organisation. It is a form of face-to-face presentation in most cases, though it is also done through telephone conversation and it may be directed at a business person or final consumer. More money is spent on personal selling than any other forms of the promotional methods. This comes in the form of salaries and commission to sales persons and others.
This is often defined as a non personal communication paid for by an identified sponsor promoting ideas, organisations, or products. The most familiar outlets for advertisements are the electronic or broadcast media (television and radio) and the prints media (newspapers of magazines). Other advertising vehicles include, mobile advertising system, the billboards, T-shirts and more recently, the Internet.
This is a demand stimulating activity designed to supplement advertisement and facilitate personal selling. It is paid for by the sponsors and frequently involves a temporary incentive to encourage a sale or purchase. Many sales promotions are directed at consumers. However, the majority are directed at the company’s channels to encourage aggressive sales. When sales promotion is directed to the members of the distribution channel, it is called trade promotion Sales promotion includes: events sponsorship/marketing, contests, trade shows, in-store displays, rebates, samples, premiums discounts and coupons.
This includes a wide variety of communication efforts designed to contribute generally, favourable attributes and opinions towards an organisation and its product. Unlike advertising and personal selling, it does include a specific sales message. The targets often include customers, stakeholders, government agencies and general public. Public relations takes the form of new letters, annual reports, lobbying and support of charitable and civic events.
This is a special form of public relations that involves news and stories about an organisation or its products. Like advertising, it consists of impersonal message that reaches a mass audience through the media. Organisations frequently seek good publicity and provide materials for it in the form of news releases, prices conferences and photographs.
This involves using print or broadcast advertising to contact consumers who in turn buy the product without visiting a retail store. Direct marketing to the consumer involves one or more of the following media: radio, television, newspapers, magazine, catalogues, mailing etc.
Distribution / Place
The channels of distribution are the network of intermediaries linking or capable of linking the producer to the markets. The term is used to symbolize the flow of goods and . services. The movement is not only . physical movement but includes title of ownership, payment, information and promotion channel. Intermediaries have many roles among which are:-
i. The distribution at low cost per unit than the manufacturer could.
ii. To balance production efficiencies of the supplier in the purchasing needs of the customer.
iii. The wholesaler or retailer through volume buying gives the producer the opportunity to maximize production efficiencies while they keep prices down for customers.
iv. The intermediaries also breakdown the large volumes produced into the small quantities bought and minimize the number of transaction in the selling process.
v. They also provide the consumer customer with varieties and assortment through their combination of various products for display and marketing.
Channel of Distribution Design
The choice of channels by a firm calls for a thorough review of the objective of its system and the constraints under which it operates. Its choice of channel must match the capabilities of the firm. The marketing orientation firm focuses on the needs of the different customers group it tries to service. Four basic options exist and firms try to adopt them.They are:
i. Intensive Distribution
ii. Selective Distribution
iii. Exclusive Distribution
iv. Vertical Distribution
This involves seeking every possible outlet for the firm’s product. It is commonly used for fast moving consumer goods e.g. cigarette, soft drinks and sweets where every exposure to the consumer is the opportunity to buy. The outlet has relatively little impact on the customer impression of the product.
The manufacturer limits the search for outlets to a limited number of fairly broad categories. It is often adopted where there is limited interaction between outlet and customers. The selection can be related to type or nature of outlet e.g. only pharmacies for the firm’s product (e.g. toothpastes). It could also adopt clean and large outlets with adequate display area for the firm’s product.
This happens where producers select such intermediaries on careful consideration and identified by their companies’ policy and provide them with the exclusive right to operate sell the product in particular areas. It applies in the market where the interplay between product and outlet is considerable. For instance, some auto manufacturing firms insist on their outlets having repairs, service and warranty handling facilities, while some cosmetics firms demand their outlets to have the capacity to provide them with advisory services, therefore their products are found in some specific salons.
In some circumstances producers do prefer to have direct involvement with the intermediaries. Such firm often starts its own wholly-owned outlets. This often alienates the firms since it puts the organisation into direct competition with would – be distributor of similar products. For example MeCom Cable Nigeria Ltd, a producer of electrical wires distributes its products through its wholly-owned outlets and company sales force.
Channel Conflict and Cooperation
The issue of channel selection and distribution relationship with intermediaries is not so smooth in the organisation. There are areas where conflicts do emerge. Such conflicts arise out of the attempts by some independent channels to maximize their profits at the expense of the manufactures. Problems can also arise when a specific channel member has too much power to act negatively. Also, the desire of some retailer/wholesalers to restrict their lines, limit their number of new products or demand promotional bonuses can stifle competition and innovation. In addition, the policies of some manufacturers to restrict suppliers or even refuse to supply certain traders are sources of conflicts. Whichever is the case, the intermediary is both a customer involved in an exchange as well as a partner in distribution.
The three additional Ps for service marketing
The traditional four Ps of marketing are very well suitable and work well for physical product, but additional characteristics are required for explaining and motivating consumer in the service business. Booms and Bitner as cited by Kotler suggested the three additional Ps for marketing of services. These are People, Process and Physical Evidence.
The unique features in various services and the general characteristic of intangibility, variability, perishability and inseparability make it almost impossible to appropriately and satisfactorily market service with the four Ps. Also, most services are provided by people who have direct contact with the consumer at all times. This makes it important for the service people to make the difference during the delivery time. Therefore, the selection, training and motivation of these employees can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction.
Service companies (banks, hospitals) can choose among different processes to deliver their services. The time spent at queues, the approach to customers by the staff, and the extent of technology that can provide faster service delivery and customer satisfaction all cumulated in the process in carrying out the service to the customer.
The customer sees the physical environment that consists building, interior equipment, and furniture. He also sees the officers in the organisation and their dedication and service delivery process. Thus, the service outcome and whether or not the people remain satisfied and loyal to the service provider are determined by the totality of the visible part of the organisation that supports the non visible backroom.
However, Chartered Institute Marketing (CIM) study Text categorized twelve Ps of marketing which are divided into three segments namely, planning mix elements, marketing mix elements which is for tangible product and service mix elements. The marketing mix previous section. Let us take some time to explain the planning mix elements, it consists of planning, profitability, positioning, performance and period.
This is regarded as the stage in which objectives are determined policies and strategies are formulated and the selection of the best choice is made in order to achieve the set objectives. It is a process that deals with issues of where are we, where we want to be and how to get there.
This is also a set of the planning stage. It is the determination of the stream of income that exceeds by an acceptable amount of the stream of cost of doing business.
This deals with how a product or service creates and establishes an image in the minds of consumers through which the product is susequently evaluated against competition.
Performance: concerns the level at which the products or services primary characteristics operate. Performance may be further categorized into low level, medium level and high level for ease of measurement.
This practically means assessment of all Ps on a continuous basis to be sure that they individually conform to the expectations of the final consumers who are the basic reason for the existence of the organization. Period is thus, the interval of time at which reviews are done to determine continuous relevance and performance of Ps to ensure that they meet set objectives.