How to Do Sales Promotion and Advertising


Sales promotion and advertising are the most visible aspects of marketing. They provide the main mechanism for communi­cation between seller and buyer. The representative provides a near ideal basis for the dialogue which helps the company meet customer needs while ensuring that business relationships are developed and orders won. Advertising enables the firm to reach many thousands of prospective customers and project information on and images of the company. Sometimes, such as through mail order, orders can be won directly through advertisements.

In most small firms, the salesman or owner/director actively engaged in selling leads the firm’s marketing effort. Among the many facets of their work, the ultimate goal is the construction of a good array of profitable accounts. Partly for this reason sales targets are becoming increasingly important. Originally this involved simply setting targets for volume and perhaps profit contribution. Now targets are being designed to include a pro­portion of new accounts, direction towards key industries, even a profile of the industries or customers a representative should seek out. Despite some criticism, they provide a spur to action, at least when seen as fair by both salesman and manager. Per­haps surprisingly, the best results are often achieved by the owner/director who, leading the sales effort, sets himself these types of target. A giftware manufacturer in the south-west saw his sales increase over 50 per cent within a year of setting him­self targets.

Sale Promotion

Initiatives here call for careful evaluation of current activities. Customer contact time – the potentially profitable time actually spent in front of the prospect – can easily be swamped by costly time in the car, plane or hotel. In some firms, less than 20 per cent of the salesman’s time is spent in front of the prospects.

The calls themselves call for a balance between: (1) cold can­vassing, sometimes necessary but never to be the norm; (2) pre­pared calls for new and established customers; (3) repeat visits with a clear idea of the relationship between customer liaison, busi­ness development and order gathering. All need underpinning by effective report back and follow through in the firm.

Too often the sales effort is wasted by inefficient order pro­cessing. In fact it has been said that ‘in Britain, the problem is buying not selling’. The participants on one sales training course were shocked by the results of a simple exercise involv­ing the attempt to buy incognito by telephone, a stock item from their firm.

The joint owner and sales director of Hasty Footwear faced his greatest problems when the company grew large enough to employ its first full-time salesman. Recruitment and selection posed problems of job description, finding a sample of good candidates, evaluation and choice. Once the representative was appointed, the almost inevitable problem of the self-motivated entrepreneur in dealing with staff cropped up. He expected the employee’s commitment to be as great as his own. In fact, he was forced to introduce a planned process of management, motivation and control, through involving the salesman in planning and setting targets, close liaison, target-related bonuses and detailed evaluation of his work. In Hasty Footwear, the director’s gradual change in role led to a greater awareness of other aspects of sales promotion and advertising

Advertising can be used in a number of ways: awareness, to es­tablish interest, to stimulate desire and prompt action by custom­ers to buy the product (AIDA). Specific adverts can be geared to do each of these through a mixture of creative input and the right medium. There is an enormous range of media available to the smaller businessman: from television and newspaper ad­vertisements through to exhibitions, mail shots and brochures. As a result, the scope for achieving different results is enor­mous. Effective advertising management is built on four ele­ments: clear goals, constant monitoring of performance, evalu­ation of results and a willingness to learn and adapt.

Most small firm managers handle their own advertising effort but there is a massive body of knowledge of and research into this area which should be tapped wherever possible. Much of this accumulated information is in the hands of the advertising agencies. They vary greatly in size from giants like Ogilvy, Benson and Mather to small local firms. Details can be ob­tained through the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Much discussion of sales promotion and advertising suggests that they are totally separate spheres of action. In fact, they interact powerfully. The buyer who knows the salesman, his firm, its products, the company’s reputation, its other custom­ers and its record will respond to the sales visit. Advertising and other methods of preparing the ground are vital to this.

Public relations can play a major part. Many managers are over-cautious in their media relations. A good relationship with journalists on the local, trade and national media, a system of issuing press releases communicating stories in a simple and pithy form, geared as much as possible to the normal style of the newspaper or magazine, can earn great benefits for any firm. Innovations, major orders and success in any sphere are worth communicating to the media, which will generally handle the topic in a very supportive way.

Sales promotion and advertising provide the firm with the opportunity to direct the process of communication between the firm and its environment. Planning, targets, constant evalu­ation and updating of knowledge sustained by the vital spark of creativity are the basis of pay-offs here.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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