A promotional policy is a set of principles and guidelines based on an analysis of an organization's goals, objectives, resources, and plans that is used to help develop marketing decisions, strategies, and plans. In addition to the nature of the product or service being offered and the characteristics of the target market, a promotional policy must also take into account the corporate image that the organization desires to portray to the public as well as any ethical considerations about their product or marketing approach. Promotional policies must by their very nature differ from industry to industry and from organization to organization to reflect the nature of business and the characteristics of a particular organization.
Whether one thinks of it as a challenge, a game, or the ultimate boredom, marketing is a fact of life for every business. Even small business owners who swear that they never market their products or services do through such methods as word-of- mouth and social or business networking. On the other extreme are large corporations with separate marketing departments and large marketing budgets that enable the creation of a corporate persona, high brand recognition, in-depth research, and a multi-pronged approach to identifying, capturing, and retaining customers.
Whether large or small, the business marketer is faced with a plethora of ways to market the organization's goods and services. Although one could, in theory, stand on the street corner and hawk one's business products, a more solid marketing strategy is necessary. Strategic marketing is a subfunction of marketing that examines the marketplace to determine the needs of potential customers, the strategy of the competitors in the market, and attempts to develop a strategy that will enable the organization to gain or maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Marketing departments can choose from a number of ways to market their company's products or services including advertising, direct response, sales promotions, and publicity. However, no matter how well an advertisement or marketing campaign is designed, unless one understands the needs of the customer, the market, and the industry as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the competition, these approaches are unlikely to be successful. Strategic marketing is an approach to marketing that helps an organization sharpen its focus and successfully compete in the marketplace.
Strategic marketing is concerned with two primary components: The target market and the best way to communicate the value of one's product or service to that market. To develop a viable marketing strategy, one must take into account several key dimensions. First, as with any other strategy within the organization, a marketing strategy needs to be endorsed by top management. Marketing strategy is also political in nature: Powerful units within the organization may disagree on the best marketing strategy and an agreement or compromise may need to be negotiated. Marketing strategies can also be affected by organizational culture and the assumptions that it engenders. For example, if the organization has always marketed its widgets to business executives, it may fail to see the potential for marketing to lower level personnel within the organization or even for personal use to adults or teenagers, with an important segment of the marketplace not being considered as a result.
Before one can develop a marketing strategy, determine the appropriate marketing mix, develop and implement a plan that will bring the business a sufficient return on investment for their marketing dollars, or design an advertisement, one must first determine what the parameters within which one must design one's marketing strategy are. Although one could take one's marketing budget and spread it across as many categories of the marketing mix as possible in an attempt to increase coverage of one's product or service, strategic marketing demands a more considered, systematic approach that takes into account not only the product but the internal and external factors that affect how the product or service might best be marketed. Typically, successful marketing campaigns start with a marketing or promotional policy. This is a set of principles and guidelines based on an analysis of the organization's goals, objectives, resources, and plans. Typically, policies are set by the organization's governing body (e.g., board of directors) and are used to develop strategy and guide decision making in support of meeting the organization's goals and objectives.
Factors to Consider
As shown in Figure 1, promotional policies need to consider at least four factors affecting the best way to market or promote a product or service:
- The characteristics of the product or service;
- The characteristics of the target market;
- The corporate image that the organization wishes to portray;
- Any ethical considerations in the marketing of the product or service.
The characteristics of the products or services being marketed by the organization have an obvious impact on the way that marketing is done. Not all products and services are best promoted in the same way. For example, a television spot advertising a high-end business consulting service would probably yield more results if placed on an all news channel rather than an all cartoon channel. In addition, the nature of the target market also influences the way that goods and services are most appropriately marketed. For example, a few years ago, a business bought air time on two local radio stations: One a classical station and the other a rock station. The narrative of the ads was the same, but the background music was different to reflect the musical tastes of the audiences of the respective stations. Unfortunately, somewhere in the process, the ads were switched so that the classical station received the ad with the rock music and the rock station received the ad with the classical music. Soon thereafter, the stations started playing an apology from the business that had sponsored the ads: Numerous regular listeners of both stations had called in to complain about the appropriateness of the ads. Although the business had attempted to segment the target market into categories and tailor its advertising to appeal to the tastes of the segments, the execution fell short, ending in a lower return on investment than expected.
The characteristics of the product or service and of the target market or market segment are important aspects of marketing, particularly when designing a marketing campaign that will maximize one's return on investment. In addition, an organization must consider what place it wishes to occupy within its industry. Corporate image is the perception of an organization -- generally held by the public. To cultivate its corporate image, a business needs to participate in activities that...
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