The Four Ps of Marketing: Promotion

Promotion refers to advertising, sales marketing and promotional strategy, and public relations. For this reason, it is also the most prominent part of the marketing mix.

Promotion connects with the other parts of the marketing mix by making prospective customers aware of a product in the channels they inhabit, why they need said product, and why it would be in their interest to pay a specific price for it. Promotion ties in most closely with the place, given product positioning, is most intertwined in promoting the good or service toward its intended customer.

Philip Kotler

“Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.”

As media has evolved over time, the promotion has moved beyond traditional avenues, such as radio, television, and print, toward online communities with user bases totaling in the hundreds of millions. Promotion therefore increasingly relies on these relatively new mediums to not only solve the standard marketing challenges associated with putting the product in front of the intended audience but also to attract the attention of these individuals in new and meaningful ways with specialized forms of content.

Developing Promotional Strategy

The promotional strategy relies on gathering the data on where your targeted audience is and how to develop the most optimal ads to interact with these potential customers.

This means finding the right promotional avenue. Is it through an online channel, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Is it through blogs and websites in your niche that attract your intended audience? Is it through print media, mail, television, radio, or billboards? Is boosting your public relations campaigns a viable strategy? Should email outreach be expanded or better optimized (e.g., attracting back customers who’ve previously done business with your company)?

Promotions are also time-sensitive. In email and social media campaigns, if most of your intended audience lives in the United States, close to half of this population lives in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Thus digital marketing campaigns should ideally be targeted to when the targeted customer base is most likely to be online and ideally without a rash of items competing for this audience’s attention.

This will also vary based on the day and type of customer. For example, if your product is daily financial markets commentary, this would need to be delivered relatively early in the morning such that it’s useful for the day ahead. On the other hand, most emails are ideally not best sent out at 6 AM to avoid being buried under dozens of other emails once your typical prospective customer begins reading emails some 2-3 hours later.

Additionally, some businesses are seasonal. If you have a Christmas tree business, you have approximately a seven-week window to do your marketing during the year. Any sooner (before November 1) or later (after December 25) and there is likely to be a lack of interest. The promotional strategy is also likely to change within this timeframe. Toward the beginning, ads and promotions might be likely to point to the variety and quality of the inventory selection. If you have excess inventory in the last few days before Christmas, promotions are likely to shift and focus on discounted pricing in order to clear the excess supply.

If you’re in apparel retail and a popular and bigger competitor is having a semi-annual sale where promotional campaigns heavily pick up for them leading up to it, you might wish to promote a major sales event 1-2 weeks before theirs. Knowing that you can compete on better pricing, quality, and/or convenience, you may capture some of the sales that would have otherwise gone to them.

If you are a public company relying on an important capital raise the next quarter to fund your future operations, the stock price will be important to you as it will help determine how successful it’s likely to be. With public companies reporting on a quarterly basis, if you expect to lag analysts’ estimates, you might wish to pull forward demand by hosting end-of-the-quarter sales events to meet revenue and/or earnings per share baselines.

If your goal is to promote an exclusive product, then you are more likely to promote to visual social networks like Instagram over something like Twitter, which is more geared toward news distribution and a short-form text primitive. If you have a luxury brand, a promotional strategy should be geared toward providing content that appeals to your intended customer’s desire to display status. If there are stories behind the products sold and the brand heritage, make them known to add to the allure of the product.

Moreover, always keep tabs on what your competitors are doing in their promotional campaigns. View their website(s), social media pages, and other distribution channels. If they are a multi-billion dollar company (or an important competitor regardless of their current market value), you can be reasonably assured that the ads they display are fairly well optimized. Business is not just about copying competitors but rather ideally leading the way and having robust competitive advantages in the product markets you target. However, knowing what your competition is doing to potentially ascertain blind spots or shortcomings in your own promotional campaigns is essential for executives and marketers to keep track of.


Promotion ties in all of the other three Ps as it pertains to the sales strategy and advertising surrounding a product.

First, it addresses why the product meets the intended audience’s needs. Particularly among price-sensitive customers, it will convey how it’s purchasable at a favorable price. How will they find it in the retail channels they frequent (place)?

Promotion wraps these elements into one by communicating these details within the marketing and sales strategy undertaken by the company via the mediums your targeted customer base is most likely to frequent.