The 7 Types of Promotion

Ultimately, almost all promotional strategy consists of a mix of specific promotion types. Each of these delivers the organisation's message in a different way: reaching different parts of the buying public at different points in the buying process. Though there are thousands or millions of different ways to combine them in your promotional campaign, almost every campaign uses one or more of just seven different promotional types: personal selling, direct marketing, advertising, public relations, sponsorship, sales promotion, and digital. 

Before we dive deep into them, you need to know who you are selling to. What is your ideal marketing persona and how to market in the age of controversy?  

Personal Selling       

Personal selling is the oldest form of promotion. It takes place generally face to face or over the telephone, when a company representative speaks with someone in charge of purchasing decisions (such as a manger, consumer, or company buyer) and persuades them to place an order.

The advantage of personal selling is that the message is always custom-tailored to the prospective customer. If the consumer doesn't understand or respond to one message, the sales rep can take a different approach in order to address the customer's needs better.        

Unfortunately, the in-person nature of personal selling can also be a major drawback. Personal selling is labour intensive and many sales reps have a personality that does not quite resonate with the client. Many people have experienced sales people who were overly aggressive, annoying, or repetitive in their pitch, and this can turn off customers.     

Social Media Marketing 

Mastering social media is a must-have if you intend for your business to survive a competitive marketplace. Even if you feel like social channels are wasting too much time, you have no excuse.  Nine out of 10 companies report they don’t have the requisite skills to leverage social media as a business tool.

If you want to grow followers, get likes, drive traffic and get shares on social media, I suggest you should try DigitalOcto. is an amazing social media growth tool. You do not need to have any experience to start growing your social media pages. DigitalOcto has it all - you can create eye-catching, beautifully branded visual posts without any design skills and publish them to social media in as little as a few minutes. If you do not have an idea what to post, DigitalOcto has over 1500 editable design tamplates based on current social media trends, holidays and events. When I started using DigitalOcto, I was a bit skeptical. But gradually as I watched how social media channels were growing, I felt confident that this is the right way to go.

Direct Marketing      

Direct marketing is a form of promotion where the company reaches out directly to the prospective client using mail or other media. Direct mail is the best-known version of this, and it is often cheaper than traditional forms of advertising. Direct mail makes it possible to precisely tailor your message and laser-target your market. (Direct mail should always be selectively sent to people who are likely to buy, rather than shipped out to everyone in a database.)      

The advantage is that direct marketing promotions are easy and fast to roll out. It's often possible to design and mail a promotion within a few days or weeks. It's also an effective way to test out prices and products while keeping control of which customer receives which promotion or offer.         

Unfortunately, direct marketing, in particular direct mail, is often viewed by customers as "junk mail." Therefore, companies run the risk of being seen as obtrusive.  

General Advertising

Advertising refers to impersonal paid promotions which use mass media to deliver a message. These include things like newspaper or magazine space ads, TV spots, Internet banners, and outdoor billboards or posters.    

The upside of advertising is it's an excellent way to reach a large numbers of people. Though it's not targeted, it can be an excellent way to do a branding campaign or boost awareness.         

Unfortunately, because advertising is not very targeted the return on investment tends to be lower. In industries where everyone advertises, the ads may also get "lost in the noise."           

Public Relations       

Public relations is the art of using non-paid media (such as news) to draw attention to the company. Sending out press releases announcing news is the best-known form of public relations, but there are many other methods also.    

The major benefit of public relations is the effect of a single "success" is much greater than nearly any other form of promotion. Third party sources like newspapers are seen as much more authoritative and trustworthy, and far more people read the articles in a newspaper than look at the ads.

However, traditional news is no longer as widely read by the public as it once was, so traditional PR efforts are also less effective. 


Sponsorship generally involves supplying resources (such as money) to a group or an event in exchange for advertising or publicity. Companies will often help fund athletes, teams, or events in exchange for having their logo prominently visible, for example.       

Sponsorship provides an excellent way to "buy" publicity and place the company logo somewhere people pay close attention -- such as on the clothing of a well-liked athlete. The downside is sponsorship is often extremely expensive and may not provide the ROI of other advertising methods, and there is a risk if the sponsored individual does something unpopular that it will reflect badly on the company.         

Sales Promotion      

Sales promotions use short-term offers or giveaways such as promotional pens to incentivise a purchase.

The idea is that customers will feel compelled to "act now" to take advantage of the limited time offer, or will be more likely to prefer a brand they've received something useful. However, too many short-term sales promotions can increase customer price sensitivity or eliminate the response.

Digital Promotions  

All web-/ digital device-focused promotions fall under the category of digital promotion, from online advertising to social media to viral and "advergaming."      

Digital tends to be much cheaper and faster to create, however consumers are largely desensitised to digital methods due to a high level of "spam." The response rate of digital promotions tends to be low.

About the author

Alex Pejak is an economist currently working on a few projects in Australia. She is interested in topics related to market research and career development.


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