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On the web and various online articles on promotion and marketing, I very often see the use of « marketing » to replace promotion. But what is the difference between the two and why is it important? In a previous article we talked about marketing and the management of the four, five and more "Ps".

The four basic "Ps" are: price, product, place and, of course, promotion. Nowadays many include an additional "P" for people who have become an essential part of the marketing mix. So the "P" that interests us is the promotion one. This "P" encompasses all the activities that are done to make the product known, to sell and to build a brand.

Why is it important to distinguish between promotion and marketing? Because it helps to foster the notion that marketing is only in charge of a company’s promotional activities. Some concepts such as: "How can sales and marketing work together?” are emerging, when in reality sales are part of marketing. There is an integration.

Is this true for all companies? Not always. Several companies transfer the different elements of marketing to other departments and essentially keep the promotional activities for marketing which reinforces the notion. Why do they do that? Often companies will organize themselves to respond effectively to the constraints of the market and to the needs of their clients. An example is aviation companies. The product dimension, both in terms of design and development, is so extensive that a large part of the company's resources is allocated to it. To claim that marketing manages this part of the business is an illusion; marketing might have a say with some elements, but its role is limited. Same thing goes for the sales function. Throughout the world there are few companies buying aircraft and the sales cycle is very long. The sales function becomes a completely separate entity. Finally what is left for the marketing department to do is, for these companies, promotion. Does this mean that we have to rethink the marketing function? No. There is a difference between the way a company is structured and the distribution of a company's activities according to spheres of function to articulate its strategic thinking. This way of thinking extends as well to agencies. Many say they are marketing agencies when in fact they only deal with the promotional/advertising functions.

What do they do?

A marketing agency deals with all the elements included in the marketing mix:

  • Product development or service definition
  • Pricing
  • How the product or service will be shipped to customers
  • Promotional strategies (including sales, advertising and communications)
  • Communication and feedback strategies for the "people" component
  • An advertising agency acts mainly on a promotional level. Thus the primary purpose of advertising agencies will be to help their clients in:

  • Writing the message
  • The choice of the medium
  • Strategy to buy advertising
  • Establishing frequency of announcements
  • Development of promotions
  • Development of brand awareness, etc...
  • If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
    Marketing consultant