Last week I discussed how advertising could be used as a “pull strategy” by being aimed solely at end users and communicating messages that establish awareness and provide information about a new company, product, or service. Sometimes advertising is used to enhance a company’s “good will”, so we feel better about them. While not directly related to a specific product, these types of ads are useful in building an overall brand identity.
Promotion differs from advertising because it usually involves immediate incentives for the buyer. Incentives can be aimed at either the end consumer (e.g., special events, sampling, rebates, freebies, coupons, etc.) or the distribution channel (e.g., training programs, provision of point-of-purchase displays, etc.).
Distribution channel promotion (also known as trade promotion) is directed at resellers or other members of the distribution channel. The incentives they are provided are intended to push a product or service on the end user, so we call trade promotions a “push strategy.”
What does all this mean to the typical designer, and how have I intended to make you smarter with this knowledge? My hope is that you will ask your client (if it’s not already written up in the creative brief) who the “ad” you have been asked to design is for. Is the audience intended to be the end user or distribution channel? Will the “ad” be providing specific information to build awareness, or incentives to make a purchase?
The way you approach the design of the “ad” should be different depending on whether the message being communicated is traditional advertising or promotion. The call to action is different, as is the timeframe for how and where it’s going to be seen. When you demonstrate that you understand this, your clients will see you more as a partner in executing their communications strategies.