What Is Promotional Marketing? Your Guide to Getting Started

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover what promotional marketing entails and how to build a promotional marketing strategy to meet your professional goals.

[Featured image] Two marketing team members work on a promotional marketing campaign.

What is promotional marketing? 

Promotional marketing refers to the process of sharing knowledge about a brand, product, or service through multiple marketing channels to increase brand awareness. Promotional marketing is one of the 4Ps of marketing, also called the marketing mix, which includes product, price, place, and promotion.

Marketing vs. promotion 

Marketing and promotion share some similarities in that they both involve raising  consumers’ brand awareness. But there are some important differences to keep in mind, as explored in the table below. 

Consists of many activities that include promotionIs one component of marketing
Focuses on the needs, goals, challenges, and desires of a target marketFocuses on the success of a brand or product

Promotional marketing can benefit your business in several ways, including:


  • Introducing new products and services alongside existing ones

  • Developing positive brand equity

  • Keeping customers informed about your brand 

  • Differentiating your brand from competitors 

  • Fostering brand loyalty

  • Inspiring potential customers to take action 

  • Converting prospects into customers 

  • Driving more sales 

Types of promotional marketing 

Promotional marketing can take several forms. It’s a good idea to become familiar with them so you can select the best promotional marketing approach for your business. Here are the different types: 

  • Personal selling: one-to-one communication with a potential customer 

  • Advertising: paid promotion of a brand and its products

  • Direct marketing: direct communication or distribution to customers, such as through email, mail, social media, or text

  • Sales promotions: discounts, cash back, free shipping, or other incentives to stimulate purchases

  • Public relations: improving a brand’s image based on consumers’ positive and negative associations with it

Promotional marketing strategies 

If you’re ready to launch a promotional marketing campaign, your next step is to review different strategies, so that you can employ the tactics that will work best for your business. Examine four strategies below:  

Email marketing 

Email marketing as a promotional marketing strategy involves sending email communication to your list of subscribers to promote a brand’s events, products, or even its values and mission.  

Social media marketing

To use social media in your promotional marketing strategy, post blogs and other content that can drive traffic back to your site, create unique hashtags to engage your audience, and use promotional keywords like “giveaways,” “holiday sale,” and “new [type of product].” 

Read more: What Is a Social Media Marketer? And How to Become One

Content marketing 

In content marketing, articles, videos, podcasts, and other media are used to communicate your brand’s benefits. It can also explore new aspects of your brand’s mission and values, address target customers’ pain points, and more. 

Read more: What Is SEO Marketing? + How to Improve Your SEO

Influencer marketing 

Influencer marketing is a popular method brands use to promote their products, mission, and values. Influencers are social media users or public figures who’ve built a dedicated following based on their content. They often collaborate with brands to personally endorse items or messages they admire in exchange for free products or monetary compensation.

To use influencer marketing as part of your promotional marketing strategy, connect with influencers whose audiences resemble your ideal customer. Then, collaborate with them to generate promotional content.   

How to write a promotional marketing plan 

Now that you know the different types of promotional marketing and some strategies you can use, begin building a plan to promote your business. Follow the steps below to streamline your process. 

1. Determine your budget. 

The scope of your budget will influence your promotional marketing activities. Take inventory of the resources you have available for promotion, ensuring there are enough for developing products, investing in tools, paying employees, and covering other expenses. You might consider keeping your promotional marketing budget small at the outset of a campaign and then gradually increasing the budget according to how your audience responds.  

2. Identify your promotional goals.

Once you know your budget, the next step is to identify goals that are achievable with your allotted budget and aligned with your overall business goals. Make sure your goals are specific, and the results can be measured during a specific period, such as quarterly or every six months. 

For example:

  • Gain 100 new social media followers each month.

  • Convert 20 percent of next week’s event participants into paying customers. 

  • Increase email subscribers by 50 percent over six months. 

3. Refine your buyer personas. 

Review any material on your target audience, ideal customers, buyer personas, and existing customers, and get very specific about the kinds of consumers you will be focusing on for promotions. 

  • What need or desire could your brand and its products fulfill?

  • What do they experience that your brand and its products could address?

  • What promotional content would attract new customers or reengage existing ones? 

4. Choose your strategies, channels, and tactics. 

After considering your budget, goals, and buyer personas, the next step is to get clear on your action plan. Which marketing channels will you use to reach potential customers? What types of promotional marketing will you focus on, from personal selling and paid advertising to direct marketing or public relations? What specific strategies and tactics will you try? 

Examples of tactics include: 

  • Running a contest on social media 

  • Offering giveaways through email 

  • Generating content that informs your audience about new products 

  • Hosting a live event 

5. Execute and evaluate. 

Once you’ve established your plan, begin putting it into action. After passing the three-month or six-month mark, analyze your results against your goals. Where did you exceed your expectations? What areas of your promotional marketing plan can you improve to achieve better results?

Read more: Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

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