While many in the small business community use the words “advertising” and “promotions” interchangeably, each facet of marketing represents a different method of delivering your message and your product to potential clients. Advertising focuses on delivering information about your product or service over the long term and works to publicize and educate the public about that brand. Promotional marketing aims specifically to drives sales in the short term by influencing customers and pushing them closer to making a decision about buying.


Promotional contests attract customers to your business. Not only is the allure of getting something for free alluring, but so is the opportunity to come out on top. Contests that require multiple trips for multiple entries drive customers back to your product again and again. In the social media realm, contests bring users back to landing pages over and over. Contests that require customers to “like” or “retweet” information to receive additional entries serve as amplification for your message. Contest entrants take care of your promotion for you by inviting their social network to like and retweet as well. While large businesses might be able to offer large contest prizes, small businesses need not invest in outrageous incentives. If your business provides services like design or massage, offer contestants the chance to win a free consultation or a free massage. If you provide products, offer something you can afford to write-off as a marketing expense.


Coupons and discounts offer savings incentives to lure customers into stores and businesses. Customers must pull the trigger on a purchase or miss out on the savings. Businesses who participate in daily deal online coupons create loss leaders that attract and promote their services and business at a deep discount to encourage customers to step foot in the door so they either make larger purchases or become subscribers to a business. Small businesses should look into the cost-effectiveness of daily deals. While these online programs can provide increased reach, sometimes offering your own discount through your own social media page or website is enough to allow you to come out ahead.


Giving away free samples or free promotional products might cost in the short term, however sometimes to create a new customer you need to give them a taste of your product. Freebies and handouts at events like grand openings and trade shows might be as simple as nice promotional pens or as robust as a free consultation. While it can be difficult to offer physical products over social media and the internet without incurring hefty mailing fees, larger brands like Kashi have just that offering customers the choice of free samples of the snack of the customer’s choice straight to their mailbox. Starbucks avoids shipping costs by offering customers weekly downloads. Coupon codes may be picked up in-store or downloaded straight through the Starbucks app.

Small businesses can look to these promotional models and offer in-store freebies or develop free promotional material for their websites and company profiles. For instance, coding a free insurance calculator into your insurance business’s site or a digital makeover program into your hair salon’s site keeps driving traffic back to your site encouraging sales. You can then collate the information and visualize it using something like Microsoft’s Power BI to see which market segments converted best, and target them from there. Promotions work hand in hand with things like media buys and social media strategies. Use to promotional marketing to capitalize on your advertising in order to drive your sales and increase traffic to your small business.

Author's Bio: 

Rob is a professional technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of cybersecurity and technology. He is also an online marketing expert – currently associated with technology and advertising company in India & Hongkong.