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What Are the Similarities between Advertising and Promotion?

By Jan Fletcher
Updated May 16, 2024
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The similarities between advertising and promotion include a focus on ensuring a profitable sales strategy, and stimulating the appetite for a company's goods or services. In both cases, the marketing department generally has extensive involvement in advertising and promotional activities. Each area usually employs the company's brand and reputation to increase sales revenue, whether this is done through advertising or by promoting the company. The main difference between the two is in the strategic timeline, with advertising driven by a longer-term vision, and promotion often being of a shorter duration.

For-profit companies often spend significant resources to ensure sales are sufficient to keep the company's operations profitable. The advertising and promotion staff of a company both have a critical role to play in stimulating sales, and both generally work together to enhance the company's offerings in the eyes of its customer base. Advertising campaigns may broadcast promotions intended to stimulate demand for particular products. At other times, advertising may sometimes focus more on brand awareness than increasing immediate sales. Both advertising and promotion may be used in tandem to tout the company's reputation, too.

Marketing managers often oversee advertising and promotion activities for a company. It is generally wise to have a manager oversee both activities to ensure consistency in executing the company's marketing strategy. For example, an ad campaign touting a company's historic past may be paired with a temporary promotion offering a historic souvenir that reminds customers of the original founder. This could be a special mug handed out when a premium drink is purchased at a restaurant, for example.

Consistency in using a brand is something that both the advertising manager and the promotions manager generally keep at the forefront of their respective activities. When one plans a promotion, the other may prepare a media release to accompany advertising materials that may be produced according to standards that the marketing department has set in place. Management may determine branding standards and public relations policies for both departments to ensure advertising and promotion activities work in tandem.

What sets the two activities apart is the scope of the strategy, with one being oriented more toward a long-term investment, and the other often geared toward a big splash, with a quick push toward moving certain merchandise. Advertising strategies often seek to implant a brand's reputation in a person's mind, regardless of how the company's product line may change over time. It is frequently used to sell the company's brand identity. On the other hand, when the company releases a new product, management may launch a promotional campaign to stimulate demand for that product.

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Discussion Comments
By shell4life — On Apr 25, 2012

I am probably the exception, but as a consumer, I don't generally respond to promotional advertising. I don't like crowds, so I actually avoid huge sales and big events. I don't like to compete for merchandise, so I wait until all the sales are over, or I go shopping at odd times of the day.

I respond more to regular old advertising. If I hear about a business through an ad that doesn't announce a sale, I am more likely to go to the business.

Sometimes, customers like to hear about what services or products you have to offer rather than how cheap they will be for a limited time. It can pay to do regular advertising, even when you don't have something special going on at the time.

By OeKc05 — On Apr 24, 2012

General advertising doesn't always result in an immediate response. Customers don't get too excited about an ad stating what a business is and how long it has been around.

However, promotion prompts a quick reaction from the public. It involves things like a big sale that only lasts for a week or a weekend, and it emphasizes the fact that you had better hurry up and come in, because quantities are limited, and the sale will be over soon.

I do think that both are necessary. Sometimes, you don't have any sales to offer, but you don't want customers to forget about you. A generalized ad can serve to remind them that you are still there.

By Oceana — On Apr 24, 2012

@wavy58 – You could also argue that a grand opening sale and ceremony is used to advertise the very existence of the company. Even though the promotion is focused on the event itself and the discounts offered to the first however many customers that come through the door, it is also being used to make consumers aware of the business.

I do think that this specific type of advertising is more of a promotion technique than an attempt to establish a company's identity, though. That type of advertising could come later on, once the place has been around for awhile and can find things to boast about.

One bank that has been in my town for fifty years holds the bragging rights to reputation advertising. No other bank can boast that they have served the area this long, so they just hold promotional cookouts and give away free food instead in an attempt to draw in new customers.

By wavy58 — On Apr 23, 2012

I've always thought that advertising and promotion were the same thing. Since promotion is accomplished through advertising, you rarely have one without the other.

I do see how advertising aimed at promoting a specific product line could differ from advertising a company's reputation, though. You could argue that the advertising is being used to promote the company in general, however.

When I think of promotion, I usually think of the things that occur when a new business is opening. Grand opening ceremonies and sales are a big form of promotion, because they focus on getting customers in through specific offers.

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