Caught between TiVo and the 500+ digital cable channels that are weakening their mass advertising strategy, marketers are turning more and more to sales promotions to get their sales message across.

In the last few years, the percentage of ad budgets earmarked for this sector has increased and there has been a proliferation of sales promotion companies ready to aid big-budget advertisers for an often steep, though deserved, fee.

But if you don't have the budget to hire yet another agency or would like to see your present agency or marketing team come up with cash-register-ringing promotions themselves, because no one knows the business better, where do you and your team turn?

Also, what about the countless promotional proposals that come across your desk? How do you determine which are right for you and your brand?

And most important, how do you ensure the integrity and proper targeting of your brand when developing and executing promotions?

Integration has become a key concept in marketing of late, and for good reason. How do you make sure your sales promotions communicate every aspect of your brand or product, all the time, without causing harm to either?

Too often promotions come about because a vendor, TV station, network or distributor submits a less-than-perfect promotional concept to you. You may choose to go ahead with the promotion, but only because you have nothing better in your arsenal. Sometimes, a marketing team at another company thinks their brand is a “good-fit” with yours, but no one knows how best to exploit the relationship. Other times, you get your team together for an impromptu brainstorming session that may lead to some good ideas. But are they the best?

A Matrix

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Gary Shaffer is a 15-year-plus veteran of advertising and marketing firms, including J. Walter Thompson and D’Arcy Advertising. He recently received his Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California, where he taught at the Marshall School of Business. Contact him through his Web site: