Promotion is one of the infamous “4 Ps” of marketing (product, price, promotion, place) that is often confused for the only function of marketing. Within a firm’s “Promotion Mix” there are five methods to consider, only one of which is advertising. A promotion strategy should include a combination of the five methods to maximize the benefits of each of the strategies.
Benefits: Advertising reaches a large audience and builds awareness for a relatively smaller cost per person. If your goal is to broadcast a message to a wide group of less targeted recipients, this is the best promotion method. It typically involves mass communication via newspapers, magazines, banner ads, etc.
Limitations: There is less control of who receives the message in this method, and measuring the outcomes can be more difficult. Also, the message is considered less personal because it is paid for by a sponsor.
Strategies for law firms: If your firm is new use advertising as a promotion method to announce the firm. Advertising could also be effective if your firm is involved in a well-publicized issue, or in general if you have a large-scale message or offer.
Benefits: Personal selling is person-to-person communication where interaction occurs so that the salesperson has the chance to inform, persuade, and customize the offer for each buyer. This results in a better relationship between the your firm and client so is usually more effective. These promotions typically involve a high level of consumer attention and customized messages such as introductory discounts.
Limitations: Personal selling takes more time and effort than the other methods of promotion and therefore is more costly per client. So it is more effective than the other elements, yet less efficient.
Strategies for law firms: Personal selling should be the main method of promotion that most law firms employ. The ability to relate to clients and advocate individual solutions for their needs directly correlates with the benefits of personal selling.
Benefits: Sales promotions are defined as incentives to encourage a purchase such as coupons or temporary price reductions. They should always be used as a short-term strategy and only to influence behavior, not the perceptions of potential clients.
Limitations: Sales promotions can temporarily increase the flow of traffic to your firm, but should always be used as a temporary promotion strategy to avoid stockpiling and so it does not lower the brand perception.
Strategies for law firms: The most relevant methods of sales promotions that a law firm might use would be special prices (temporary reduction of a regular price) or promotion at trade shows. Otherwise thi sis normally a promotion method used by retail companies.
Benefits: Publicity is similar to advertising in that it broadcasts to a wide audience yet is less personal. However since it is not paid for by the firm publicity is received as unbiased reports from journalists and generally is perceived as having more credibility. Most social media would fit into this category.
Limitations: Publicity can be difficult to manage since a firm cannot always control what people write or say, which is a common issue in social media where negative opinions can quickly gain traction if left unattended.
Strategies for law firms: Press releases, sponsorship (event, club or team, or other type of public activity), and social media are all methods of public relations.
Benefits: Using a direct marketing strategy as your promotion method can combine the effects of advertising with targeted messages. Sending personalized materials to a named person in a targeted group can garner a greater response rate than generic advertising. Direct marketing allows a firm to consistently provide messages to support its brand.
Limitations: Promotions via direct marketing are better than generic ads, however not as good as personal selling. Additionally, acquiring a great database of target clients may be difficult or impossible which would reduce overall success.
Strategies for law firms: Email marketing and mass mailings are the most common methods of direct marketing. Email marketing provides a number of benefits over printed material by being lower in cost and offering detailed campaign tracking.
Determining which promotion method to use
To determine the best combination of promotion tools, consider your available resources (budget), target market size, and customer information needs. Your promotion mix should be a combination of the above methods. While advertising is generally seen as the most obvious answer because it is so prevalent, depending on your target audience and overall marketing goals it may not be appropriate for your firm. Also, personal selling is often overlooked as a promotion method when most firms should be employing this as their most effective promotion tool.