Magazine article Marketing

Is It Still Sales Promotion?

Magazine article Marketing

Is It Still Sales Promotion?

Article excerpt

So what is it then? Sales promotion, direct marketing, marketing communications or integrated communications? The answer will depend on the agency you talk to

Is sales promotion eventually going to merge with direct marketing? There is certainly an overlap. Many sales promotion consultancies now use direct marketing techniques as a matter of course, and some of the keenest advocates, like Robert Prevezer of The Communications Agency, claim that it becomes increasingly difficult to label work either sales promotion or direct marketing. Similarly, few direct marketing offers are made which do not contain a promotional element.

There are some (in the sales promotion industry, let it be stressed) who are calling for a merger of the trade bodies, the Direct Marketing Association and the Institute of Sales Promotion.

And yet voices are heard the other way. There are just as many who argue that direct marketing is moving closer to conventional advertising, particularly with the growth of direct response press and TV advertising. Adam Richardson managing partner of The Powerhouse Consultancy, argues forcibly that the management style, investment requirements and work undertaken -- particularly in planning -- of direct marketing are so akin to advertising that they make better bedmates.

Companies such as Option One and Limbo are sufficiently aware of the cultural differences between direct marketing and sales promotion to have gone out of their way to recruit senior DM specialists. But Option One chairman Bob Bayley stresses that his consultancy -- "against the trend" -- doesn't see itself as a hybrid "direct promotions agency". Instead it is a sales promotion and direct marketing consultancy.

In any case, Keith Bantick, chairman of Promotional Campaigns, says scornfully that he's been using direct marketing since the mid-70s, so there's nothing new about it. But he is doing more of it now, as part of an integrated approach for clients who want to see sales promotion, trade marketing and direct marketing working together.

And this may be the real clue. It is not that there is a natural merger occurring between sales promotion and direct marketing -- or no more than there is between advertising and direct marketing. Rather, it is that sales promotion has a particular need to expand beyond its traditional boundaries, at a time when some clients are willing to allocate a broader range of work to an agency offering an integrated range of services. Sales promotion and direct marketing, yes, but also literature design, exhibitions (in the form of road-shows), market research, public relations, some advertising. …

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