One Blog |July 15, 2010 | POS Tracking Software

Marketing At-Retail: Advertising vs. Promotion

Mark Fullerton


If you’re looking for a marketing approach that can immediately pay off in increased sales, it is essential to understand the impact placing different weight on various components of your marketing mix. This post identifies two of the key components of a marketing plan and makes the case for alcohol beverage distributors to focus on promotion in order to achieve immediate sales growth and easily measurable ROI.

For our purpose, Marketing includes both advertising and promotion.  Alcohol beverage distributors typically do not participate in national or regional advertising.  Its costs, and its lack of a locally targeted message, make it a less effective marketing approach for distributors.  However, locally targeted promotion does seem to have a strong payback for distributors.


Advertising, especially national advertising is generally managed by the supplier or manufacturer. Due to its significant cost it is rarely the distributor’s responsibility.  Advertising is intended to create and build the national or global image of a brand name or product.  Overall brand equity or identity is built by advertising.  Global, national and regional advertising campaigns for beverages, cars and cosmetics are intended to create and build a brand, an image of a product or company in the minds of consumers. Such campaigns frequently span years.  Often, advertising campaigns are, in comparison to promotional campaigns, subtle.  The impact of an ad campaign is rarely intended to generate an immediate, local, sales uptick.


Promotion, on the other hand, is generally localized. It’s intended to be short-term and have immediate impact; and sales promotion is usually anything but subtle.  Promotion is meant to persuade the customer — right now — to make a decision and take action.  The decision and action most desired is for the customer to choose and buy the product being promoted.

Effective marketing campaigns must include both advertising and promotion.  Yet, from the perspective of measurable sale objectives, marketing at-retail or promotion at the point of sale (POS) — works better.  Super-bowl ads, even if they are long-remembered, are no match for POS promotional materials when an immediate increase in sales is the goal.

Another advantage of point of sale marketing, or promotion, is that its impact can be more easily evaluated than advertising. Due in part to the time periods they are run and the localization of POS campaigns, ROI for promotions can easily and quickly be calculated.  POS Tracking Software simplifies even further both the collection of data and the production of ROI reporting. Advertising’s impact on results, on the other hand, is considerably more difficult, time consuming and expensive to measure.


Those businesses that spend more for promotion than advertising understand the impact of Marketing At-Retail with POS Marketing Materials.  Moreover, it suggests that they value both the rapid customer acceptance and sales campaign ROI that comes as a result of effective and timely POS promotion.  They also believe a comparable investment in advertising has a smaller likelihood of helping them achieve their immediate sales goals.

Mark Fullerton

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