I know what you’re thinking, it’s taken me a long time to finally write about the Fourth P in the marketing mix! Well, not really because I write about PROMOTION all the time. 

4th P of the marketing mix. McCormick L.A.

If you need to go back, here are the links to the first 3 Ps of the Marketing Mix. 




I’m using the explanation that I learned in college to address this. Keep reading. We divide PROMOTION broadly into two categories: ADVERTISING and PUBLIC RELATIONS. 


You dictate every aspect of an ad. You choose what you are promoting, the headline, tagline, body copy, where it goes, the size of the ad, how often it appears and so on. In its simplest definition it is paid persuasion. 


This is not as exact as advertising, nit that the results of advertising are exact either. There are some well researched tips that will help, but its title explains it all: you want to create a relationship with your public. Interpret ‘public’ specifically as your target audience. The PR comes through in how you greet people, what you care about in the community, and all those other things you know that have made you better in your relationships. If your customers visit you, simply be a good host. Do you like how the service personnel you visit in a month treat you? Your hairdresser or barber, your barista, the wait staff at your favorite lunch spot all likely make you feel good. The experiences you have at each place leave an impression that makes you favor them over the competition. 

One or the Other or Both

Now that you know these are the two main broad categories, you are going to be able to separate your promotional efforts clearly. Don’t confuse the vehicles with the tactics. As you know, you can use social media to help you create a relationship AND you can place ads on your social media platforms. Similar to placing an ad in a newspaper AND issuing a press release that earned you several column inches in the same paper. A healthy balance of both will usually bring about the best results. 

There are so many facets of each of these that I am not going to get into in this blog post. Stay tuned!

Check the data for your marketing and public relations results.

The Number One Objection to This Dual Approach:

What About Sales?

Yes, SALES! Think about this for one second and you will realize that sales is not parallel with advertising and promotion. It moves up the organizational chart, if you will, and is a peer to MARKETING. 

The SALES and MARKETING departments in companies work symbiotically. Remember, the 4Ps are PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE, PROMOTION. The sales department overwhelmingly informs this process. Let’s look at a car as our imaginary product. The research and development department of your favorite auto maker designed a new car to please today’s drivers. The marketing department created a strategy to sell this car to the most likely driver of this car, determined the best price and financing options, determined in what cities and regions to launch it, and has activated a robust advertising and PR campaign all about this new car. 

The sales team waits on the lot for the prospects to show-up. They deliver their best sales pitch and the results are lukewarm. 


The sales team is a stellar group who has never been in a slump, so it’s not their abilities standing in the way of a sale. It’s either the product, the price, the place, or the promotion. The sales team is your front line to your customers. Their feedback is the most important in all of this! 

The marketing team eagerly listens to everything that the sales team tells them and then assesses what they can change easily, changing the promotion is usually the easiest. Whether they can change the larger issues within a reasonable cost is what they discuss. If they cannot, they might scrap the project. 

Make sense? Sales is not a form of promotion exactly, it is the genesis and delivery system of the whole marketing mix. If you are juggling it all yourself then this is a very fluid process for you. You need to decide what you’re willing to change if you are not able to meet your goals. 


Timing might be the most important part of promotion. If our imaginary car was a convertible but due to delays it came out in winter, then undoubtedly the initial sales could be slow in less than sunny climes. Waiting it out might solve the whole problem. Other factors might make waiting it out impossible, unfortunately. 

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits iavailable now on Amazon. Call her for help with your promotion. If you found this post helpful, please leave a note here. 

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