Sales promotion is a type of product marketing strategy aimed at boosting sales through attracting traffic, introducing a new product and influencing the purchase of a product. Public relations serve to enhance the image of the company to the public i.e., the community.
The objective of this assignment is to investigate how different industries incorporate public relations and sales promotion into their activities (Tench & Yeomans 2009, p. 645). It is meant to investigate and analyze how best PR and sales promotion can be integrated into a business strategy so as to achieve maximum results and also to show how PR can be used to solve a mistake that can harm a company.
This report chose the publishing industry under the women’s tabloid magazine, as it pertains to media marketing which is a very big player in recording huge sales. The publishing industry is really broad and rakes in billions of dollars every year (Wilcox 2003, p. 421). The publishing industry incorporates a lot of companies ranging from those that deal with books, journals, newspapers, business media and magazines. The industry started off majorly as a printing firm but due to its rapid growth and change, digital media is now inevitably an effective way of passing across the message efficiently to the readers.
The chosen industry also effectively relies and incorporates sales promotion and PR into its day to day activities. This industry generates a huge turnover of over £10.1 billion GVA (Gross Value Added). This makes it one of the biggest earners in the media industry in UK specifically. It has a very big workforce since in the UK it employs more than 190,000 people, which translates to 36% of the media field personnel. It deals with consumer sales promotion, and its strategies are aimed at maximizing immediate and long term sales. The publishing industry is very competitive. On the side of PR, due to its reliance on image, the publishing sector puts a lot of emphasis on representation so as to maintain its relationship with the community and its customers as a whole.
The report decided to specifically narrow down to two particular magazines – Marie Claire and Woman and Home, as they are among the leading women tabloid magazines and also due to the fact that they produce monthly copies. This is also because they heavily rely on strategic sales promotion and PR techniques consequently providing an effective platform for evaluation.
According to Mintel, the UK media industry is growing and projects its sales to be in billions, due to the fact that it is now stable after experiencing a challenging year in 2008. Factors that led to its stability are attributed to sales promotion. This factor is applicable worldwide. This information forms a basis for an investigation on the two women’s magazines.
It will present findings from media information about the publishing industry especially those pertaining to the two chosen magazines. It will also go through a number of the magazine issues so as to specifically pick out sales promotion articles and strategies as well as any information related to PR that is useful to the company. It will analyze them based on the regularity of the chosen strategy, the target audience which covers the customers, the potential customers and the community and also PR and its impact.
This is a worldwide women’s magazine sold in countries such as Australia, UK and the United States. It covers topics ranging from fashion, hair and beauty, love as well as sex. It is translated in different languages depending on the language of its target audience. It is published by Groupe Marie Claire which is based in Australia.
It is a worldwide monthly publication magazine. It targets women over the age of 35, and is one of the fastest growing magazines. It focuses on women’s lifestyles especially pertaining to their work and how they live. It also covers hair and beauty, fashion, recipes.
Copies of these magazines have been bought and researched on. Digital information from the company’s internet sites have also been accessed as most magazines have adapted the digital platform.
The main aim of this research is to find out how the magazines have adapted sales promotion and PR in their strategy of increasing sales. This will be achieved through analyzing the articles and deducing the reasons why a particular selected sales strategy was used more than the other and what made it more effective.
The frequency, occurrence and constant use of one sale and PR strategy over the other was also analyzed and researched upon. The research also covered the different strategies used as per the different occasions such as Valentines etc.
Both companies basically used the same tactics for sales promotion and some were dwelt on more than others due to their pros and cons and eventual results as far as participation, reach and boosting of sales was concerned. Most strategies were aimed at pulling new readers, by enticing them to have an experience of reading the product. The various strategies used were aimed at targeting the different target groups.
They tried to draw new or potential readers by offering cuts in terms of discounts and favorable terms so as to encourage them to get copies. This was evident in both scenarios as both magazines had very appealing offers targeted for new subscribers.
The magazines had special offers, coupons and free samples inside. These goods were highlighted at the cover page so as to make a person want to get the issue. These were things like sample fragrances, coupons to selected stores and even price cuts for various goods with a copy of a selected section of the issue and also inserts containing interesting information. This is effective as it encourages other non-buyers to buy it.
They also use cause related strategies to encourage the community to buy it, with an aim of giving to charity but at the same time boosting their sales and even in some cases ending up in getting lifetime customers due to the first positive results of reading the article. They also use competitions to make potential clients to want to participate in them. Those who buy the copies which eventually lead to increased sales, offer the promise of potential future readers.
They both have special conditions that are meant to favor their frequent readers. These sales promotion strategies are meant to appreciate their clients while at the same time giving them a sense of loyalty and also making them to want to keep on buying the product (Gregory 2000, p. 142).
These include special competitions specifically for their frequent buyers or subscribers, in which, only the frequent buyers are eligible to enter. This is a strong sales strategy as it creates a sense of loyalty from the readers. Special rates to their subscribed customers also encourage the customers as the benefits they derive from membership is more than that of a non-member. This can also be achieved in the form of their regular newsletter to customers informing them of things like new trends, what to expect and special discounts way in advance. They also issue copies as soon as they arrive, to the customers making them the first ones to get a copy.
They use coupons, free samples, gifts and other products on the cover so as to make their regular clients buy the product. Charity causes are also used to encourage their customers to get copies through raising awareness and encouraging them to get copies and also out of the need to help those in need. They also give special prices to their readers so as to motivate and maintain them.
Bar graph showing the percentage increase in the rate of purchasing the magazine.
They both use public relations to portray and maintain a good public image both to their readers and community. These companies both take part in charity events. They host and support various charities from all over the world and take part in the publicity of charity events worldwide by covering the events through articles thereby, aiding in getting the word out. They give donations which go towards supporting various charity organizations and the needy.
PR is used in both cases to portray the company’s image positively. This applies to situations like sponsoring of community events. This act of giving back to the community is part of the company’s social responsibility, hence, maintaining its image (Smith 2003, p. 275). When an unpleasant situation occurs, the PR department is responsible for handling the issue and cleaning or repairing its image, as seen in the Marie Claire’s situation.
They both have a public relations department which is fully staffed with professional employees who are endowed with the task of making sure that the link between the company and community is good.
Types of promotions
A variety of promotions were used depending on the period and intention of the company. The strategies were broad and diverse and were chosen, basing on how effective they would be with the sole intention of increasing sales.
Special sales promotion
This year, most promotions were strategically geared towards Valentine’s Day. They were set in such a way that they would promote the valentine mood, hence, an increase of sales. In Marie Claire, there was the Valentine’s Day sensation contest which was a writing competition whose winner was to be awarded a voucher for a couples massage at a lucrative spa. Its value was estimated at $500. Women and Home also had special offers during the same period. These methods were effective because they took advantage of the periods and encouraged the readers to participate, consequently, increasing sales.
Both magazines put forward special offers as a way of a sales promotion strategy aimed at boosting sales by enticing the readers to purchase their products. This technique is effective as it makes the potential clients to take part in the process of purchasing due to the advantage of the deal accordingly, maximizing the company’s profits. It makes an individual purchase an item he/she had not intended to, hence, boosting sales. This included free gifts.
In Marie Claire magazine, there is an offer of an 88% cut in costs for subscriptions for up to two whole years, in which you get the issues for two years for just $10 which is the same as getting 21 issues free of charge
In Women and Home, this is achieved through targeting new subscribers and is done through giving out discounts, double competition entries each time the new subscriber participates in any competition, free prior delivery of issues and avoidance of price increases among other benefits. In the March issue of Women and Home there is a 20% discount on fashion and beauty products, hence, pulling the consumers and encouraging them to buy the product.
Cause related promotions
This kind of promotion is used in instances of a just cause aimed at going towards charity. The aim is to increase sales while at the same time giving back to the community. This is evident through Marie Claries’ shop for charity where, a certain amount of money from all the products is set aside for charity when purchases are made. In some cases, all the money goes to charity like in the case of the jewelry in their store in which 100% of the purchase price goes to help a charity in Malawi. It also has other items which goes to those in need like survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence victims etc.
Some of the sales promotion competitions in Marie Claire include:
Marie Claire’s 2000th issue giveaway, which was for readers to send an SMS of the number of the gift they wanted to win.
In Women and Home there was the short essay writing competition, where the readers took part in an essay competition, and stood a chance to win the grand prize and get exposure.
These competitions are meant to draw the customers to the magazine, consequently increasing sales. A common angle of criticism of this strategy is that though it is an effective way of sales promotion, it does not cater for all the readers due to the fact that not all of them can meet the conditions of the competition. The Women and Homes’ short story essay where the readers are supposed to write a short story before winning and the Marie Claire’s Valentine’s Day sensation contest favor the customers who can write well over the others, hence, it is only effective to a portion of the customers.
PR is also a very effective way of increasing sales through maintaining a link in the form of a positive mutual relationship between the organization and the public. Good PR means increased sales as the public will want to associate with the products of the company while bad PR implies the opposite.
PR can be maintained or enhanced through charity. Charity basically entails helping the community (Seitel 1992, p. 591). Through this act, the company fulfills its social corporate responsibility while at the same time the company’s image is portrayed positively, which may go a long way in creating a favorable image in the prospective clients mind. PR can either be used to make the company’s image or in some instances to repair the companies bad image in case of a mistake which can damage the company’s image.
These two companies have played a big role as far as charitable events are concerned. In the case of Maria Claire, there was the 2003 charity initiative where it gave out 30 pence of every issue sold in June to be shared between four charity organizations. All that the community members had to do to support this initiative was to purchase a copy. This prompted increased sales with even other big companies offering their support.
It has also set up a shop for the charity section where selected goods in the shop are sold and a certain specified percentage goes out to aid various causes such as the needy from all over the globe such as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence etc.
It has also organized various charity donations through social media sites such as Facebook, where people were encouraged to donate through their Facebook page. They have also organized a fashion for charity campaign where various clothing accessories were bought to aid children with HIV/AIDS.
It also publishes articles to warn the community as a whole concerning scams and poorly run charities with an aim of protecting the public. This is done so as to encourage the people who are ready to give to charity but are not sure or are insecure or in doubt of whether their money will go to the right place. It also publishes articles to highlight or inform on good and recommended charity organizations. This was the case in the breast cancer charity scam article which focused on organizations that are not transparent when it came to their finances and credibility.
The Women and Home magazine also publishes articles aimed at supporting charity organizations for example the fashion for charity event that was organized by Naomi Campbell, which was aimed at helping the people of Haiti.
Marie Claire magazine also used PR to maintain a situation that would have damaged the image of the company. This was when the readers responded negatively to a comment from one of its employees against plus-sized people. The company published articles aimed at correcting the issue and also to maintain the company’s image so as not to lose its customers.
The publishing industry uses a mix of sales promotion strategies and public relation to attract and maintain their customers. The use of both push and pull strategies are evident in their strategies so as to reach out to their customers as well as to the potential customers. The adoption of this technique depends on the need and they have been used on the grounds of which ones are more effective.
Key factors that stand out are
The main strategies that are regular each and every month are the use of competitions and offers. These magazines constantly have competitions and offers in all their print copies and regularly in their digital sources. These two strategies play a very important factor in pulling numbers thereby, increasing sales.
Special events and occasions are utilized effectively by these companies with an aim of boosting sales. February sales were very high due to the sales promotion techniques used which were able to influence sales. Competitions, prizes, special price reductions as well as gifts played a major role in influencing sales.
Public relations is a vital component to any successful business since, if it is well utilized, it can lead to increased profits for a business (Smith 2004, p. 287). Its main task is to make sure that the company’s main image is maintained.
Price promotions are the most important and prevalent sales strategy as they directly register in the company profits. Despite the fact that price promotions are so popular, they cannot be used all the time as there are factors like public relations that heavily influence it and its effect are felt more with its mix amid other strategies. Though price promotions are important components in sales promotion, they cannot stand on their own.
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Seitel, F. P 1992, The practice of public relations, Macmillan Pub. Co., New York.
Smith, R. D 2003, Becoming a public relations writer instructor’s manual: a writing process workbook for the profession, Routledge, London.
Smith, R. D 2004, Strategic planning for public relations, Routledge, London.
Tench, R., & Yeomans, L 2009, Exploring public relations, Pearson Education, New Jersey.
Wilcox, D 2003, Public relations: strategies and tactics, Allyn & Bacon, Boston.