The advertising and promotion plan - Sales Management

The preparation of an annual advertising and promotion programme is an essential process in planned market development. As with most marketing programmes, subsequent developments often cause changes from the outline; such change need not signify a bad plan, just the need to adapt flexibly to any short-term or unforeseen circumstances.

The final version of the annual promotion programme should include relevant comment on such topics as:

  • the timing of promotions for each product,taking account of seasonal factors such as gift-giving periods and vacations
  • the objectives of each promotion or promotional activity, and the ability to control and measure performance against objectives
  • special promotional media support or general media support (bear in mind that,if there is a clear seasonal sales trend, pound spent in the peak sales period generally creates a greater impact on sales than a pound spent in the low period)
  • promotional aids (such as sales literature and point of sales materials) and other materials needed to support the promotional activity, including preparation lead times
  • special packaging requirements and production lead times
  • manufacturing, shipping and other distribution lead times for special promotional goods.


Promotion planning

Each separate promotion programmer should have a fully detailed written plan, in addition to the outline annual plan referred to above,incorporating such information as:

  • budgeted expenditure in total and by item of expense
  • objectives of the promotion
  • lead times for preparation of each aspect of copy and artwork connected with design of packaging, display material and media advertisements
  • production quantities of each item of advertising and display material,packaging and product
  • all rules applicable to any competition,e.g. competitions direct to consumers,retailers and distributor salespersons
  • comment on the legality of a promotion in the market and any regulatory approvals needed to run the promotion (e.g. various forms of promotion are restricted in some markets, such as lotteries that may require an approval)
  • criteria to measure promotion success and a programme to evaluate success.

The planning stage must ensure adequate lead times for all preparation and production of each special aspect of the promotion,including artwork, schedule advertising,packaging and production of merchandise,even though there may be an element of flexibility in the final promotion dates.

If you are working with an advertising agency they should be kept fully apprised of all aspects of planning, and be clearly briefed on their respective responsibilities, although the marketer’s job will include monitoring the performance of the sales team and any participating distributors for respective contributions within the plan time span.

Figure illustrates some key stages in promotional planning that you might find convenient to elaborate on and adapt to your own planning process. Preparation of your annual marketing plan in a simple schematic may assist control of the various stages in implementing the marketing. In the plan in Table promotions for a toiletry range sold into the United Kingdom market give the base for the matrix.

There are two main promotions within the budget for the year. First, there is summer ‘travel kit’ promotion, which could be a four-item assortment with a free toiletries bag for the consumer. This is supported by magazine advertising in ‘lifestyle’image journals. To get the product in displayed distribution, the display period is preceded by a ‘dealer loader’ promotion (say,one box free with twelve) to fill the pipeline with stock, and a salesperson’s bonus competition.

Secondly, there is a Christmas promotions the main event of the year, based on the marketing experience of the marketer that toiletries are popular gift items. This is supported by television advertising, magazine advertising, feature displays, dealer ’loaders’,salespeople’s incentives, and competitions for best displays.

The summer promotion would concentrate on summer skin-care items, such as suntan oils and lotions, an dafter-sun treatments. The winter programmed concentrate on colognes, perfumes,after-shaves and similar items, and complementary‘luxury’ products.

The basic planning principle applies as much to industrial products as to consumer products, but several markets might be linked together for the purpose of promotion planning where they share common activity,such as regional exhibitions.

Table illustrates an outline promotion programmer for navigation equipment, where the size of the markets does not warrant great detail at the level of each market, and the main forms of promotion are through exhibitions and event sponsorships.

In this example most activity is concentrated in the spring and summer and particular attention is given by the company,in view of the technical nature of the products,to distributor and agent motivation and training through conferences and factory visits(linked for economy with major exhibitions). These examples, of course, are not all encompassing.

Every product has promotional techniques to which it best responds,and every company has product attribute sand benefits that its own experts and marketing team best know how to exploit. Liaison between the sales manager and the marketing team will promote a cross-flow of idea sand experience to the benefit of the marketing.

Setting promotion objectives

As with all marketing activity, any forms of promotional activity should be carefully thought through and have clearly defined and measurable objectives. These must be communicated to, and agreed with, all the parties involved in planning, implementing and managing the promotion, with particular attention to the sales team and distributors.

Most marketing activity is geared to objectives within the general categories of:

  • creating or developing brand awareness and building consumer loyalty
  • increasing market penetration and share(including by stealing sales from competitors)
  • increasing product distribution
  • increasing product trial by potential users,or usage by current users
  • generating additional display activity (for consumer goods)
  • limiting sales opportunities open to competitors by filling the distribution channels with stock and encouraging users or consumers to ’stock up’ in anticipation of future needs.



Within these overlapping categories the sales manager should be able to set specific objectives such as:

  • number of additional units targeted to be sold by customer and trade channel, or number of new users expected to result from the promotion
  • number of new stockist's to be added to the distribution network
  • increase in market share
  • measurable increase in brand awareness(in response to market research activity)
  • measurable improvement in product displays (for consumer products) within retail stockist's, and so on.

Table illustrates a draft of an elementary promotion outline with quantified objectives,and this can be refined and expanded as experience permits and circumstances require. The objectives and the methods to motivate results are obviously interrelated, and from this outline plan the full promotion can be planned in detail to ensure timely production of all display material and sales aids, and the booking of media spots. Remember:


  • if the promotion has worthwhile objectives,it is worth thorough planning
  • if it is worth the budgeted expenditure, it is worth the management time and effort training the direct sales team and any cooperating distributor sales personnel to ensure effective implementation
  • if achievement of the objectives is important to sales development, the results are worth monitoring and quantifying.

Check the implementation of each sales promotion and provide training as necessary. For consumer goods the sales manager should visit the market during the promotion period to conduct extensive random checks on display and distribution and to assess the effective use of point of sale and quality of feature displays.


A promotional brief format

It is customary in the more sophisticated marketing organizations, particularly those marketing fast moving consumer goods, for a promotional brief to be prepared, normally the responsibility of a product manager, but some sales managers may be involved in this process. It should communicate specific objectives and criteria for judgment concerned with the development of consume rand trade promotions as a tactical tool. Atypical promotion brief framework is illustrated in Figure.

Evaluating and monitoring promotions

Clearly, as the sales manager in charge of market you want to be able to see a rise in sales during marketing activity (whether advertising or promotional in nature), and a sustained level of increased sales in the post promotion period. Where marketing budgets are limited, value for money is essential, and measurement of results from activities will aid future planning of supporting marketing.

Your sales performance figures and graphs may give an indication of improved performance. It is worth penciling on such charts when and what activity prompted a boost in sales, as a year or two later none of the marketers involved may remember what happened or why, and past lessons are lost.

Other indicators of promotional success may come from: the number of people returning enquiry cards in response to advertisements in trade journals; the numbers of visitors at an exhibition stand requesting a sample or demonstration; the percentage increase in sales during a promotional period compared with some base period; post-promotion performance exceeding the forecast trend line, etc.

Evaluate the outcome of the promotion against the specific quantified objectives agreed and that can be measured from available data, e.g.:

  • sales volume through specific (key)accounts over a set time span compared with a pre-promotion comparable time span (monitor both the trade purchases and stock levels to ensure pipe-line stocks are not accumulating without an increase in throughput)
  • increase in product user base
  • increase in display facings in monitored outlets (retail goods)
  • increase in product distribution over the promotion period, i.e. trade stockist's
  • increase in product throughput of subcontractors the promotion period
  • new trade channel accounts being opened(i.e. in response to sales incentives)
  • response to consumer audits indicating increased product trial.

It is important to plan all aspects of a sales promotion and to monitor actual costs and incremental sales against budgets. Table illustrates a simple control form that will help establish and control promotion budgets and the results of promotions, and promotion achievements can be compared with promotion objectives in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

Your professionalism in developing and presenting promotional plans, and your ability successfully to implement and manage a programme for positive results, will infectiously motivate your sales team and distributors to enthusiastic cooperation in thefuture.

Key account promotional activity

At the key account level in any market sector very specific (and more easily measurable) promotional objectives can be set and agreed with the account. Key account activity is likely to have spin-off effects on some minor accounts aware of competition and promotion, but if promotions are only offered to key accounts there is the risk of minor account alienation.

A key account objective planning form can be used as a control document, and one format is illustrated.

This example might be more relevant to products resold through other distribution channels, such as retail outlets or trade distributors, but a modified version can be designed by the sales manager to suit his or her own products and markets. This example highlights the current status against key result factors such as product listings,distribution, display, sales volume, and then notes the planned promotional activity focus (e.g. display or price-oriented promotion)and the expected incremental sales the promotion should produce.

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