Our first post (linked above) about the message explains the why of the marketing campaign. Why is the campaign needed? The answer should always be one of three:

– 1) It's driving sales for a specific product

– 2) It's building hype

– 3) It's building the brand

This post is about how that's done.


Driving sales is easy when and brand is known and the hype (or demand) is well established. It's enough to tell the audience that the product is now available. It's direct.

Asking people to buy something 'cold' on the other hand is very difficult. That's where the promotion comes in.


The promotion has two jobs, which is why it's split in two. It has to explain what is being offered (building brand), and it has to make who it's for want it (creating hype).

What It Means

Promotion is making sure people know about your product. Sales means reaching out to people and asking them to buy your product. These are not the same thing.

One without the other doesn't work well though. If people don't know you (no promotion), sales methods will be considered spam. If people don't know what you're offering (no sales), they can't buy it.

This is why the strategy has to match the standing of the brand and the product offered. Here we'll outline the five available methods to do marketing (the umbrella term for everything).

The Five Methods

There are five methods we can use to build brand, hype, or drive sales. It depends on how strong the brand promoting the product is what method works best.

The five methods are:

Publicity – Advertisements – Direct Marketing
Personal Selling – Sales Promotion

For some, one method could stand on its own, but often companies use a mix of methods.

A charity might air a commercial that the latest crisis is particularly bad (advertisement) and there's a fundraiser starting next month (sales promotion). There might be an interview with someone who's benefitted from the work of the charity (publicity). Then they could place a street team on busy pedestrian streets (personal selling) to get people to sign up then and there, along with an email blast to their subscriber list asking for donations (direct marketing).

What Works for What

As a rule of thumb, for promotion (building brand, creating interest) you want publicity and advertisements. For sales you want direct marketing and personal selling.

Sales Promotion is between the two, what sets it apart is that it has a time frame.


Promotion raises awareness of the brand, captures attention, and is something worth talking about. It often speaks to our emotional side, and it tends to convey feeling and emotion.


If the aim is only to build the brand or raise awareness, that's when we should just go as loud as possible. The more talk the better.

Miley Cyrus' performance was timed so her album came out two weeks later. For a while she had attention and an audience that had no outlet to express their interest. This increased demand so when the album Bangerz came out two weeks later, it debuted at #1. We don't like to think in what ifs, but if that performance hadn't been so attention grabbing, I'm not sure the album would have sold as well.


Not everyone has access to the stage at the VMAs, but advertisements can deliver great number of eyeballs and brand recognition. They can be on TV or in print, billboards or online.

I'm sure you know that this yellow photo is advertising Apple's iPod, even though it doesn't say anywhere on the image. That's brand recognition.


So while promotion is about delivering a message and conveying emotion, sales get straight to the point. It is this product, at this price, at this time. Here's where you buy it.

If the promotion side is done well, people should already be eager to buy it so there's nothing to think about when it comes to the sales part. It becomes a simple value proposition: are you willing to give us this much money for this specific item? But, you have to ask them.

Sales work best when they're one on one, so people know you're talking to them. This is why email marketing is effective.

Direct Marketing

When a person gets a clear value proposition like that, we call it a call to action, or CTA. In this email it's the gigantic big green button that says 'Subscribe'. It could not be more clear what this email wants me to do. It wants me to subscribe to Blinkist.

It doesn't explain what Blinkist is, because they know that I already know what that is. How would they be able to email me if I wouldn't?

Personal Selling

Personal selling is when there is a person speaking one on one with a potential buyer. It's not an easy undertaking to train up a sales force, but it is effective to drive sales.

The most obvious example of this is when charities place their representatives on busy streets and ask those who pass by if they can donate a small sum to their cause.

Sales Promotion

To make it confusing for everyone, there is something called Sales Promotion. This describes what comes to mind when we think of promotion. Whereas publicity and advertisements are often used for general brand building, sales promotion is something that has a specific time.

Advertisements for Brand Building

Coke and McDonalds spend $1 billion a year on advertisements. This is not because you necessarily have to go today to buy your Chicken Legend, but so that the next time you're hungry and lazy, McDonalds is top of mind.

Advertisements for Hype

On the other hand if there is a time frame on the promotion, something like an album launch, ticket onsale in a particular region, or any type of specific promotion – that's when we call it Sales Promotion. The aim is to build a hype for a specific product, with the aim to encourage sales within a specified window of time.

Where do I get started?

When you have a known brand and known product

Some entities have very strong brands, and can just announce things. There is only a handful who can pull this off, and even those who do – only can for a product everyone knows.

Like Apple. The statement "new iPhone" from Apple will sell a lot of iPhones. It works because we trust Apple, and we know what an iPhone is. This hasn't always been the case. When Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, it took him an hour to explain to everyone what it was.

This approach will not work for anyone that with a brand name worth less than $1 billion. So, quickly moving on.

When you have a known product but unknown brand

If the product doesn't need explaining, all efforts can be focused on building hype. Hype determines demand, and demand drives sales.

This is the Hollywood way. A movie is something everyone understands, but will still need to be convinced to see this movie. That's why for every blockbuster, city buses get plastered with ads, and the stars go on late night talk shows.

It's to make sure anyone who likes movies, or this particular genre of movies, or this actress will know to go see this movie at this time. They have to know about it and want to go see it.

Recommended strategy: go as loud as your budget allows.
Start with Publicity and Advertisements, follow up with Direct Marketing.

When you have an unknown brand and an unknown product

For anyone that's not in the promo industry, the term 'brand' can sound corporate and alienating. The best way to think about it, is just as 'the public identity' of yourself.

So for an unknown brand, that is an unrecognised identity, the task gets tricky. To drive sales, the customers have to go through this process:

– Know who you are
– Know what you're offering
– Want what you're offering
Then buy your product

It's not impossible. This is the premise of platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This is why those platforms have a lot of space available for the projects to explain who they are, what the product does, when it will be out, and what people will get for their money. It also has 'social proof' to show that other people also believe in this product.

Recommended strategy: The content should be laid out clearly, but allow for depth for those who want it*.

If you don't have any following, make sure to establish your brand on relevant platforms. Direct Marketing is not likely to work until people know what you're offering, so focus on providing value wherever you can – then try to get publicity and advertise.

*This means answering who are you, what are you doing, why are you doing what you're doing, who is it for, when is it available, where is it available, how much does it cost, what's in it for me.

Online vs Offline

Notice how the strategies are not centered around any particular platform. The truth is that the platforms don't really matter. Miley Cyrus' performance was talked about on Twitter, next to the watercooler, and on the news.

What mattered was the publicity. Her twerking could have been on a live stream on YouTube, as opposed to on TV, and still get a lot of attention.

When people talk about how social media is the bee's knees in marketing now, what they mean is for building up hype and brand. Social media is extremely useful for entertainment and attracting attention.
However it is what you do with that attention that makes or breaks your sales. You can't expect any sales, if you don't run an effective sales campaign.