What is Promotional Marketing? [+ Examples & Ways to Use It]

In this post, we’re going to talk about promotional marketing. What’s fascinating about promotional marketing is that, if performed well, […]

Mark Jackson

President at SwagDrop

In this post, we’re going to talk about promotional marketing.

What’s fascinating about promotional marketing is that, if performed well, it can help any kind of company — from multinational companies to smaller, local companies — grow.

Because of its significance in today’s marketplace, we’re going to cover the following topics:

  • What is promotional marketing?
  • Discuss a number of ways you can use promotional marketing and what you’ll achieve by doing so
  • What are the essential steps in terms of creating a promotional marketing campaign?
  • Some examples of companies that are successful in promoting their brand and products.

We’ve got lots to cover, so let’s get right into it.

Table of Contents

What is Promotional Marketing?

Ways to Use Promotional Marketing for Your Business

How to Start a Promotional Campaign

Examples from Successful Companies

What is Promotional Marketing?

You’re doing your best in terms of thinking about brand new business ideas, creating new products, and making sure that your old ones remain relevant to what the market wants and needs.

The next step is promoting your brand.

Promotional marketing is the process of communicating your new ideas and products to your audience.

It’s also designed so that you build brand awareness and expand your target audience, as well as attract potential customers.

In other words, the entire set of activities that aim to raise awareness, increase sales, and support customer fidelity is promotional marketing.

One could say that promotional marketing is a sort of brand activation; a process of using special offers as well as promotional products and materials to inform and persuade customers to buy your products or services.

As you can see below, promotion is one of the 4Ps in the marketing mix.

Lumen The Marketing Mix

Image Source: Lumen Learning

It’s clear that promotion is part of the overall marketing plan that a company creates and works with.

When it comes to creating a promotional strategy, companies should keep in mind that the process is a multifaceted one, requiring looking after a wide range of marketing communication efforts.

Put another way, your promotion strategy includes the sum of your marketing efforts and communication that goes out from the company towards its audience and the other way around, meaning any kind of message that the client might be sending out to their social environment.

The image below shows exactly what promotion is all about and refers to some of the key points of promotion, too.

Lumen Promotion

Image Source: Lumen Learning

We therefore understand promotion as a sort of productive dialogue between two sides: the company and the client.

The attributes of this dialogue form the basis of a company’s promotional marketing strategies.

Let’s dive deeper into the topic and discuss some of the most valuable ways to use promotional marketing for your business and how they can help your business.

Ways to Use Promotional Marketing for Your Business

Here’s some of the ways you can use promotional marketing for your business and what you’ll earn from each and every one of them.

Method #1: Use it to increase your brand awareness

First things first, promotion can help you increase brand awareness.

Increasing brand awareness is both a way of using promotional marketing as much as it is a result of using promotional marketing for your company.

Traditionally, promotional marketing has been used to create and increase brand awareness.

Increasing awareness is an essential step for a small business that wants to grow, and for bigger companies that wish to keep expanding.

The graph that follows will give us some interesting context around what is brand awareness and where it could take a company.

Business Bonfire Brand Awareness

Image Source: Business Bonfire

Brand awareness comes as a result of promotional moves that include adverts, products, a tagline, and a logo.

It all then leads to brand recall, recognition, and — most importantly — a brand being the top-of-mind brand.

In other words, promotional marketing leads to brand awareness because it means the exposure of a brand and its products to the public.

It’s also a process that includes bilateral communication between a company and its clients.

Brand awareness can be performed in a variety of ways, depending on the products and services that a company has to offer.

Read the following statement on brand awareness:

G2 Brand Awareness

Image Source: G2

Put another way, presence is essential when it comes to company awareness.

Whether it’s a sales promotion, creating a pop-up store with your products, personal selling at trade shows, organizing influencer giveaways, or giving free samples and promotional tote bags, it’s all about making your company recognizable.

To use promotional marketing in order to increase brand awareness is a must do for all companies that want to reach their goal of growth and increased sales.

Simply put, awareness comes with promotion and brings bigger audiences and more sales.

Keep reading to find the second way that promotional marketing can be used by companies and what the results should be.

Method #2: Use it to establish tight relationships with your customers and increase brand loyalty

The second way promotional marketing can help your business is to establish tight relationships with customers and increase brand loyalty.

Promotional marketing is used to inform your audience about any kind movements in your business.

These might  have to do with improvements, changes in what you already offer, creation of new products, and the establishment of new services.

More than anything else, promotion is about communication between companies and clients.

It comes as no surprise that successful promotional tactics help companies to create relationships with their clients and foster customer loyalty and brand loyalty.

Here’s a definition on brand loyalty by Investopedia:

What Is Brand Loyalty Definition

Image Source: Investopedia

Notice that brand loyalty is expressed as a tight relationship between a company and its customers.

Additionally, it’s highly important for companies to achieve loyalty as their growth depends on it.

These pie charts by Yotpo will give us some insight on this:

Marketing Land Brand Loyalty Graph

Image Source: Yotpo

As you can see, brand loyalty can lead to a large proportion of people – more specifically 60% — being willing to recommend a company to their friends and family.

Also, they’re likely to spend more, even if there are cheaper available options in the market.

Here’s some data on the real value of returning customers:

Yotpo Value of Returning Shoppers

Image Source: Yotpo

According to the chart above, returning customers can be highly beneficial for a business because they end up spending more than one-time shoppers.

What I’d like you to take away from this is that, by promoting a product or a service, you perform a sort of public relations task by informing your audience, thus creating a space where brand loyalty can be created and established.

After having created and established a brand-customer relationship, promotional efforts can be used to make the relationship stronger and continuous.


In terms of the company, by offering competitive products and services as well showing that it acts on its audience’s best interests.

More on promotional marketing and a business’ competitors right below.

Method #3: Use it to differentiate your business from competitors

The third way promotional marketing helps businesses is by helping them differentiate themselves from their competitors.

There’s a wide range of promotional tactics that can be applied by companies.

These tactics are the ones that help a business show how different and unique it can be in relation to its competition.

What I mean by that is, the type of promotion and promotional products that a company chooses to use form its character and public face, thus showing what’s different and special about it and why it should be chosen by new customers.

By presenting key positioning points via promotional marketing channels, you could show your audience that what you provide is more valuable than what your competitors have to offer.

In short, how a company deals with promotional marketing, in terms of its social media marketing, content marketing, and email marketing, can help it highlight its uniqueness in relation to its competitors.

I believe that an example will make this a bit more clear.

Let’s look at how marketing software Drift makes sure its audience gets their uniqueness ,starting with their website homepage.

Drift Homepage

Image Source: Drift

Drift differentiates itself from competitors by choosing to promote a human-first approach, which is achieved by displaying a photograph of one of its team members on its website homepage.

Also, this showcases that the company tries to connect with their audience in a more personal way.

The company is using a number of channels and ways to achieve its marketing goals and grow.

Writing a book about a term that they evangelized and created a movement around is also a great way to show that you’re different and special in what you do.

The term is conversational marketing which, as you can see, is gradually getting increased interest.

Google Trends Conversational Marketing

Image Source: Google Trends

The book “Conversational Marketing” is a guide to the term, showcasing some of the world’s most successful companies and their use of chatbots as a way to generate leads.

Drift Conversational Marketing Book

Image Source: Drift

The company also hosts a podcast called “Seeking Wisdom”.

Drift Seeking Wisdom Podcast

Image Source: Drift

And the conference, Hypergrowth.

Hypergrowth Conference Drift

Image Source: Medium

All these different types of promotion of its business allow Drift to raise brand awareness, whilst making sure that its audience differentiates it from what’s out there.

Let’s head on to the next way promotional marketing can be used to help your business.

Method #4: Use it to adopt an omni-channel approach when it comes to your marketing strategy

Another way promotional marketing can help you with your business is that it can help you adopt an omni-channel approach when it comes to marketing strategy.

Let’s use the following definition by HubSpot for the term “omni-channel”, to make sure we’re all on the same page with it:

Hubspot Omni channel Approach

Image Source: Hubspot

To put it another way, an omni-channel approach refers to a cross-channel strategy that includes all types of channels that can be used by a company in order for their audience to engage with its products and services.

The customer gets the opportunity to engage with an organization or company through multiple channels at the same time, thus getting the feeling of a unified experience.

For example, a few weeks ago our company sent out a swag package to Farzad Rashidi, co-founder of Respona, just one of the tools we’re using for our outreach campaigns.

Farzad took a picture of it and posted it on Linkedin.

LinkedIn Farzad Post

This helped us raise awareness about PRG and helped more people learn about our products and services.

I’m showing you this because, in a similar way, you can use promotional marketing to support your sales and marketing efforts.

I’d like to focus on the fact that promotional marketing can help different divisions and teams inside a company, e.g, sales, marketing, or PR, be more efficient and drive performance using a more creative approach.

Another example would be the “Million Dollar Mug” story by Microsoft.

A simple mug,

Million Dollar Mug Microsoft

Image Source: Ebay

With a super clever marketing strategy behind it, as can be seen below:

The mug started as a sales campaign but soon became a huge success for Microsoft and got free publicity for the company.

Let’s move on to the next and final way promotional marketing can be used by your business.

Method #5: Use it to increase sales and grow your customer base

The last way promotional marketing can help your business is to increase your sales as well as grow your customer base.

As we established earlier, there’s a direct correlation between promotion and  increased brand awareness.

What I’m going to show you here is that this correlation can be financially beneficial for your company.

The graph below will make this a bit more clear:

Instapage Graph Brand Awareness Lead Generation Inverted pyramid

Image Source: Instapage

What this inverted pyramid teaches us is that brand awareness that’s achieved through exposure, influence, and engagement leads to action by the client and generates income for the company.

Exposure is basically a kind of promotion.

It is, as we already discussed, the process of communicating your business, products, and services to the public.

A second graph shows us much the same thing:

Perfect Boom Graph Awareness Purchase Inverted Pyramid

Image Source: Perfect Boom

Awareness is an essential component for companies to reach their ultimate goal, which is to generate sales.

Moving on to what the main steps are in terms of creating an effective promotional campaign.

How to Start a Promotional Campaign

In this section, we’re going to analyze the three steps every company needs to take when starting a promotional campaign.

Step #1: Define your target audience

The first step is to define your target audience.

When it comes to defining your target audience, meaning the audience that you intend to reach, there’s a list of information that you should consider collating.

In terms of defining your target audience, it’s important to decide and collect data on:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Habits

To mention a few.

This will give you a clear idea of what the qualities of your audience are, thus making it easier for you to approach them in the most appropriate and effective way.

Why is defining your target audience important?

By knowing your audience, you’re more likely to give your audience what they want.

In plain English, to create a useful promotional campaign for them that has more chance to be a successful one for your brand.

Moving on to the second step to starting a promotional campaign.

Step #2: Define your distribution strategy

The second step in starting a promotional campaign is to define your distribution strategy.

This means that, after having defined what your target audience is, you should try to think of ways to spread the news about your promotional campaign and reach out to that audience.

There are three types of distribution depending on how intensive and selective your distribution strategy might be.

The process of distributing your campaign includes taking decisions in relation to the media that you’re going to use in order to share the news on your promotional campaign with your audience.

You could consider sending out press releases, email communications, or creating a package of promotional products that can be very successful in informing your audience and giving them a creative first taste of what your promotional campaign is all about.

Also, you might find yourself fond of using direct marketing, such as social media marketing, social media and Google ads, etc., to reach your target audience.

Just remember to be creative and try to stand out from the crowd with the distribution strategy you’re going to use.

Below you will find the final step that’s extremely important for you to take when building your promotional campaign.

Step #3: Start building relationships with your audience

The third and final step in terms of a promotional campaign is to start building relationships with your audience.

This step is firmly linked to the first step of defining your target audience.


Simply because, after having already established and analyzed what your audience is, you can work towards creating a campaign that will help you establish a relationship with them.


By giving them what they need; by providing them with a useful promotional campaign you can create emotional links with them and foster loyalty.

Let’s look at a few examples of successful promotional campaigns.

Examples of Successful Companies

Here’s two interesting examples that showcase different modes of successful promotional marketing.

Example #1: The Boring Company

The first example comes from Elon Musk’s “Boring Company” and is one of the most interesting and fun promotional fundraising campaigns we’ve ever heard of.

The Boring Company Not a Flamethrower

Image Source: The Boring Company

Without any intention to promote and advertise the project using traditional advertising methods, the company started selling promotional hats, flamethrowers – yes, that’s right! Flamethrowers – and branded fire extinguishers.

That might sound like a crazy move, but Elon Musk managed to get a few million dollars from it.

Moral of the story:

Have fun with your promotional campaigns and don’t be afraid to elevate promotional products by adding some sort of irony or joke to them.

Your audience will love it.

Example #2: Reach G2

The second example I’d like to share with you comes from review software company, G2.

Every year, starting in 2019, the company hosts the Reach conference.

Reach Conference G2

Image Source: Reach G2

Reach is a conference with customized content.

What makes it a successful promotional campaign is that organizing such an event, whether it’s online — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — or in a physical space, brings awareness to the company and helps with brand building.

Additionally, it helps to establish credibility since it proves that the company isn’t just looking to impact its bottom line, but also to add value to the industry by bringing in industry experts and sharing their knowledge with a broader audience.

Moral of the story:

Try to add value to your audience’s lives without being overly promotional.

It’ll be much appreciated.

Wrapping  this up with some final thoughts.

Wrapping Up

I believe that you now know some more things about promotional marketing and the ways it can be beneficial to your company.

We’ve talked about the process of creating a promotional campaign and what some essential elements of it are.

Most certainly the two final examples gave you an idea of how creative and unique promotional campaigns might look like.

Want a campaign like this?

We’re always here to help you amplify your story, raise awareness for your brand, and create an emotional connection with your audience.

How can we help?

If you need a hand, have an unanswered question, please fill out our contact form and our friendly sales staff will get back to you ASAP!