The key reason for implementing any kind of sales promotion activity is identifying a specific marketing need that can be addressed most effectively by promotional activity.
This specific marketing need will fall broadly into either of the two following categories, both of which drive volume.
Getting consumers to use your product or service for the first time
Increasing the probability of a consumer who has used the product or service before buying it again.
They are different to other marketing requirements because they represent a specific call to action. In contrast, brand awareness is not a specific call to action. If brand awareness is an objective over say, trial, then your needs may be better served by using advertising.
Promotional activity operates most often in partnership with other marketing activity. Typically this will be advertising but may also include direct mail, public relations or sponsorship campaigns. Advertising acts mainly to build awareness and imagery of the product's key attributes – brand values.
Other elements of the marketing mix will also help to develop brand values and sales promotion is no exception to this.
However, sales promotion has some advantages over conventional advertising, which are particularly relevant to the smaller business.
Promotional activity can be targeted to a greater degree than other forms of advertising.
Promotions can be timed and results viewed over a more specific and much shorter timeframe than conventional advertising.
Perhaps most importantly, promotional campaigns can be quantified relatively easily and as results are more readily available, activity can be accurately evaluated.