Sales promotion agencies and advertising agencies are structurally similar, and the responsibilities of the positions are also similar. The difference lies in the techniques used and the final product. It takes more "marketing discretion" to design and execute a trade coupon promotion than a full-page, four-color, nationally distributed magazine advertisement or a sixty-second TV spot. This means that a promotion is frequently more effective and efficient, but less glamorous. So think back to those other advertising job descriptions, add the "marketing discretion" factor, and apply them to sales promotion.
For the consumer goods manufacturer, the sales promotion department is a staff group whose purpose is to develop appropriate promotions that will improve the business of the brand groups. They perform the same creative and execution functions as the promotion agency.
The promotion agency carries out promotions for a client on a contract basis, whereas, the promotion department is expected to be continually on the alert for marketing opportunities. They 'ill often recognize an opportunity and approach the brand group with n idea, and then work with the necessary support groups to develop, implement, and measure the success or failure of the promotional event. Some of the responsibilities can be applied to both agencies and departments: analyzing target market information, analyzing past promo-on data, keeping within budget constraints, assuring the accurate timing of the event (Does Joe's grocery have the display that was advertised n TV last week? Does he have the product to put in the display?), racking the progress of the event, and, of course, the "black box" creation of the event itself.
Q How did you get into sales promotion?
A - I'm the vice-president and the executive director, and I've been strictly in sales promotion for about ten years. Previously, I was in an advertising agency and did promotion there too.
I started in consumer products, and I was in a division that sold soap and detergent. My manager moved to a new company and contacted me and asked me to move too. I became a key account person for VA years. They then offered me a chance to come up into the office. In the past, the people in the sales promotion team have usually been hired from the outside, from other companies with some sales promotion experience, but what they lacked was experience with the products that we sell. So they said, "Let's train someone from the field who knows all the problems our salespeople encounter."
Q - How is the organization set up?
A - I have a premium development group that reports to me They deal with suppliers, lawyers, technical people, and purchasing. Ii essence, they coordinate the development and fielding of the different premium promotion items for the brands.
There's a second group called brand counseling, which generally serves as a marketing consultant and more specifically as a promotional consultant for the brands on an "as-needed" basis. We make ourselves available as experts in the field to answer questions, solve problems, and take advantage of opportunities. We sometimes go to the brands where we see an opportunity. The brand counseling group also coordinates multi division promotions. All the brands have different schedules to fit together, different sales forces, and different needs-we have a bigger overview. We also do training and workshops. We try to pick up new promotion ideas and find ways to get them tested, even with the limited testing money we have.
The third part of my group is called information services, which is essentially a library. It's a collection of what we know about promotion in particular from both internal analyses and research and external sources such as trade magazines. We not only try to collect and organize so the brands can use it, but we also try and highlight key ideas and disseminate those things to the brands.
There's a whole section basically dealing with couponing and sampling. The volume of couponing is so heavy and the cost of sampling of high that it's a pretty big group, about half our manpower.
We are the full staff support system for our line marketing >rand groups. In our overall general advertising staff division, we have promotion and marketing services, a media group, an advertising personal group, a commercial production group, an art department. Just name in staff support piece for a brand group, and you'll probably find it in our general advertising group.
There are a couple of groups involved in the planning and coordination of our couponing and sampling efforts, mostly in the execution stage. There is another group that works on fulfillment of our mail-in offers. Another group does nothing but estimate response to offers, coupons, refunds, premiums, and that kind of thing. Then there's mother group that does nothing but interact with our international companies and give them promotional information.
Q - Which groups within the organization do you deal with most closely?
A - The best way to describe that is to say that we work for the operating divisions, and every operating division has an advertising half (the brand groups) and a sales half, and so we interact with both. We do occasionally work with other parts of the organization, but it's not particularly a key point.
We deal with all the people in the brand groups-the brand manager, assistant brand manager, and brand assistant. In my group we have spent a lot of time with the newer people, brand assistants in particular, because they spend a lot of time working on promotion. We deal with the people in analysis and research to a fair extent. The person who is in charge of analysis and research is right next door to me.