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Promotional StructureBy: Avinash Narula
Quite a few of us have to design and develop promotional material for our companies. When one thinks about designing advertising and promotional material, I believe it is worthwhile to develop what I call the "promotional structure," something akin to the organizational structure. Thinking of the promotional structure will assist you in developing advertising and promotional material in a manner which effectively conveys the story of your company and products to the prospective customer, convincing him to buy your products and services. What’s more, such an approach will also avoid duplication and overlapping of information. You will not only save on costs but also cross-sell your products and services which will have a positive effect on your bottom line.
This may be best illustrated by citing an example. Let us use the example of Faridabad based business group Escorts. Let's suppose for the sake of simplicity that Escorts has two divisions or subsidiaries i.e, Agri Machinery Division and Telecom Division. What we would do here is that instead of talking about the different types of promotional material, we will try to explain the concept of "promotional structure" in terms of preparing the brochures for this particular business group. You can apply the concept in the same way to other types of advertising and promotional material.
Since the group is involved in more than one business, it is obvious that it needs a brochure which tells the customer about the Escorts group as a whole. As such, Escorts should prepare a brochure for the Escorts Group which can be termed as "Group Brochure." A Group Brochure is a form of a Corporate Brochure, a term which quite a few of you must have heard. Depending upon the nature of your business and the need for confidentiality, the Group Brochure will give a bird’s eye-view of the group. It may include information on its founders, top management, mission & vision, financial status, major business activities, significant achievements, quality statement and more. The information in this type of brochure will be at the macro level. This type of brochure will be used very selectively by the senior managers of the company.
Since it is very important to cross-sell, the Group Brochure will cross-sell both the tractor and the telecom divisions of Escorts in a very subtle manner. The reader will find information about both the divisions or subsidiaries of the Escorts group and can contact them if he needs to buy their products and services.
The next level of brochures will be made by each of the two divisions or subsidiaries. At this level, the brochures will be known as Corporate Brochures. For instance, the tractor division or subsidiary will have a brochure giving a bird's eye-view of the division. It will include similar type of information as in the Group Brochure but the information will be about the particular subsidiary or division for which the brochure is being developed. Here again the information will be at the macro level.
How is this Corporate Brochure going to help? When a prospective client knocks at the door of the company showing interest in buying a tractor, a Corporate Brochure can be handed out to him. This will not only educate him about the tractor division and its lineage but also give him enough information to decide which product range/brand is more suitable for him. Let us assume that the prospective buyer feels that the Farmtrac range of tractors (Escorts has two brands - Farmtrac and Escorts) will fit his requirements best. He can then ask for more information about the Farmtrac tractors. This calls for the development of what are known as the "Product Line Brochures" or the "Brand Brochures".
The distribution of the Corporate Brochure is slightly more than the Group Brochure but less than the other brochures that we will talk about. Here the lineage of Escorts group is reflected through a brief write-up about its parent company or by simply stating something to the effect "An Escort Company." Usually in the corporate brochure, a brief write-up of the parent company is preferred.
The Corporate Brochure is cross-selling in two ways. First, by talking briefly about its parent, the Escorts group, it will tell the reader that Escorts is also in the telecom business. If interested, the reader can also ask for more information about the telecom division. Secondly, it is giving information about both its tractor brands or product lines, Escorts and Farmtrac. The customer can choose anyone of them depending on his need.
Product Line Brochures / Brand Brochures
Escorts Tractor Division will have to prepare two Product Line Brochures or Brand Brochures, one for Farmtrac and the other one for the Escorts range of tractors. A lot of details will be forked out regarding the brand and the product line by this particular brochure. It will briefly tell the customer the key benefits (not all the details) of each product which forms a part of the brand or the product line. This way the intending customer can decide which of the specific products suit his needs best, so that he can ask for more details of the specific model. There will be no write-up about the Escorts group in the product line brochure. The lineage of the Escorts group will be represented by its logo or a tag line which says something to the effect "An Escorts Product" or "An Escorts Group Company." It might just have come to your notice that as we climb down the ladder of the promotional structure, we are making a transition from macro level information to more micro level information. Also, we are moving from more general information to more specific and detailed information.
Again, it is very important to cross-sell. The person who is buying a tractor can be interested in either of the brands. As mentioned above, the Brand Brochure for Escorts range of tractors will have a brief write-up about the Farmtrac brand and the Brand Brochure of the Farmtrac brand will contain a brief description of the Escorts brand. This will help the company to cross-sell effectively. Of course, the main focus will be on the specific brand for which we are developing the brochure.
The next in the line of the brochure list is the "Product brochure" or a leaflet. This type of brochure will give complete details about the specific product model including the detailed technical specifications to enable the customer to make his decision.
The customer will get all the information he needs to make a purchase decision. Here also you can cross-sell the other models in the product line to which the product in question is a part of. We need to make sure that the customer is aware of other products available in the product line or brand so that he can ask questions and find the product that best suits his needs. We don’t want him going to our competitor without first fully exploring the range of products that we have.
Usually, all the advertising and promotional material of the company is used in a stand-alone mode. That is, a customer may just be given the Product Brochure of product "A." If he feels that this product does not fit his needs, he may go away to your competition. However, if through the brochure he gets to know that there are other products/models available, there is a high probability that he will ask for information about the other products in the product line.
The above is just the indicative structure and will be modified according to the specific organization and marketing structure of the company and the number of products it has. Imagine Escorts Tractor Division to be having just one product. Given such a situation, it would make sense to prepare just one brochure for the tractor division which will be a combination of the corporate and the product brochures, thus diminishing the need for a product line brochure. Or let us suppose that Escorts had just the Escorts range of tractor. In such a case, one brochure that is a combination of corporate and product line brochure could be made apart from the specific product brochures.
This is not all. The promotional structure would also have to take into account the amount of information that is available about each product line and the budget. For instance, for a small company, the corporate, product line and product brochure can all be combined into one. The idea is to think of the promotional structure in terms of modules. Besides, the structure would also assist you in developing other advertising and promotional material including a website for your company.
There are various advantages of having a promotional structure in place before you start developing advertising and promotional material. Some of these are as follows:
1. The promotional structure will help you avoid duplication of information in your various items of advertising and promotional material, thus avoiding waste and reducing the cost.
2. It will help you to decide the breadth and depth of information that needs to be included in a specific type of advertising and promotional material that you are developing. For instance, there is no need to mention detailed product information in the Group Brochure while it is a must in the Product Brochure.
3. Usually it is difficult, especially in a large company, to prepare all the advertising and promotional material at one time. Promotional structure will assist in the effective development of various advertising and promotional materials in stages. Also, it will help you decide what advertising and promotional material you need first to keep the business of the company ticking in the right direction. Think of the promotional structure in the same way as an organizational structure. You cannot hire all the required people in a day. But if you have the organizational structure in place, you can keep filling in the slots in stages and as per the need of the hour. The promotional structure helps you in the same manner to develop advertising and promotional material.
4. Most important of all, the promotional structure will enable you to tell the story of your organization and its products and services in a logical and convincing manner.
5. Advertising and promotional material developed on the basis of the promotional structure will assist the customer in making an informed decision. Hopefully, to buy your products and services.
So when developing advertising and promotion material, always have the promotional structure in front of you.
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