Ethiopian Business Development Services Network (EBDSN)

 Promotion Strategies

Home  I  FeMSEDA  I  ReMSEDAs  I  Chambers  Finance  I   BDS providers  Networks I  Associations  I  NGO/Projects


 Business Environment
 Support Institutions
 Photos+Success Stories
 Lessons learnt
 BDS News
 BDS relevant Links


 Sector Development
 Textile and Garments
 Leather and Footwear
 Food processing


 Business Information
 Start your Business
 Write a business plan
 Cost calculation manual
 Marketing guide
 Export-Import guide
 Trade fair guide
 Trade opportunities
 Investment guide
 Tender guide
 Women and business
 Organize MSE exhibition
 Loan conditions
 Vocational training
 Improve your
 business association
 Appropriate Technology
 Standards and Quality
 Country Info,
 Business environment



Website Statistics




Marketing home  I  Problems  I  Strategies  I  Managing prices
Product Development  I  Tenders


Promotion Strategies



The very definition of promotion in a dictionary is 'to further progress', 'to rise to a higher grade', 'to take steps for the passage or formation of'. Likewise, the very definition of promotion in marketing is 'marketing activities designed to stimulate the customer’s purchasing needs. It is one of instruments in the marketing mix that is designed to remind and persuade customers into buying a product or service.

Exporting requires more than the traditionally used promotional schemes. Planning for personal involvement that can keep the firm in touch with quality customers is an important tool. The promotional mix encompasses advertisement, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion.


Approaching potential Buyers  top

In promotion, “Trade mission” has an important role to play. After undertaking market research and potential buyers are identified, a visit to the market area is an effective strategy. During the visit, make sure you are equipped with all-important promotional tools such as:

  • business cards;

  • brochures;

  • samples;

  • video tapes;

  • order slips;

  • export and investment policies.

When necessary prepare “product kits” for demonstration purposes. Buyers could be more convinced when product demonstration is done. When visiting the potential buyer’s manufacturing location, please dress appropriately.

Personal participation is important, at least
until the business stands on its own feet.


Promotion through Demonstration  top

Customers want to try and test some products before making purchasing decisions. Importers prefer that a demonstration program be set to see the quality features and benefits of the product they plan to buy. In such cases, demonstrations can be effectively implemented to convince buyers. Consumers prefer to test that the product they intend to buy is in line with their expectations in terms of quality, precision and functionality.

Product demonstration as a promotional tool will be seen from different aspects; and to this effect a few points will be discussed below. Some people are more sensitive to what they see and feel in comparison to what they only hear and demonstrations allow clients to assess the product using all senses. Distribute samples and brochures during the demonstration. Try to make the presentation short and precise. Avoid making it complicated and difficult to understand and use the buyer’s effectively. During the presentation it is not all about talking, it is also about listening as well. Listening to buyer is an asset. Allow the audience to whom you are demonstrating to ask questions to clear doubts and to express their expectations and needs.

Discussions during demonstrations allow the sales person to understand the potential customer’s special needs and expectations, which leaves the customer additionally feeling respected. Besides, your appearance during demonstration is also important. An appropriately dressed and groomed presenter grasps the attention of the audience. Try to make the presentation personal. Refer to the buyer by his name or that the company was able to achieve a positive result. The customer should be given the feeling that you are there to inform him, show him the product, answer his questions and listen to his opinions. Video or web page promotion in marketing is becoming popular nowadays and it is becoming more convincing too. Buyers like to be able to see how manufacturing methods and arrangements of products work. This type of demonstration is very effective when it is done for an association, a large company or a group of organized customers. If the company can afford to provide a videotape that demonstrates product operations appropriately, then it will undoubtedly make the presentation effective. People analyse what they see in the videotape or on the web page.

Demonstrating is common during trade fairs particularly for manufactured goods. Trade fairs have a large influence in motivating buyers. It is an important promotional tool and is a means of exposing MSE products to potential buyers. Organizing trade fairs is expensive and can therefore only be accomplished with the assistance of MSE business development organizations. Through trade fair product sampling the product can be actually seen and operators can meet customers face to face, since, as is said, "seeing is believing." There could be products of MSEs whose customers have not yet been ascertained, due to the micro enterprises being mostly located in squint and distant areas. A trade fair creates a platform for distributing flyers, brochures and other forms of literature.

Event participation is also an effective tool and could be a relatively cheaper scheme. In some cases, sending staff of enterprises to assist in the event could suffice, if the firm does not have a budget for this.


Demonstration Pack/Kit

A demonstration pack is a kit that that contains few tools to illustrate or present the product. Depending on the product intended for presentation, the demonstration kit can contain:

  • product sample;

  • catalogues/flyers which explain the product’s quality, price, customer service and means of distribution;

  • business card;

  • testing tools such as scales, tensometers, solutions, dolls and anything relevant to testing the product;

  • coloured product photos;

  • product information with video tapes or slides;

  • client testimonial letters as a means of reference;

  • promotional literature with usage and competitive advantage tips;

  • any motivational materials such as gift products.


Telephone Handling  top

Telephone handling is part of personal selling. When a customer calls and he is confronted with difficulties in contacting the firm he becomes discontented very rapidly. Some even conceive the firm as being negligent and unskilled in handling business.

The telephone has to be handled efficiently. A telephone that rings for a long time is frustrating to the customer. More so, if the call is received and the customer is made to hold online for an extended period it is equally bad. Staff assigned to answering calls should clearly understand that they are there to assist callers who are key factors for the company's existence.


Promotion through the Internet

Although some organizations may not want to use Internet promotion, there are instances where they will be forced to use them. Once the target audiences are set, the program can be focused on the target market in a manner that will interest and attract them. Through Internet usage business organizations can easily achieve the following:

  • create communication between the company, potential buyers, distributors and agents;

  • feed buyers with all relevant sales information;

  • encourage buyers to order through the network system.

Promotion through the Internet is easy and fast. However, it is equally, easy to give a bad impression and to damage the reputation of a selling company. Nowadays, business based on the Internet is growing faster than ever. In relation to telecommunications development the Internet and its mobility will dominate. By means of the Internet issues such as those mentioned-below can be discussed and transmitted:

  • company product ranges;

  • how to get products;

  • contact details of agents and distributors;

  • price and payment facilities;

  • stock availability;

  • delivery options;

  • time required for delivery;

  • product specifications, designs and levels of grade;

  • shipping costs;

  • opinion of customers;

  • alteration of sales conditions;

  • order placing.

Some surveys indicate that access of African countries to the Internet have risen over the past five years. The figure of 1998 indicates that presently many African countries have access, among which 44 African countries have full access in the capital cities.


Promotion through Flyer or Brochure  top

Developing a flyer is also an important promotional approach. Although a flyer can be smaller in comparison to a brochure, it should contain all the important facts that will help market the product. A flyer has to:

  • communicate values;

  • pass the required message on;

  • be attractive.

Whatever statement is in the content it has to be substantiated. The flyer has to illustrate the product and its packaging design. Sometimes customers are good sources of evaluating the flyer before it is printed and distributed.

The need for having a brochure is higher in international markets in comparison to domestic markets. The brochure has to entail some sort of creativity, so that it will attract readers. A brochure has to match international standards, although issuing a good brochure is expensive. Consumers assume that, if the brochure has first class resemblance, then product is it too.

A brochure should exude confidence to buyers and pass a message that the product is qualitative and that the company is honest in serving its customers. One of the objectives of offering a catalogue to a customer is to help him look into points that can guide him into deciding to buy the product. The brochure has to:

  • communicate values;

  • convey positive messages;

  • be attractive, informative and easy to read;

  • assist customers in seeing what the business looks like.

The brochure has to be in the language of the target market and the usage of jargon words that cannot be understood should be avoided. Adding concrete manufacturing data that may interest customers are helpful.

A catalogue that does not explain functional features and benefits
of the product is ineffective. Avoid using laudatory expressions and statements.

Customers that are short of time refer to brochure. Brochures are one of the best means of promotion, however, it has to be the right brochure. When considering the high costs of the “first-rate” catalogue, also consider the issue of saving because it encourages and motivates the audience into closing sales. The brochure has to consider the following compelling and important marketing issues:

  • attractive cover page, company’s name and logo, including testimonials, using photos and including effective slogans.

Buyers visiting the Exporter’s Firm  top

In many instances, buyers prefer to visit manufacturing locations before placing an order because in some cases samples do not tell the truth about mass production. During the visit, international buyers like to clarify the following issues for themselves.

  • the product mixes, sizes and colours; the quality standards; the operational efficiencies; the manufacturing capacities; the skills of the staff; the organizational capacities; the shipping efficiency.

During the discussion with the buyer, the firm should not 'bad mouth' any competitor. Stressing one’s own capability and superiority is the best strategy to take. All questions should be answered and they should only leave the enterprise with a trial sample and a brochure to take reference to.


Office Setting  top

Promotion through an appealing office is a connection of memory between the seller and the buyer. In addition, office decorations have to be relevant to the business. Avoiding impertinent office adornments is wise.

Office personality is a selling strategy. The image of a company's product is advertised by doing business in a presentable office. A business organization with a satisfactory working place will be accepted more. The appearance of the office entrance is critical because foreign customers always get a first impression as they arrive.

Designing an office is part of personal selling. The way an office is designed or decorated has an impact in sales. However, the firm does not need to use expensive furniture, but presentable ones. It is undesirable to have an office with:

  • display panel full of dust; torn curtains; broken taps in the washroom;

  • dark and dusty offices; no fresh air.

The above-mentioned conditions send a message that gives the impression that management is not at all concerned. In addition, it provides an impression that staff members have a careless stance towards the business organization. The consequence is that buyers loose confidence and refrain from doing business with a management who is not serious towards the total concerns of the business.


Checklist for Promotion

  •  What are your promotional measures to approach potential buyers?

  • Do you dispose of demonstration kits?

  • Do you participate on trade fairs and expositions?

  • Consider the advantages of having a trade name and trademark.

  • Consider packaging aspect?

  • What kind of promotion do your competitors conduct?

  • How do you choose a certain promotional approach?

  • Considering different promotional methods and partners.

  • Did you compare the costs of different promotional programs?

  • How is your office and factory presentation?


back to the top

Home  I  Problems  I  Strategies  I  Managing prices
Product Development  I  Tenders


Business Development Services (BDS) Forum edited by Dieter Gagel, freelance consultant, providing information on BDS strategies, networking
and practical BDS case studies as well as business information on marketing, business planning, bookkeeping and
cost calculation, import-export, trade fairs and access to finance.

New BDS Portal in Senegal .
One of the biggest national BDS portals world wide!

Value Chain Development in Ethiopia