and Place Marketing - Promotion, Sales, and Advertising
By Sam Vaknin
IV. Promotion, Sales, Public Relations, Marketing,
Advantages have to be communicated to potential
customers if they are not to remain unrealized
potentials. Moreover, communication alone - the
exchange of information - is not enough. Clients
have to be influenced and motivated to visit a
country, invest in it, or trade with it.
This is where promotion comes in. Not to be confused
with marketing, it is concerned with setting up
a trained sales force, and with advertising, sales,
and public relations.
We deal with sales forces at length in our next
installment. Suffice to say, at this stage, that
poor countries will be hard pressed to cater to
the pecuniary needs of high-level and, therefore,
expensive, salespersons. Setting up a body of
volunteers under the supervision, guidance, and
training of seasoned sales personnel maybe a more
Advertising is a different ballgame. There is
no substitute for a continued presence in the
media. The right mix of paid ads and sponsored
promotions of products, services, and ideas can
work miracles for a country's image as a preferred
Clever, targeted, advertising also ties in with
sales promotion. Together they provide the customer
with both motivation and incentive to "buy"
what the country has on offer. Brand switching
is common in the global arena. Investors and tourists,
let alone exporters and importers, are fickle
and highly mobile. This inherent disloyalty is
a boon to new and emerging markets.
An interesting and related question is whether
countries constitute similar or dissimilar brands.
In other words, are countries interchangeable
(fungible) as investment, tourism, and trade destinations?
Is cost the only determining factor? If countries
are, indeed, mere variants on given themes, acquiring
and sustaining permanent market shares (inducing
a market shift) may prove to be a problem.
The answer is that the issue is largely irrelevant.
Specialization and brand differentiation may be
crucial inside countries - in domestic markets
- but, they are not very important in the global
Why is that?
Because the global marketplace is far less fractionated
than national markets. Niche investors, off-the-beaten-track
tourists, and boutique traders are rarities. Multinationals,
organized package tours, and commodity traders
rule the Earth and they have pretty similar tastes
and uniform demands. Catering to these tastes
and demands makes or breaks the external sector
of a country's economy.
Enter public relations.
While advertising and sales promotion try to
access and influence the masses - public relations
focuses on opinion-leaders, decision-makers, first-movers,
and tipping points. Public relations is also concerned
with the country's partners, suppliers, and investors.
It directly appeals to major tour operators, foreign
legislators, multinationals, and important non-government
organizations (NGOs), as well as regional and
As the name implies, public relations is about
follow-up (monitoring) and relationships. This
is especially true in the country's dealings with
the news media and with specialized publications.
Press conferences, presentations, contests, road
shows, one-on-one meetings or briefings, seminars,
lobbying, and community events - are all tools
of the twin trades of marketing public relations
and image management.
A recent offshoot of the discipline of public
relations - which may be of particular relevance
and importance where countries are concerned -
is crisis management. Public awareness of crises
- from civil wars to environmental disasters -
can be manipulated within limits of propriety
and veracity. Governments would do well to appoint
"public policy and image advisors" to
tackle the periodic flare-ups that are an inevitable
part of the political and the economic dimensions
of an increasingly complex world.
Yet, even governments are bottom-line orientated
nowadays. How should a country translate its intangible
assets into dollars and cents (or euros)?
Sales force and marketing intermediaries are
the topics of our next article.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self
Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain
- How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist
for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline,
and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI)
Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor
of mental health and Central East Europe categories
in The Open Directory and Suite101. Until recently,
he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government
of Macedonia. Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com