12 Common Types of Sales Promotions (With Examples)

Updated March 10, 2023

Marketing promotions are one of the most effective ways to increase your company's sales. Promotions, which can include discounts, coupons and more, are short-term strategies that aim to turn more people into customers. Implementing a promotion can also increase brand awareness, product sales and company profits. In this article, we share 12 popular types of promotions with examples you can use to inspire your own selling strategy.

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What is a sales promotion?

A sales promotion is a short-term marketing strategy that a company can use to persuade people to become customers. Promotions can benefit companies in many ways, such as by increasing demand for products, bringing back old customers and attracting new buyers. Promotions can take many different forms to appeal to a variety of customers and accomplish various goals, but they all serve to increase your company's customer base.

Related: 11 Ideas for Product Promotion

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Types of promotions

There are many forms of sales promotions that you can use in different situations. Here are several types and examples of promotions to consider:

Product discounts

Offering discounts on products is one of the most popular types of sales promotions. Your company can advertise a discount on a product, such as $15 off or 20% off, to attract customers to your company rather than to your competitors with similar products. Furthermore, by offering a discount for a limited amount of time, you can ensure that your promotion does not make your company lose money. For example, if your company is a hardware brand, you could offer a 15% discount on power tools for one weekend only.

Related: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How To Use It


Coupons are another popular form of promotion. To encourage customers to purchase from your company, you can send printable coupons to customers via email or physical coupons through the mail. You can also include an expiration date on your coupons to urge customers to make purchases from your company soon.

Consider sending coupons to customers who have not been satisfied with your company's products—this can convince them to give your company a second chance. For example, if a customer was unsatisfied with an order of your company's custom cookies, you could give them a coupon for a free box of cookies to attempt to redeem your company's reputation.

BOGO deals

BOGO stands for "buy one get one," and these deals allow customers to purchase one product and get another product for free or for a reduced price. You can also use this type of promotion to liquidate inventory. For example, your furniture company could advertise BOGO throw pillows for three days to make extra sales and quickly clear out your throw pillow inventory to prepare for new merchandise.

Loyalty programs

Loyal customers can contribute heavily to a company's success, and setting up a loyalty program is a great strategy for retaining customers. You can invite a customer to sign up for a loyalty program card that gives them points and discounts for being a loyal customer. Accumulating loyalty points over time can give a customer an incentive to keep purchasing from your company consistently.

Related: Customers: Definition, Types and Examples

Lifestyle discounts

Lifestyle discounts are given to certain types of customers, such as senior citizens, veterans, teachers and students. To attract these customers, consider implementing a lifestyle discount program. For example, you could have a "senior day" each week, where senior citizens receive a discount on their purchases.

Alternatively, your company could offer college students a discount if they show their student ID card or input their student identification number while making a purchase. Using a lifestyle discount like this can inspire a particular consumer group to come back to your business, and they may be more likely to recommend your business to other people as well.

Flash sales

Flash sales, which often run for only one day, create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make purchases immediately. Because of their speed, flash sales can be especially effective for businesses that make most of their sales online. An example of a flash sale could be offering 25% off all of your products for one day only if customers use a specific coupon code.

Social media giveaways

One way to increase brand awareness on social media is by running a social media giveaway, where people can enter in a random drawing to win a prize that you offer. To increase your social media following, you can set rules for your giveaway. For example, one rule could be that people who enter have to follow your account and tag three friends in your post. This can increase your company's social media presence and attract new customers that might not have heard of your company before.

Related: How To Build Your Social Media Presence

Free shipping or free returns

To boost your company's online sales, consider a promotion that offers free shipping or free returns. Saving money on shipping or the promise of free returns can give your customers an incentive to place an online order. You could provide free shipping for everything on your website, or you could offer it to customers who spend a certain amount of money on their order. Free shipping on all products may serve as a short-term promotion, whereas you could offer free shipping for orders of $50 or more year-round, for example.

Holiday promotions

Typically, consumers spend more money around the holidays, so you can offer special holiday promotions to maximize your company's sales during these times. Holiday promotions could take the form of discounts or other deals that are valid only during the holidays. Consider focusing on products your company carries that are related to the holiday, such as candy or costumes around Halloween. Additionally, you could also use the theme of the holiday to design an advertisement around your promotion.

Related: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful


To encourage a customer to try more of your company's products or services, you can bundle a few together at a discounted price. For example, if your company makes environmentally friendly cleaning products, you could prompt customers to try multiple products by bundling together your company's bathroom cleaner, window cleaner and hand soap for a lower price than it would cost to buy the products separately.

Free samples

To introduce people to a product, you can give out free samples to potential customers whether or not they make a purchase. People often like to try products before committing to buy them, and giving out free samples can make customers more likely to come back to your company and purchase the full version of the product.

For example, you could give a customer a free sample of your company's new tea flavor. If they enjoy the sample, they might come back and purchase a whole box of your tea bags.

Free gifts with purchase

One more popular promotion strategy is to include free gifts in customers' orders as an incentive to place a larger order. This allows your company to sell more products, and customers often enjoy this tactic. For example, if your company sells makeup, you could offer a free makeup bag with a purchase of $75 or more. This could incentivize your customers to add enough makeup to their shopping cart to total at least $75, increasing your company's revenue.

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