What’s the difference between promotions and distribution strategies in digital marketing?

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Today, I posted this on some social networks:

Have you ever written a blog post?




Facebook post?

Not by myself.

Do you know the difference between promotions and distribution strategies?

I’ll have to dig deeper into that, but looked at that in college.

OK, hired as as top content person.


On LinkedIn, I later added this comment:

Sidenote: I’m actually surprised how many actual marketing executives don’t know the difference between distribution and promotion.

Yes, it was inspired by this hearing for a judgeship where a nominee couldn’t positively answer some questions about having worked as a lawyer.

So with the above I continue on a third day of politically inspired (charged?) posts.Taking my tongue-in-cheek social media post as a starting point: The question of what is the difference between a promotions strategy and a distribution strategy is one probably worth looking into further here.And the two strategies are certainly related but just like siblings they’re not exactly the same. So let me dive in.

What is a distribution strategy?

Distribution strategy in digital marketing/content marketing includes:

  • A decision on what networks to use to distribute your content
  • Publication schedules
  • Frequency of post across numerous networks
  • If funds are available to do paid promotions.

The distribution strategy also would determine if we use a true Create Once, Publish Everywhere model-where content is re-distributed sometimes without a link-or are using more of the model where everything has to link back to something from social media. I’m typically more of a fan of the model for you don’t always link but you link when it makes sense.

So the distribution strategy involves organic and also paid options for distribution. And depending on where we are in the current digital landscape sometimes we don’t need paid promotions and sometimes we do. For example, when Facebook first came around brands could do a lot without ever spending a dime on ads and early on they didn’t even have ads. Today in late 2017 it’s nearly impossible to reach people on Facebook without spending money with Facebook.

What’s a promotions strategy?

Now that we discussed what a distribution strategy is let’s talk about a promotions strategy.

Promotions strategy at the simplest level includes all paid aspects of a distribution strategy. Sometimes a promotion strategy can stand on its own. But often it should be part of an overall organic and paid distribution strategy.

So if I were to say that my promotion strategy includes sharing my blog post organically on Twitter, that’s technically incorrect under these definitions. The organic piece is just that – organic distribution, which is part of your distribution strategy.

Now, if I were to put money behind the post and promote it that would now be part of my promotions strategy.


Clear as mud, right? Now it is important that teams use language and terminology that everybody agrees on. So that’s why I’m offering these definitions to you and I’ve used these definitions over many many projects with several teams.Of course, knowing the definitions and agreeing on terminology within the team is important. What’s much more important is to actually distribute and then promote our content as relevant and to help us reach ourgoals.

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