Marketing Communication

marketing communicationOnce a product has been created and a price determined for it, the marketing focus switches to promotion or communication. However, good a product, it will seldom sell itself. Knowledge about the product must be communicated to potential customers, either through word of mouth, advertising, or some form of display.

Therefore, marketers do not restrict they’re developing want satisfying products and services, price them, and make them available at customers’ doorsteps. The market must be aware of a product’s existence to consider it in the list of alternatives of choice decision.

To make present and potential customers aware of the product’s presence in the marketplace, a marketer must communicate with them using such means as advertising, sales promotion, and public relations.

Contemporary marketers communicate with their customers and the middlemen, various public groups, and suppliers using a complex marketing communication system or marketing communication mix consisting of advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling.

Communication is important in the sense that it links the seller with potential buyers. It is used as an aid in convincing potential customers to turn them into actual buyers. Communication is, therefore, important in the promotion of a firm’s product.

Promotion, if it fails to get potential customers’ attention, becomes a wasted effort. It becomes meaningful if communication is effective. Communication is the way marketers attempt to influence the customer to take the desired actions in the marketplace.

A product offers benefits; place utility is created by distribution; the product’s value is pointed out by price; communication promotes these other factors to potential buyers.

Consumers need to know that a particular product is available and can provide need satisfaction to them. Communication helps marketers to let customers know what they have done to satisfy consumers’ needs.

The role of communication is to contact and establish rapport with individuals, groups, or organizations to directly or indirectly facilitate exchanges by influencing one or more of the audiences to accept a firm’s product.

To facilitate exchanges directly, marketers communicate with selected audiences about a firm and/or its goods, services, and ideas.

Marketers indirectly facilitate exchanges by focusing on communication about company activities and products on interest groups, current and potential investors, regulatory agencies, and society. Viewed from this wider perspective, communication can play a comprehensive role for marketers.

Some communication activities can help a company justify its existence and maintain positive, healthy relationships between itself and various marketing environments.

The marketing instrument’s cutting edge is the message that is communicated to prospective buyers through the various elements in the promotional program. It is the promotional program that serves as the primary channel of communication to prospective customers.

It will help us plan effective promotional programs if we review the communication theory and show its application to develop a promotional strategy. In the next lesson, we shall have a detailed discussion on this.

Marketers often design a communication precisely for a specific audience, although they can direct a single type of communication – such as an advertisement – toward numerous audience.

To get the most benefit from communication efforts, they must make every effort to ensure communications are properly planned, implemented, coordinated, and controlled.

Aims of Marketing Communication

The communication component of the marketing mix includes four major elements. They are advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, publicity, and public relations. These elements are very often used together for synergistic results.

Marketing communication basically includes all aspects of the marketing mix designed to reach and influence target market segments. Generally speaking, marketing communication has four aims;

  1. informing,
  2. persuading,
  3. reminding, and
  4. reinforcing.

Let us now have a look at them:

1. Informing

Almost all marketing communications convey some information about the product: its availability, features, name, use, benefits – in short, what functional and psychological needs the product is aimed to satisfy.

A television commercial for a VCR, for example, tells the viewer that the machine will record while the buyer is away from home and that a remote control device can operate it.

The commercial also claims that videocassette recorders are easy to use by showing an eight-year-old boy putting on a video cassette in the recorder. Marketing communication, therefore, provides prospective buyers both direct and indirect messages.

2. Persuading

Marketing communication also attempts to persuade the audience to move toward some action or develop a positive attitude.

When sales representatives of a new printer point out the newly developed printer features to potential customers and emphasize how fast and economically it operates, they are basically trying to persuade prospects to buy the printer.

3. Reminding

This is another aim of marketing communication. Marketing communication reminds people that the product is still available in the marketplace. When the product is in the latter stages of its life cycle, reminding communications are used to offset competition from newer products.

For example, a company can use newspaper coupons to remind customers that its product has been a favorite for a long and still desired by customers.

4. Reinforcing

Marketing communication reinforces customers’ satisfaction after a purchase is made. A reinforcement serves as a reward for some responses and reduces an individual’s drive. The marketing communication by highlighting the positive aspects may reinforce a buyer to repurchase the same brand and convince others to buy the same.

Concept of Communication and Marketing Communication

“Marketing communications are attempts by a firm to influence the markets’ behavior for its products or services. The salesforce, advertising, and sales promotion are the three principal means of persuasion that are available to the firm.”

Using marketing promotion, marketing executive communicates with the target markets to inform and influence their attitudes and behaviors. Marketing communication tells the target customers that the right product is available at the right and right price. The term communication comes from the Latin word ‘communis.’

When we communicate, we are trying to establish a commonsense with someone. For example, the marketer is attempting to share information about his product’s features, the benefits it offers, and the needs its use will meet.

Promotion and communication are used synonymously in marketing literature. Communication can also be viewed as the transmission of information. Thus the sending and receiving of form is communication.

For promotional purposes, a more useful approach is to define communication as a sharing of meaning. Implicit in this definition is the idea of transmission of information because sharing necessitates transmission.

Marketing communication is the various tools used to inform and persuade people that a firm directs toward its target markets, channel members, and the public. These communications consist of advertising, personal selling, and sales promotion activities.

Marketing management is increasingly finding it profitable to combine advertising, personal selling, packaging, point of purchase, direct mail, product sampling, publicity, and public relations decisions into an integrated promotion strategy for communicating with buyers and others involved in making buying decisions.

Communication can be informative and/or persuasive. With persuasive communication, the aim is to affect the attitude or behavior of the target audience. There are many persuasive communication forms, a speaker addressing an audience, an institution appealing for support, or parties employing sticks in negotiation situations.

In any communication situation, there will be a communicator, the sender or source of a message, the message itself, the channel that carries it, and the audience that receives it. There should also be some feedback from the audience to the communicator.

Promotion is any form of communication an organization uses to inform, persuade, or influence consumers, intermediaries, and various publics. It is an important variable in every organization’s marketing program.

The major promotional methods marketers use in their communication efforts are advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling.

The American Marketing Association defines these terms as follows :

Advertising

Any paid form of nonpersonal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor.

Personal Selling

Personal selling is an oral presentation in a conversation with one or more prospective purchasers to make sales.

Public Relations and Publicity

Nonpersonal stimulation of demand for a product, service, or business unit by planting commercially significant news about it in a published medium or obtaining favorable presentation of it upon radio, television, or stage is not paid for by the sponsor.

Sales Promotion

Those marketing activities, other than personal selling, advertising, and publicity, that stimulate consumer purchasing and dealer effectiveness. They include displays, shows and exhibitions, demonstrations, and various non-recurrent selling efforts not in the ordinary routine.

Organizations have to decide on the proper role of each of these methods in their promotional program.

Marketing Communication Process

Marketers need to understand the communication process to develop an effective promotional program. Communication, the process of sharing meaning, involves the elements. It begins when one party (the Sender) wishes to communicate with another party (the receiver).

The source is the party that wants to share information with someone else. This information must first be encoded. Encoding is choosing symbols (words, pictures, figures) that convey the thoughts to be communicated.

The message is the set of symbols that the sender transmits through communication channels (television, radio, magazines, newspapers, telephone, cellular phone, fax, e-mail, pagers, person-to-person interaction). Communication channels are the paths through which the messages flow. The messages are then decoded.

Decoding is when the receiver assigns meaning to the symbols transmitted by the source or sender. The receiver, or audience, is the individual or group with whom the sender wants to share meaning.

There are three additional elements in the communication process. They are response, feedback, and noise. The response is the reaction of the receives against the decoded message.

Feedback is the receiver’s response that is communicated back to the sender or source. It may take one of several forms: awareness or attitude change, a purchase, or a non-purchase.

The sender is thereby provided with information to be used in evaluating the effectiveness of the communication process. Face-to-face communication, as in personal selling, provides immediate and direct feedback.

On the other hand, mass communication feedback (television, magazine, and radio advertising) could take weeks to obtain and evaluate.

Noise is an element that may enter the communication process at any of its stages. It is anything that distorts or interferes with the communication process.

For example, the message may be encoded into symbols unknown to the receiver. Noise also occurs when a particular communications channel does not match the receiver’s listening, viewing, or reading habits.

Other examples of noise are lack of sender credibility, external interference introduced from outside the communications process, and the competitive noise deliberately introduced by another sender. External noise can also come from rumors that disparage companies or their products.

Thus, the communication process starts with the sender who intends to send some message to the receiver. Sender, in the beginning, must know who his target audience/s is/are and what response he expects from his receiver.

In encoding the message, the sender must keep in mind the nature, characteristics, abilities, and knowledge of the receiver to decode it, matching the encoded message.

The sender should also transmit the message through efficient media to reach the target receiver and develop a feedback system to see how the receiver reacts to the message being transmitted to him. The effectiveness of communication depends greatly on the similarity between the encoded message and that decoded one.

Designing a Communication Program – Developing and Managing Effective Marketing Communication

A marketing communication program design consists of closely coordinated communication efforts planned to achieve specific objectives. The important factors bearing on a communication program design.

marketing communication program

These factors include;

  1. Selecting the target audience,
  2. Setting objectives,
  3. Establishing the budget,
  4. Determining the promotional mix,
  5. Creating the message,
  6. Selecting the channel,
  7. Measure the Communication’s Results,
  8. Manage and Coordinate Integrated Marketing Communication Process,

1. Selecting the Target Audience

The starting point in designing the communication or promotional program is to identify the receiver or target audience. They may be present or potential customers; people influencing the buying process, special interest groups, or the general public.

In developing a communication program, the communicator should have a clear idea about who the target audience is because they determine the message to be communicated, how, when, and where it is communicated.

Audience analysis calls for assessing the company’s current image, its products, or its competitors.

Dr. Kotler defines image as the set of beliefs, ideas, and impressions of an object. In measuring the target audience’s knowledge of the object, a familiarity scale as identified by Kotler shown below can be used:

selecting target audience 1

The pattern of responses will determine the company’s challenge to build awareness among the target audience; if most of the respondents lean toward the first two categories of responses, the company should take extensive communication measures to make more people aware of its product.

After identifying the target audience’s familiarity with the company’s product, the company should take measures to know how they feel about the product.

Using a favorability scale (as developed by Kotler), feelings toward the company’s product can be measured, i.e., the image in the minds of the present and potential buyers can be ascertained. The scale can be seen below:

selecting target audience 2

Responses found using this scale tell us about the image of a company’s product in people’s minds.

If most respondents check the first two categories of response, the company should overcome the negative image since the first two categories represent negative aspects.

To decide on the communication program, management should decide what position it wants to occupy in the marketplace, in the first instance, and then accordingly design a communication program.

Once the target audience is determined, the desired response must be specified. The communicator may then establish the budget and decide how to split the funds among the promotional elements.

Creating the message, choosing the media or channels, planning for implementation, and collecting feedback are the other activities involved in designing a communication/promotion program.

2. Setting Objectives

A Marketer communicates to achieve various responses from the target audience. The objective may influence consumers’ minds to change consumer behavior or affect others.

The researchers have developed several models to show the mental stages a buyer passes through before responding.

One such model is known by the acronym AIDA: awareness, interest, desire, and action. According to the said model, marketers must first build awareness among consumers about a particular subject.

Once consumers become aware of the subject, such as a new shampoo brand, persuasive communication is used to build interest in and desire for the shampoo and, ultimately, to obtain action, i.e., sale.

Another widely used model that also shows buyers passing through a series of stages before the purchase is the hierarchy-of-effects model.

This model indicates that buyers move through stages such as awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, conviction, and purchase. The actual purchase depends on achieving each of the stages that precede it.

Possible Marketing Communication Objectives

1. Desired conditions to achieve in the consumer’s mind
  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Increase product knowledge
  3. Improve brand image
  4. Improve the company image
  5. Increase brand preference
2. Desired conditions to achieve in the consumer’s behavior
  1. Increase store traffic
  2. Increase telephone inquiries
  3. Increase brand trial purchase
  4. Increase repurchases
  5. Increase the frequency of purchase
3. Desired conditions to achieve for a corporate position
  1. Increase cooperation from the trade
  2. Enhance the company’s reputation in the financial community
  3. Enhance the company’s reputation among employees
  4. Increase the influence of public opinion related to corporate welfare
  5. Build-up management ego

promotion and hierarchy of effects model

3. Establishing the Budget

Determining how much to spend on marketing communication or promotion is one of the most difficult marketing decision areas.

Researches have not provided usable standards, nor have practitioners. Economists use the concept of marginal analysis to determine an optimal level of expenditures on marketing communication.

According to marginal analysis, the optimum marketing communication/promotional budget is marginal cost, and marginal revenue is equal. Economists say that expenditures should be made until the last addition to the budget equals the addition’s revenue amount.

In the real world of promotion, no one has been able to make this theory work. Rather the question tends to be answered all too often “with politics, irrationality, opportunism, and vanity.”

It is challenging indeed to assess the results of communication expenditures.

Moreover, achieving objectives does not automatically mean that the expenditures made to obtain the results were worthwhile. One department store executive pointed out, “I know that half of my advertising is wasted. Unfortunately, I don’t know which half.”

Though there is no largely acceptable one best practical approach to determine a communication budget, several methods can be used. Five basic determining the said budget are percentage-of-sales, fixed-sum-per-unit, available funds, competitive comparison, and objective-and-task.

Percentage-of-Sales Method

The percentage-of-sales method is probably the most widely used way of determining the communication budget. This method has become popular because of its simplicity.

Percentage figures may be based on last year’s sales or projected sales for the next year. Basing the percentage of past sales could be considered a regressive method.

On the other hand, basing the percentage on a future time period may be too optimistic. The point is that arriving at a correct percentage is difficult from a practical point of view.

Even within an industry, a perfectly adequate amount for one firm may be woefully small or large for the other.

Though it is widely used, it is logically inconsistent. If communication is intended to stimulate demand, it should be viewed as the cause of sales instead of past or future sales.

Another weakness of this method is its lack of flexibility. Unanticipated economic and competitive conditions may warrant higher or lower expenditures than the amount allocated for communication.

Fixed-Sum-Per-Unit Approach

This approach establishes a promotional budget by setting aside a specified amount for each sale or production unit.

For example, a toothpaste company might apply a seventy paise figure per tube of toothpaste sold of a particular brand.

All Available Funds Method

This approach calls for communication expenditures based on “all we can afford.”

Here, communication is viewed as a luxury that can be cut out altogether during difficult times. This approach may lead to heavy expenditures at one time and insufficient budgets at another.

Competitive Comparison Method

This method is a defensive rather than an aggressive posture.

Here, a company is “keeping up with the Joneses” and assumes the Joneses know what they are doing. In practice, competitors may be just as confused over how much to allocate for the communication budget.

More so, competitors’ promotional objectives might be quite different because of each enterprise’s particular needs.

While individual firms may not release how much they spend on communication, these figures can usually be found in different publications.

Objective-and-Task Method

Under this method, an organization first determines its communication objectives and calculates its cost to achieve those objectives.

This is the most defensible basis for determining the budget because it forces management to define specific communication objectives. Such objectives, in turn, provide a standard for control.

If the objectives are not reached, the communication process elements can be reevaluated, and the management may make appropriate adjustments.

This method is based on two assumptions.

First, the objective is realistic and worthwhile. However, a danger exists that the objective, especially if stated in terms of sales response or market share, is too optimistic for the money available.

The stated objective of a promotion campaign might be to obtain a given percent of the market share within six months of product launch.

Second, the existence of a cause and effect relationship and an ability to measure it. This is difficult because the promotional campaign results are affected by other marketing mix variables and uncontrollable environmental forces.

4. Determining the Communication Mix

The communication tools- advertising, sales promotion, publicity, personal selling – used by an organization represent its promotional or marketing communications mix. The make-up of such varies from product to product, market to market, industry to industry.

For example, the communication mix of such consumer goods as cosmetics usually relies heavily on advertising and sales promotion. Industrial goods such as forklift trucks, and transistors, rely more heavily on personal selling and trade publicity.

Nowadays, educational institutions use advertising, sales promotion, and personal selling to boost lagging enrollments. Marketers face the challenge of determining the proper mix of the communication elements so that all work together to reach the intended audience.

Factors Influencing the Marketing Communication Mix

There are quite a few factors influence companies in developing a given communication mix.

Even though companies have similar objectives, a different emphasis might be placed on each communication tool. For example, company “A’s” products may rely extensively on personal selling, whereas company “B” may devote most of its promotional budget to advertising and sales promotion.

The above examples show no one best method of determining how the communication budget should be allocated among the main promotional elements.

Factors That influence Marketing Communication

Factors That influence Marketing Communication are;

  1. characteristics of the target market,
  2. the communication budget,
  3. type of product,
  4. stage in the product’s life cycle,
  5. distribution strategy, and
  6. buyer-readiness Stage.

Let us now briefly discuss the above-mentioned factors in the following paragraph:

1. Characteristics of the Target Market

The nature of the market itself should be a fundamental factor influencing the marketing communication or promotional mix.

The number, geographic location, and type of customer are important market characteristics that a marketer should consider in deciding the communication mix.

When the number of customers is huge, advertising and sales promotion are the appropriate communication tools to emphasize.

Markets, consisting of millions of people, can be reached economically only through advertising. Personal selling tends to dominate the mix when there are relatively few customers.

The type of customers consisting of the target market also influences the communication mix.

For household consumers, advertising and sales promotion are relied upon at the national level. On the other hand, at the local retail level, advertising and personal selling are emphasized.

Communication programs aimed at industrial customers and intermediaries consist largely of personal selling, although advertising plays an important role.

In the early stage of the buying process, when there is a general lack of awareness, advertising and publicity are effective communication methods.

During the intermediate stages, when interest and preference are important, demonstrations or samples may be appropriate. In the final stage, personal selling, point-of-purchase displays, or retailer ads are emphasized more by a marketer.

2. Communication Budget

The size of the total communication budget affects the relative usage of communication tools. Small firms normally lack funds to launch an advertising campaign on television or in widely circulated publications.

They rather resort to personal selling and various joint promotional efforts with retailers, such as point-of-purchase displays. Large promotional budgets clearly allow for greater flexibility in using a combination of communication tools and communication media.

Organizations that do not or cannot budget for promotion must rely on publicity, word-of-mouth, and voluntary efforts of existing customers and channel members.

3. Type of Product

In consumer goods, sales promotion and advertising are considered the most important marketing communication tools. At the same time, personal selling is the predominant promotional activity for marketing industrial or business goods.

In most industrial goods industries, media advertising expenditures are minimal.

The bulk of the communication budget goes to personal selling. These communication mix differences in consumer and industrial goods marketing.

Each element of the marketing communication/promotional mix has its unique advantages. Advertising requires a far lower expenditure per sales unit than personal selling. Advertising normally plays a large role in the communication strategy for convenience and shopping goods.

Here personal selling has more impact than advertising because an individual message can be tailored for each prospective customer.

The higher expenditure per sales unit is compensated for by its greater effectiveness compared to advertising.

Relative Spending on Promotional Tools in Consumer versus Business Markets

4. Stage in the Product’s Life Cycle

Stage in the Product’s Life Cycle indicated that products pass through several stages of market development: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. That different communication mix elements should be used in each stage of the product life cycle.

While a product is introduced in the market, advertising plays an important role in building consumers’ awareness about the product and stimulating primary demand.

The demand for a particular brand of product (Yamaha motorcycles) is referred to as selective demand. The demand for a product or service from one seller or store rather than another is termed patronage demand.

For new products, publicity often becomes a key element in the communications process. Sales promotion might also play a significant role in inducing people to try the product.

Cost-Effectiveness of Different Promotional Tools at Different Stages of the Product Life Cycle

When the product reaches the growth stage, advertising continues to be a dominant element in the communication mix.

Retailers may assume an important role in the communication effort by participating in the producer’s cooperative advertising programs.

On the other hand, at the maturity stage of the product life cycle, communication strategies rely heavily on advertising to persuade and remind customers.

Large, continuous advertising campaigns are usually necessary if the market is found to be highly competitive.

During the decline stage, companies usually spend less money on advertising. To a lesser extent, sales promotion and personal selling activities are undertaken continuously at this stage.

5. Distribution Strategy

If a marketer follows a push strategy, he attempts to convince a wholesaler that it is advantageous for him to carry a particular item. In turn, the wholesaler will attempt to convince the retailer, who, in turn, will attempt to convince the consumer of the product’s benefit.

Under the pull strategy, a marketer attempts to create direct consumer demand to expect the consumer to ask the retailer for the item.

The retailer will order the item from the wholesaler who will order it from the producer.

Push v Pull Strategy for Marketing

Under the push strategy, a marketer emphasizes basically personal selling and trade incentives to push the product through the marketing channel.

Many incentives, such as price discounts, display allowances, sales contests, etc. may be offered to motivate intermediaries to carry new items.

A pull strategy focuses on advertising and sales promotion to create consumer demand. Using this strategy, marketers hope to pull the product through the channel. Retailers may have little choice but to carry an item customers are demanding.

Such strategies are usually used for such packaged consumer goods as shampoo, soap, and food items. A combination push-pull strategy is also possible, and a lot of marketers use such a combination.

6. Buyer-Readiness Stage

Different stages of buyer readiness also influence the choice of the promotion mix. In the awareness stage, advertising and publicity play the most important roles than personal selling and sales promotion.

Advertising and personal selling should be used more for customer comprehension. Conviction, on the other hand, can be affected more by personal selling.

Personal selling and sales promotion may be used heavily for closing the sale or affecting the ordering stage. Repeat purchase may be affected by advertising, personal selling, as well as sales promotion.

5. Creating/ Designing the Message

The development of an effective message starts when a marketer can define the desired audience response.

When designing a message, a marketer should keep in mind that it should be able to get attention first, hold customers’ interest, and able to lead customers toward action, and it should happen in that order.

Marketers require to solve four problems when formulating messages.

The problems are labeled as;

  1. what should be the content of the message (what to say)?
  2. What should be the structure of the message (how to say it logically)?
  3. What should be the format of the message (how to say it symbolically)?
  4. What should be the source of the message (who should say it)?

Content of the Message

To produce the desired response, the message’s communicator should work out the message’s content in the beginning. Marketers should remember that a particular message may not produce the same response from all of the target audience members since they vary in many ways in terms of their expectations and needs.

Therefore, marketers nowadays prepare different commercials of a single product for different market segments or different areas depending on the variations in segments or areas.

Pepsi Cola, for example, produces a different commercial for different countries to suit local flavor. Management searches for an appeal, theme, idea, or unique selling proposition in determining the best message content, which again can take three forms, such as rational, emotional, and moral.

When an appeal is directed at the audience’s self-interest, we call it a Rational Appeal.

By demonstrating different aspects of a product such as a price, performance, quality, value, distinctiveness, etc. the communicator can relate it to buyers’ self-interest. Buyers are given the idea that this particular product can satisfy their needs best.

When an appeal can create a sensation in buyers by attacking buyers’ positive or negative emotions leading him to buy a particular product, we call it an emotional appeal.

Customers vary in their emotional state. They consider buying those products that match their emotional state- both negative and positive.

If a marketer can associate his product with customers’ emotional state by creating an appropriate appeal, customers will consider his product different than competing brands though it is quite similar to those in reality.

The audience has a sense of what is correct and incorrect, and the amoral appeal is directed at their sense of this belief.

Producers of everyday products use moral appeal less frequently except few exceptions. Some smart companies use moral appeals, such as appealing to people to support social causes to create a positive attitude in people’s minds toward the company and its products.

A cigarette manufacturer in this country uses this appeal very often to exhort people to support its plantation program.

Structure of the Message

The effectiveness of a message not only depends on its content but also on its structure. It is important to present a message’s arguments logically and believably to make it effective.

Message can be structured in both one-sided and two-sided way depending on the level – mental, awareness, readiness, and others – of the audience.

The one-sided message basically highlights the benefits of the product. In contrast, the two-sided message highlights both negative and positive aspects of the product, such as “x brand of toothpaste tastes not good twice a day though it whitens your teeth twice a day.”

In the case of a two-sided message, the communicator must decide which argument he will present first, whether negative or positive.

Format of the Message

The format of the message must be developed soundly so that it is considered very strong. The format depends on the media through which the message will be communicated.

For example, if it is planned to be communicated through radio, the words, voice qualities, and vocalizations must be planned carefully by the communicator since the audience does not see the source.

On the contrary, if the message is planned to be carried through television or in person, the communicator, in addition to the above, must also be conscientious about body movements, the dress of the model, hairstyle, facial expression, gesture, posture, and any other nonverbal cues.

Attention must be paid to the color, texture, scent, size, shape of the product, and packaging if it carries out the message.

On the contrary, the headline, copy, illustration, and color must be chosen very carefully if the message is planned to be carried by print media.

Source of the Message

The Source of the message is again essential in developing the audience’s attitude toward the product. A source is considered likable if he is considered pleasant, perceived honest, and looks physically attractive.

Therefore, marketers use celebrities as sources to draw the audience’s attention and develop a positive attitude. Communicators are also effective when they perceive them as similar to them in appearance and other personal characteristics.

Sometimes it may be useful to choose a communicator who seems least likely to be advocating the argument at hand; that is the ‘unexpected source.’

Unexpected communicators were rated more sincere and honest in a study where “hippies” spoke against marijuana. Source credibility is also important in the effectiveness of the message.

For example, if a renowned dentist testifies the benefits of using a particular toothpaste brand, it will be considered very trustworthy by the audience.

6. Selecting the Channel

The message is carried out using some channels of communication. To be effective, it must be communicated using the most appropriate channels. Therefore, the communicator must select an efficient channel through which his message to be carried out to get maximum coverage.

The communicator can select either of the two types of channels – the personal or nonpersonal – or both – each having distinct characteristics.

Personal Communication Channels

If two or more persons communicate directly with others (individual or group), it can be personal communication.

Personal communication can take different forms such as face to face communication, person to audience communication, communication over telephone, or through the mail. Personal communication can also take other forms, such as advocate, expert, and social channels.

If company salespeople contact buyers of the target market, it can be termed as advocate channel; independent experts who make statements to target buyers are known as an expert channel; and, on the other hand, neighbors, friends, peers, and family members who talk to target buyers in favor of a product can be termed as a social channel.

The expert and social channels are considered very effective by contemporary marketers.

Several steps can be taken by a company to influence people to work on behalf of the company of which the following are important:

  • Identify influential individuals and companies and devote extra effort to them.
  • Create opinion leaders by supplying certain people with the product on attractive terms.
  • Work through community influentials such as the president of the local sports club.
  • Use influential or believable people in testimonial advertising.
  • Develop advertising that has high “conversation value.”

Nonpersonal Communication Channels

If messages are carried without personal contact or interaction, it is known as nonpersonal communication.

The media, atmosphere, and events are examples of nonpersonal communication channels. Media again take different forms such as print, broadcast, electronic, and display.

The packaged environments that may induce a buyer purchasing a product is known as the atmosphere, such as the interior decoration, furniture, point of purchase display, and sales people’s apparent goodwill and behavior.

Conferences, grand openings, sports, cultural events, sponsorship, etc., can be termed as events. The communicator designs them to communicate some message to the target audience to draw their favorable attitudes toward the company and its offers.

7. Measuring Communication’s Results

The marketer needs to measure the result of the marketing communication/ promotion plan being implemented to see how effective it was in reaching and convincing the target group.

Whatever the objectives are chosen, whatever the theme, tools, and media selected, whatever group is the communication target, it must be monitored and controlled to ensure some measure of success.

If display units do not reach retailers in time, if brochures are not attention-getting, communication campaigns can easily backfire if budgets are not enforced. Responsibility for marketing communication should be assigned to a specific individual or group, along with a delegation of authority.

The results can be measured in many ways of which asking members of the target group how much they could remember or recall the message, how many times they have seen or heard the message, what points they can recall, how they felt about the message, their previous and current attitudes toward the product and the company are important.

In addition to that, the behavioral responses of the target audience should also be measured.

Marketers should assess whether the marketing communication/promotion itself increased sales or whether such purchases were simply delayed from previous months when the communication campaign was not undertaken.

8. Managing and Coordinating Integrated Marketing Communication Process

To achieve communication aims, a company can rely on one or more of the communication tools. The selection of tools depends on the type of market the company plans to attack.

In contemporary marketing practices, many of the marketers rely on Integrated Marketing Communications, commonly known as ‘IMC.’

American Association of Advertising Agencies defines ‘IMC’ as “…a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines – for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion, and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications’ impact through the seamless integration of discrete messages”.

IMC produces more message consistency and greater sales impact by enabling the company to reach the right group of customers at the right time and place with the right message.

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