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Various Forms of Marketing Communication
The marketing concept is all about achieving corporate goals by meeting and exceeding customer needs better than the competition. The way to do this is for companies to consider what value they are proposing to offer to their customers and once this decision is made, decide how to communicate this message to their customers/marketplace (Fahy & Jobber, 2012).
It is considered that there are 3 main elements to the marketing communication mix: tools, media and messages (Baines & Fill, 2014). This essay is concerned with the outline and critique of the first two of these, tools and media.
The range of techniques or tools for communication is called the promotional mix: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, personal selling, direct marketing and online promotion (Jobber & Ellis-Chadwick, 2013). Whilst marketing as a subject places a lot of emphasis on the promotional mix, research looking at the influence of promotional mix on the sales turnover of an organisation faced with strong competitors indicated that promotional mix only influenced sales by 25% of the change And other factors such as the product itself, pricing and distribution accounted for the larger 75% (Sunday & Bayode, 2011).
‘A paid form of non-personal communication about an organisation and its products’ (Dibb, et al., 2012, p. 495). Advertising is generally a mass marketing communication technique as its non -personalised message means that it can be aimed at a wide audience.
Its key characteristics are that it can help build awareness because it can reach a wide audience. Also, depending upon the media used to advertise, it can create a strong brand position and it can support the sales effort because it raises awareness. However, by its very nature it is impersonal and as such cannot answer specific questions. Further to this, it has limited ability to close a sale as this normally requires an additional interaction over and above the ad itself.
There are strong and weak theories of advertising (Baines & Fill, 2014). The strong theory assumes that advertising can increase sales for a brand and for a product within that brand, and the weak theory assumes that consumers are driven by habit rather than exposure to advertising communications. Clearly these are two extremes and the reality is that the effectiveness or otherwise of advertising lies somewhere along the scale and is influenced by other factors apart from simply brand or habit.
In marketing, it is considered that advertising decisions are those that are most affected by cultural differences and as such it can be extremely challenging to get the right blend of advertising and sales promotion effort (Ghauri & Cateora, 2014).
Sponsorship and celebrity endorsements are also forms of advertising. Growing interest in celebrities today has led to an increasing use of celebrities in brand and product advertising. Some target markets look to identify closely with their celebrity idols and as such many companies believe that celebrities are particularly useful for targeting a specific market. Evidence suggests however, that campaigns featuring celebrities are not necessarily any more successful than those which use some other form of creativity to capture a consumer but that the use of celebrities can have an impact on brand and reputation based on their own behaviours (Pringle, 2004), so whilst some research suggests that they do not create as much value as might be thought, other research certainly points to the damage that can be caused by negative publicity surrounding celebrities (Thwaites, et al., 2012).
Sales promotions offer incentives such as competitions and special offers to consumers to try to stimulate a purchase (Fahy & Jobber, 2012). These can provide a quick boost to sales but the effects may only last for a short while during the promotional activity and overuse may damage brand image as it can create quality concerns or leave the consumer not believing in the value of the product.
Public relations provides the opportunity to communicate information without paying for it directly. It is considered to be highly credible because the message is coming from a third party. Depending upon where the publicity is, it can result in higher readership than advertising placements but it does mean that there is loss of control of the content (Jobber & Ellis-Chadwick, 2013).
In research looking at the use of public relations in FMCG businesses in the UK which traditionally utilise advertising and sales promotion using publicity rather than public relations, it was found that public relations appeared to be gaining in emphasis and expenditure in the firms interviewed for the research (Kitchen, 1993). The research however, was unclear as to the effectiveness of the increased use.
This is oral selling directly with the purchaser (Fahy & Jobber, 2012). The key characteristics of this type of communication is that it is interactive so questions can be answered and concerns addressed immediately. Because it is a verbal communication, the approach can be adapted depending upon the customer needs. This personal aspect also means that relationships can be established and as such it can have longer lasting effects in regards to follow on sales and complimentary items. Personal selling obviously lead to sales closure but it is costly and time consuming.
Direct marketing ‘encompasses all the communications tools that enable a marketer to deal directly with targeted customers’ (Dibb, et al., 2012, p. 501). This includes direct mail, telemarketing, responsive TV, door to door and the internet. This is deemed to be the fastest growing communication tool largely as a result of the internet growth (Dibb, et al., 2012).
Direct marketing communication can be personalised and its effectiveness can be easily and quickly measured. It is possible to build a relationship through contact and therefore ensure ongoing sales and it is not visible to competitors. However, it is slow and the response rates are often low and it can create annoyance and frustration in consumers if it is incorrectly targeted.
Online Promotion/Digital Promotions
This is ‘the promotion of products to consumers and businesses through digital media channels’ (Jobber & Ellis-Chadwick, 2013, p. 514). It offers the following key characteristics: ability to reach global audiences with ease, highly measurable, interactive and although not quite as quick as personal selling as it can nonetheless be very rapid and it is easy to adapt, change and react.
It can however, be a significant cost to develop an appropriate website and there are security risks to consider. It is also transparent for competitors to see but most companies today however, do have a website that is a key element in their marketing efforts (Mohr, et al., 2010).
There are a number of classes of media including broadcast which encompasses television and radio, print which is the press and magazines and digital such as the internet. There are other classes such as out-of-home, in-store and other such as cinema and exhibitions but these other classes are secondary in nature as they are more limited in the audience they reach or are able to target (Baines & Fill, 2014).
Television and radio offer the opportunity to reach mass audiences. It is often considered to be expensive but due to the large mass that can be reached it is a relatively low cost and given that it is visual and/or sound based the communications can be effectively brought to life in order to convey the marketing message. Both television and radio can tell stories and appeal to emotions which is more difficult to do with print based media. Broadcast television can demonstrate the product in use but once advertised it cannot be referred to again by the consumer unlike print which can be kept.
There are increasing threats to the effectiveness of television advertising today as people are able to use their recording technologies to avoid watching ads. At the same time improvements in digital technologies mean that costs are falling and so even television broadcast can begin to be tailored to smaller audiences who can be targeted by geographical area or special interest groups (Jobber & Ellis-Chadwick, 2013).
There are clear signs that television networks are beginning to pay more attention to the viewer complaints about the extent of advertising with many networks such as CBS, Fox, MTV and cable TV in general now showing either lower minutes per hour in ads or the growth in minutes per hour slowing down. This will increase the cost of advertising as there will be less time and space available but it may improve the effectiveness of the ads as the reduced volume may allow consumers to consider those that they do see more thoroughly (Wall Street Journal, 2007).
Radio broadcast is clearly sound limited but as such is most effective in communicating factual information and it can be targeted by paying for advertising at specific times of the day. Furthermore, its effectiveness has increased with digital technology which can now allow listeners to view some limited information in their digital displays while the ad is running.
Print consists largely of newspapers and magazines and is considered to be effective at delivering messages to target audiences (Baines & Fill, 2014). Pictures can help show off a product or demonstrate its use as well as words to describe the product and its benefits. It does give control to the consumer in that they can determine how long they want to read the information for. Again though, this is a changing medium as the increase in tablet use means that press is now also delivered digitally allowing for some of the printed information to then be developed into full digital marketing using click through technologies (Jobber & Ellis-Chadwick, 2013).
Digital media includes the internet, online marketing, wireless, mobile and interactive television. Digital media allows the opportunity for a two way communication. It allows a business to gain feedback and interact with the customer. Digital interactions are high speed, low cost and usually have great clarity. Because space and time in other media channels such as television or print are limited, cost can increase as demand for the space and time increases but space is unlimited on the internet and as such costs per contact with customers actually falls as more and more customers are reached.
Within each type of media, the decision on which tool to utilise still needs to be determined. Advertising can clearly use all 3 but they each offer different advantages and disadvantages from a marketing perspective. Digital is relatively cheap compared to broadcast and print as well as being more flexible in that it is easier to update quickly to respond to changes. Internet adverts can also incorporate games and entertainment which is more difficult with regular broadcast and not possible with print. Because internet adverts can be interactive they can also be more personalised and they can be location based. They can advertise something by accessing the location of consumers and targeting them very specifically. Many companies already do this by ‘pinging’ to mobile phones in the area that the customer is in.
The biggest setback to internet advertising is that consumers can view them as intrusive. Pop-ups suffer more consumer complaints than other types of advertising, internet or other (Baines & Fill, 2014). Furthermore, research comparing old and new media channels in respect of their attributes and to determine effectiveness found that the traditional broadcast and print channels were still perceived by consumers, including younger consumers, as more reliable and trustworthy in their messaging (Danaher & Rossiter, 2011).
Further research supports that by Danaher & Rossiter referred to above, in concluding that the most effective advertising channels are the traditional media of television and direct mail and that although these are still the most expensive, the expense appeared to be worthwhile. Radio was found to be consistently effective whereas online display ads were consistently ineffective (Danaher & Dagger, 2013).
This is a rapidly changing environment for businesses and their consumers. Some believe that ‘successful companies will engage customers through “omnichannel” retailing: a mashup of digital and physical experiences’ (Rigby, 2011). The world today is an offers a wide range of easily accessible information for consumers and businesses and it is easy to imagine how ideas and interactions can lead to greater success for businesses if they can find the right balance to address the consumers and deliver to their expectations.
Each marketing tool and media channel has advantages and disadvantages and the reality is that effective marketing should look to an appropriate combination of the promotional mix delivered via a range of media to ensure that it makes the right offer to consumers using the most effective method to deliver its message.
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