We now examine the steps involve in developing an effective marketing communications and promotion program.
A marketer starts with a clear target audience in mind. The audience may be current users or potential buyers, those who make the purchasing decision or those who influence it. The target audience might be individuals, groups, the general public or special publics. They will heavily affect the communicator’s decisions on what will be delivered, how it will be delivered, when it will be delivered, where it will be delivered, and who will deliver it.
When target audience has been known, marketers will now determine the desired response. Of course, in several cases, they will seek a purchase response. But purchase may result only after a long consumer decision-making process. The marketing communicator must know where the target consumer now stands and to what stage it requires to be moved. The target consumer may be in any of six buyer-readiness stages, the stages consumers normally pass through on their way for making a purchase. These stages include awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, conviction, and purchase. Thus, the communicator should first build awareness and knowledge.
After defining the desired audience response, the communicator then turns for developing an effective message. The message must get attention, hold interest, arouse desire, and obtain action. While putting the message together, the marketing communicator should decide what to say (message content) and how to say it (message structure and format).
The marketer should figure out an appeal or theme which will produce the desired response. There are different kinds of appeals: rational, emotional, and moral. Rational appeals relate to the consumer’s self-interest. They show that the product will generate the desired benefits. Emotional appeals attempt to stir up either positive or negative emotions that can motivate purchase. Marketing communicator may use emotional appeals that range from love, joy, and humor to guilt and fear. Emotional messages attract more attention and create more belief in the sponsor and the brand. The moral appeal is directed to a consumer’s sense of what is “right” and “proper.” They are often used to urge people for supporting social causes.
Marketers must have to decide about handling of the three message issue.The first one is whether to draw a conclusion or leave it to the consumer. Research suggests that, in various cases, rather than drawing a conclusion, the marketer is better off asking questions and letting the customer come to their own conclusions.
The second message structure issue is whether to present the strongest arguments at beginning or last. Presenting them first gets strong attention but might take to an anticlimactic ending. The last and third message structure issue is whether to present a one-sided argument (mentioning only the strengths of the product) or a two-sided argument (touting the product’s strengths and also admitting its shortcomings). Normally, one-sided argument is more effective in sales presentations—except when consumer are mostly educated or likely to hear opposing claims or when the communicator has a negative association to overcome.
The marketing communicator requires a strong format for the message. In a print ad, they have to decide on the headline, copy, illustration, and colors. To attract the attention of the buyers, advertisers could use novelty and contrast; eye-catching headlines and pictures; message size and position; distinctive formats and color, shape, and movement. If the message is to be communicated over the radio, the communicator has to choose words, sounds, and voices. The “sound” of an ad that promotes banking services must be different from one promoting an iPod. If the message is to be communicated on television or in person, then all these components plus body language should be planned. Presenters plan every detail—facial expressions, dress, gestures, posture, and hairstyles. If the message is communicated on the product or its package, the communicator should watch texture, color, scent, size, and shape. For example, color alone can enhance message recognition for a brand.
The communicator now select the channels of communication. There are two types of communication channels: personal and non-personal.
Personal Communication Channels
Two or more than two people communicate directly with each other in the personal communication channel. They may communicate face to face, on the phone, through mail or e-mail, or even through an Internet “chat.” These communication channels are effective because they allow for personal addressing and feedback. Some personal communication channels are controlled directly by the organization. For example, firm salespeople contact business buyers. But other personal communications about the product might reach buyers via channels not directly controlled by the organization. These channels might consists of independent experts— online buying guides, consumer advocates, and others—making statements to buyers. They might be friends, neighbors, family members, and associates talking to target buyers. Personal influence carries huge weight for products which are expensive, risky, or highly visible.
Non-personal Communication Channels
Those media which carry messages without personal contact or feedback is considered as Non-personal communication channel. They consist of major media, atmospheres, and events. Major media include print media (magazines, newspapers, direct-mail), broadcast media (radio, television), display media (billboards, posters, signs), and online media (e-mail, company websites, and online social sites and sharing networks). Atmospheres are designed environments which create or motivate the customer’s leanings toward buying a product. Thus, lawyers’ offices and banks are designed for the communication of confidence and other qualities which might be valued by clients. Events are staged occurrences which communicate messages to target customers.
In both personal or non-personal communication, the message’s impact also depends on how the target consumer views the communicator. Messages that are delivered by highly credible sources are more persuasive. Thus, most of the food companies promote to doctors, dentists, and other health-care providers to encourage these professionals in order to suggest specific food products to their patients. And marketers hire celebrity endorsers—well-known actors, athletes, musicians, and even cartoon characters— for delivering their messages.
A host of NBA superstars lends their images to brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike and McDonald's. But firms must be careful while selecting celebrities to represent their brands. Selecting the wrong spokesperson may result in embarrassment and a tarnished image of the brand. For example, the Kellogg Company dismissed Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps after he was caught on video smoking marijuana.
After sending the message, the communicator must have to research its effect on the target consumer. This involves asking the target audience members whether they remember the message, how many times they saw it, what are the points they had recalled, how they felt about the message, and their past and present attitudes toward the product and firm. The communicator should also like to measure behavior resulting from the message—how many people bought the product, talked to other people about the product, or visited the store. Feedback on marketing communications might suggest changes in the promotion program or in the offer of the product itself. For example, Mary uses newspaper and television advertising for informing area consumers about its stores, services, and merchandising events.
Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2013). Principles of Marketing. Chennai: Pearson India Education Services Pvt Ltd.