Marketing Communications

For Marketers, you must understand the importance of effective internal and external communications in building sustainable relationships and delivering customer value.

Recognise the importance of communications planning in delivering marketing solutions, and of how product and brand management can enable organisations to deliver customer value.

There are different components of the marketing communications mix that are needed to understand integrated marketing communications (IMC) planning.

What is Marketing Communications?

Communications lie at the root of all organisational activity, whether in consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), not-for-profit or any other market.

New technologies and changes in communication models have meant that businesses must adapt and change as well. Marketing must take into account innovations on the internet/web, the proliferation of mobile devices and ‘apps’ (software applications), social media and usergenerated content (UGC).

Understand the key terms

Internal marketing

Gummesson (2002) describes this
“The objective of internal marketing within relationship marketing is to create relationships between management and employees, and between functions. The personnel can be viewed as an internal market, and this market must be reached efficiently in order to prepare the personnel for external contacts: efficient internal marketing becomes an antecedent to efficient external marketing.”

Relationship marketing

A marketing approach based on relationships rather than individual transactions. Areas in relationship marketing and integrated marketing communications “intertwine and reinforce each other.” (Chris Fill 2013)

Integrated marketing

Joined-up marketing, which is what all Marketers should be doing in the real world.

Marketing communications
The third P (Promotion) in the 4P marketing mix of Product, Price, Promotion and Place.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC)

Joined-up marketing communications, which, again, is what all marketing communications and Marketers should be doing.

Stakeholders

Individuals or groups who depend on an organisation to achieve their own goals and on whom, in turn, the organisation depends. Stakeholders may be:

  • Internal (employees and managers).
  • Connected (customers, shareholders, financiers, suppliers, channel members).
  • External (communities, government, pressure groups and media).
  • Target audience – The group of individuals at whom marketers direct their promotional or communication messages.

Marketing environment

The internal environment, the connected micro-environment and the external macro-environment.”

Marketing Communications and Integrated Approach

Although Integrated Marketing Communications requires a lot of effort it delivers many benefits. It can create a competitive advantage, boost sales and profits, while saving money, time and stress.

  • IMC wraps communications around customers and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process.
  • The organisation simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue and nurtures its relationship with customers.
  • This ‘Relationship Marketing’ cements a bond of loyalty with customers which can protect them from the inevitable onslaught of competition.
  • The ability to keep a customer for life is a powerful competitive advantage.

IMC also increases profits through increased effectiveness. At its most basic level, a unified message has more impact than a disjointed myriad of messages. In a busy world, a consistent, consolidated and crystal clear message has a better chance of cutting through the ‘noise’ of over five hundred commercial messages which bombard customers each and every day.

At another level, initial research suggests that images shared in advertising and direct mail boost both advertising awareness and mail shot responses. So IMC can boost sales by stretching messages across several communications tools to create more avenues for customers to become aware, aroused, and ultimately, to make a purchase

  • Carefully linked messages also help buyers by giving timely reminders, updated information
  • and special offers which, when presented in a planned sequence, help them move comfortably through the stages of their buying process…
  • and this reduces their ‘misery of choice’ in a complex and busy world.
  • IMC also makes messages more consistent and therefore more credible.
  • This reduces risk in the mind of the buyer which, in turn, shortens the search process and helps to dictate the outcome of brand comparisons.

Communications Process

Most of us communicate easily/naturally, so we may not realise how complicated the process is.

In an organisational context, we have to find the most effective way to transmit ideas from one
person’s head into another’s.

The author – Schramm (1955) suggests a simple three-component
model of communication:

  • Encoding – Designing the message to convey intended meaning.
  • Noise – Influences that affect the quality of the original encoded message.
  • Decoding – Interpreting the received message.

Noise

Noise – In marketing communications, the ‘noise’ that disturbs the reception of the message can be composed of general advertising ‘clutter’ or other factors, such as environmental distraction – just think about all that goes on in a typical home while the TV adverts are on.

Despite the best efforts of advertisers, viewers don’t pay the same attention to the commercial breaks that they do to the programmes themselves.

And the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many viewers these days record programmes to watch later, and ‘fast forward’ through ads whenever possible. The omnipresent mobile
phone is both an advertising medium and a form of noise: there’s too much happening on it for most users to bother trying to understand commercial messages arriving by text or email.

Encoding

Encoding – This is the process of developing a message in a language that the recipient will understand and engage with.

  • Faulty coding can cause problems: when messages are mixed, inconsistent, confused or hard to understand the recipient will just ‘not get it’.
  • An example is when advertisers try to adopt the language (and current slang) of teenagers in their advertising.
  • Teenage language evolves so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to keep up – and therefore very easy to get advertising wrong.

Decoding and the importance of feedback

The message extracted by the recipient of the (advertising) communication is sometimes called ‘take-out’. It’s what people actually hear (and hopefully understand and believe) as a result of the original transmitted message.

Feedback from people who see ads is vitally important because it means marketers can adjust the content where necessary.

Feedback in marketing can take many forms: even complaints can be useful, and of course, customers can ‘vote with their pockets’ (or their mouse/finger online).

Marketers should ensure that they can monitor feedback from all marketing activities, including communications, in order to measure them against the results they expected or planned for.

If the message has not been decoded as intended, it is probably the fault of the brand owner or its agency and it should be withdrawn and/or changed so that it is more effective.