Marketing communications

Marketing communications (MC) uses different marketing channels and tools in combination:[1] Marketing communication channels focuses on any way a business communicates a message to its desired market, or the market in general. A marketing communication tool can be anything from: advertising, personal selling, direct marketing, sponsorship, communication, promotion and public relations.[1]

MC are made up of the marketing mix which is made up of the 4P's: Price, Promotion, Place and Product, for a business selling goods, and made up of the 7P's: Price, Promotion, Place, Product, People, Physical evidence and Process, for a service based business.[2]


Marketing communications falls into various categories relating to marketing to the public, from advertising, promotions, sales, branding and online promotion. It is so spread out and iconic that it has become a favoured term amongst practitioners. It is a symbolic tool that helps organisations interact with their many stakeholders in the market, by promoting their goods or services to them. Whenever members of the public interact with an organisation, marketing communication has been used. This is a significant process where businesses use to gain success and knowledge on their brand. In order to gain success in marketing both the organisation and members of the public must be involved. Businesses cannot operate if they target every market to satisfy their consumer's satisfactions. By targeting audiences who appreciate the organisations marketing program will gain a successful branding. A target audience is a group of people that aimed at by the marketers, delivering them a message of their brand. The target audience will most likely be people who will react to their marketing communications in a positive way.

Marketing communications can fall in to the same meaning as advertising. Advertising is the most common marketing term that organisations and even members of the public understand and evaluate, it has come across people at least a number of times in their everyday lives. Advertising is only a small section of marketing communications and is not an alternative term to it. Promotion and marketing communications is difficult comprehend, therefore considering it as a term that can be similar within each other is more simple. The concept of the marketing communications mix which is a range of tools available to an organisations to deliver a clear and consistent message to their target audiences, thus impacting the businesses performance negatively or positively. It is also commonly called the promotional mix, Crosier (1990) states that all terms have the same meaning in the context of the 4ps. Marketing communications is very similar to marketing in general, similar to comparing advertising to marketing communications. When asking what marketing is, the marketing mix comes to mind and the most common way of describing it is by explaining the 4p's. Product, price, place and promotion. Price of a product or service can send a message to their target audience. For example, comparing a $10 bag to a $50 bag, the more expensive bag will most likely be a luxury item, more durable than the cheaper one. This is market information that can easily send out a message to all target audiences. The most fundamental part of explains what marketing is using the 4p's is that, it elaborates how promotion is crucial and a significant aspect of what marketing is all about.

Marketing communications and the marketing mix falls into the category of the marketing plan. The marketing plan is a specific document that outlines current marketing situations. This plan identifies key opportunities and threats, set objectives and develops an action plan to achieve marketing goals. Each section of the 4P's sets its own object, for instance, pricing objective might be to increase sales in a certain geographical market by pricing their own product or service lower than their competitors. This creates a significant change in the market because more people of the target market would aim to do business with your organisation than your competitors, because pricing is one of the most significant aspects of marketing that can change the whole market positively and or negatively. Marketing communications presents a marketing strategy to draw the attention of all target audiences. Sending a message about the organisations 4p's can excite their interests and can help create a successful business.

Marketing communications consists of five key factors, persuasion and information, objectives, contact points, stakeholders and marketing communication activities. Firstly all marketing communication's goal is to persuade their target audience to change their attitudes and behaviour towards the organisation. There are many ways to persuade the target audience. For instance, marketers can provide a valid reasoning and significant facts that can change consumer behaviour significantly. Listening and responding to any questions to the organisation can go a long way in the driving success of the organisation. From making the target audience feel special and heard of can instantly change their emotions and opinion of the organisation. Marketing communication can work without an objective. Generally creating brand awareness, delivering information, educating the market and an advanced positive image for the organisation can also persuade the target audience. Contact points must require managing and coordinating a marketing message. Contact points can range from stores where customers are able to physically experience the product and see it for themselves, customer calls where the hotline will be able to help all customers in need and advertisement through television, social media and others. Successful marketing requires that a message at every contact point can persuade any target audience. Stakeholders are anyone in the target market that can influence the purchase of the product or that can create success to the company. Competitors can be important stakeholders for an organisation; by two competitors working together can help protect their market shares. Finally, marketing communication activities can send out a message informally by explicitly marking communication programs or informally through the marketing mix. There are two key types of messages marketing communications can deliver, unplanned and planned messages. Planned messages are delivered through, advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling, point of purchase, packaging, specialties, sponsorships, licensing and customer service. Unplanned messages however are all about the company or brand sending out simplicity messages to consumers. Both types of messages are crucial as they bring a unified story to the market.

Marketing communication

Communication is one important aspect of the marketing mix.[3] Indeed, marketing communication is often the largest component of communication within a company, which may be to present company value, objectives or specific products and services to investors, customers or the general public. In the 21st century, communications objectives continue to lead towards more customized messages, targeting customer groups or individuals to create high responses and greater brand interaction.[3]

As business becomes increasingly global with greater access to Internet, mobile phones and social media, new challenges exist with communication professionals to inform people in particular foreign markets to facilitate business activity. Shifts in the global economy and access to new markets lead also to greater demands for product shipping and services delivered to customers in foreign markets. To be effective, communication strategies must converge with marketing objectives while also account for local languages, dialects and cultural norms.

Communications are including both external communication and internal communication.[3] External communication can be market research questionnaires, office website, guarantees, company annual report and the presentation for investors. Internal communication can be the marketing materials, price list, product catalogues, sales presentations and management communications. On the other hand, each market demands different types of communications. For example, industrial market demands a more personal communication but consumer market demand a non-personal communication.[3]

There are also 4 different fundamental types of communication.

One-to-many: this kind of communication is the most original communication. It is "generated from a single broadcast point and then available over airwaves or in mass print runs[3]". This type of communication is usually adapted to news distribution that does not specific not even interactive. Such as in an urgent notice play over airwave from broadcast in an industry, it is helpful for the general announcement.

Many-to-one: many-to-one is usually connected to the one-to-many communication.[3] For example, a reply button in your email box, a prepaid number bought from Spark. All the communication techniques proceeded to the public with bi-directional communication from mass communications.[3]

One-to-one: this is the most intensive and interactive communication at a one-to-one level.[3] There are so many examples like a sales presentation; a negotiation in the market or direct delivery is base on the one-to-one communication. Most of this communication is face to face. But in the development of Internet, email and online shopping are taking place the chance to face to face of people. Which is provided the chance to sellers and buyers talk more directly. Another important is instant message 'chat' channel like Wechat and Facebook, which are becoming extremely popular in business.[3]

Many-to-may: on the background of highly developed Internet, the many-to-many communication has been growing up such as online chat rooms, 'blogging' websites.[3] The many-to-many communication stands for the participants are able to exchange their ideas and experiences.

After all, each type of communication applies to different situation and is time-based.[3] The communications have the features of immediacy and longevity. Such as one-to-one is more focus on now but the many-to-may channels tend to less urgency and more reference.

Psychology of communication

One of the primary goals of a marketing communication is to persuade consumers, by either changing their perception of a brand, product or service, or persuading them to purchase (or feel motivated / tempted to purchase) a product or service. The "Elaboration Likelihood Model" is used to demonstrate how persuasion occurs. When a marketing communication message is sent out, first it must be acknowledged and attended by the receiver. By giving their attention to the marketing communication, consumers will begin to process and comprehend the message. There are two routes to persuasion: Central route and peripheral route. Central route processing is used in high involvement purchase decisions. These are infrequent, high risk purchases, usually involving large amounts of money and a significant amount of time (for example, purchasing a house or car). Because these purchase decisions are high risk, a large cognitive effort is expended in order to rationally select the most logical and valuable option available. In these marketing messages, information about the product or service itself is most valuable. Peripheral route processing is employed in low involvement purchase decisions. These are frequent, low risk purchases, generally of a low or medium cost in which choices are made more on affective (or emotion based) values rather than cognitive (or rational) values. Because of this, marketing messages will employ more storytelling and imagery, focusing on how the product or service makes one feel, and the associations it has, rather than the attributes and specifications it possesses.

Opinion Leaders:[4] Opinion leaders are consumers who have large influence over the purchasing behaviour of other consumers. These can take the form of peers or celebrities, and often represent a "desired state" in the eye of the influenced consumer. By following the consumption patterns of opinion leaders, consumers aspire to achieve a similar status or lifestyle, and project a similar image. Because of this, opinion leaders are powerful factors in marketing communications. Having opinion leaders endorse a brand can increase brand awareness and sales. Due to this, large companies pay highly influential celebrities to endorse their products.

Opinion Formers:[5] Opinion formers are consumers who are regarded by their peers as being highly knowledgeable and trustworthy. They are considered experts in selecting the highest quality products due to their extensive knowledge, and as such are able to influence the purchasing behaviour of other consumers despite lacking the celebrity status of an opinion leader.

Communication Barriers: Communication barriers are factors that hinder the effectiveness of a marketing communication. Major communication barriers are: Noise and clutter, consumer apathy, brand parity and weak creative ideas or strategies. Noise is an unrelated sensory stimulus that distracts a consumer from the marketing message (for example, people talking nearby making it hard to hear a radio advertisement). Clutter is the high number and concentration of advertisements presented to a consumer at any time. As attention cannot be divided, there is a limit to how much can be taken in and processed, which means that a strong marketing communication needs to stand out from the clutter and be heard above the noise. (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 11.) Consumer apathy is the tendency of a consumer to avoid marketing communications. This can be for a number of reasons. The consumer may not be interested, or consider themselves "in the market," and as such attempt to shut out the irrelevant marketing stimuli. This is known as selective attention. Alternatively, a consumer may be "in the market," yet not be aware of the brand or products existence or prevalence. Consumers tend to purchase familiar brands, and will not be inspired to investigate alternatives. One approach marketers use to overcome apathy is to create incentives, such as competitive pricing or loyalty rewards. (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 11.) Brand parity means a brand is not significantly different from its competition. Without a distinct value proposition, consumers do not develop brand preference or associations, and instead purchase purely based on price (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 12). This is not ideal, as effective marketing communication increases brand equity. One important objective of marketing communications is to develop a strong, unique brand identity that allows the brand to be positioned separate from its competition.

Marketing mix

Main article: Marketing mix

Marketing mix is the most important part of marketing strategy, which is "the framework to manage marketing and incorporate it within a business context[6]". Refer to the marketing strategy; it is to identify how the business achieves their marketing objective and the service they want to deliver to their customers. And the initial step to achieve the marketing strategy to identify the market target and build up plan that the business should implement.[6] Also the business has to make sure every step of achieving marketing target is running effectively or one step of failure will cause the bad influence to the whole business. After all, this is reason why the business needs marketing mix.

Communication process

Communication can be defined as process of using, word, sound or visual cues to supply information to one or more people.[7] A communication process is defined as information that is shared with the intent that the receiver understands the message that the business intended to send.[8] The communication process was once thought of as having the source of the message, which is then encoded, put through the chosen communication channel, which is then decoded by the recipient and then received.[9] Throughout the middle of the channel there is the potential for noise to distort the message being sent.[9] Once the receiver has the message they then give feedback to the original source, where they then find out whether the campaign has been successful or not.[9]

In present times with the prevalent use of technology, customers are seeking out information about brands, products and businesses prior to purchase.[10] This means that there is a need for an additional channel within the communication process, so it is a more accurate representation of the current business environment. Businesses are now having to take into consideration that both opinion leaders and opinion formers who have a great influence over today's society and their perceptions. So they have to be included into the communication process before the recipient of the message receives it.[11]

Source: The source is an individual or organization that has information to share. The source (or sender) creates and sends the information to another person or group of people. The source maybe an individual (e.g. a sales person or spokesperson) or a non-personal identity (e.g. a corporation or organization). The communication process begins with the source, marketers must carefully choose a source as it effects how the message will be perceived by the target audience.[12]

Encoding: This is transposing the intended meaning of the message with words, symbols or pictures to show a message. Encoding is the development of the message that contains the information the source hopes to convey. It is putting together the thoughts, ideas and information into a symbolic form that can be transmitted and understood by the receiver.[12]

Encoding the message is the second step in the communication process. The encoding process leads to development of a message that contains the information or meaning the source hopes to convey. Encoding is extremely important, it is a brain activity that takes effect when the receiver makes sense of a brand message or idea used to convey meaning: words, colour, pictures, signs, symbols or even music. The message may be verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, or symbolic (e.g. the sound of a brass band being redolent of simpler times or heritage). or it can often include 'cues' such as the Nike 'swoosh' which indicates success. Often things can get in the way of the "correct" encoding and the interpretation of the intended message (decoding). There are methods the sender can use to make sure the receiver interprets the message correctly, these methods include; channels, consumer insights, having similarities with the receiver and frame of reference (e.g. age, values, culture).[9] Finally, it is extremely important for the sender to get to know its receiver and this is accomplished through research for targeting strategy. These concepts help craft the intended message in the minds of the consumer.

Message: The message comes from the encoding process, it is the content, meaning or information the sources hopes to convey. The message can be in many forms such as verbal, non-verbal, oral, written or symbolic.[12]

Decoding: The receiver unravels the symbols to interpret what is being communicated. Transforming the sender's message back into thought. This is influenced greatly by the receiver's frame of reference (or realm of understanding) which involves their values, attitudes and state of mind when receiving the message. For the model to be effective the decoding by the receiver would match the encoding by the source, meaning they correctly understand the message that was sent.[12]

The third stage of the marketing communication process occurs when a channel or medium delivers the message. Generally, receivers are the consumers in the target market or audience who read, hear, and/or see the marketer's message and decode it. Decoding is the process of interpreting messages and relies on correct encoding and the ability of the receiver to deconstruct transmitted meaning. Decoding occurs when the message reaches one or more of the receiver's senses. Consumers both hear and see television ads, others consumers handle (touch) and read (see) an advertising offer (e.g. coupon). According to Belch & Belch this process is deeply influenced by the receiver's frame of reference or field of experience, which refers to the experiences, perceptions, attitudes, and values he or she brings to the communication situation.[9] For effective communication to occur, the message decoding process of the receiver must match the encoding of the sender. Over this entire means the receiver comprehends and correctly translates what the source is trying to communicate. Effective communication is more likely to emerge when there is some common ground between the two parties. The more familiarity the sender has about the receivers, the better the sender can understand their needs, commiserate with them, and over all communicate more effectively.

Opinion leaders and opinion formers

Opinion leaders are people who are either celebrities, or a peer that has the ability to influence someone else's opinion/perception ("Opinion Leaders", n.d.). You can receive the opinion leaders' thoughts or feeling towards the product/service through paid advertising, social media, blogs, or any other form of written media. These can be direct, or indirect influences. Opinion formers are people that have specialised knowledge about the area which corresponds with the product, service or business ("Opinion Formers", n.d.). This can be a doctor sponsoring a form of medication, or a personal trainer recommending a sports brand to the customer. This means that both opinion leaders and opinion formers have a large influence on the consumer and their perceived view of the business, product, or service provided.[13] If a brand is specialising in the sale and manufacturing of makeup products, the business would want to look at someone who is both known for their knowledge about makeup and also someone who they know is popular within that community, so that the message is as wide spread throughout their target market as possible.[13]

Receiver: The individual (s) that the source shares thoughts or information with. The receiver hears, sees or reads the message and decodes it.

Noise: Noise is any external interference during this communication process. Any external factors that creates unplanned distortion. This distortion can make it difficult for the receiver to interpret or assign meaning to a message as it was intended by the source. Examples of noise in the encoding of the message could be lack of radio or television signal. Noise can also occur when the sender and receivers fields of experience do not overlap, if there is no common ground between them, which may result in a misunderstanding in the meaning of the message.[12]

Throughout the communication process, the message is subject to irrelevant factors that can distort or interfere with its reception. Noise is the physical or Psychological fundamentals either from inside or outside of the process of communication. Noise acts as a barrier as it makes the message less accurate, less productive and unclear. It may even prevent the message from ever reaching the receiver. Physical noise is often triggered by badly made images or messages (e.g. poor print quality) or elements of distraction (e.g. consumer scrolling through TV advertisements). Psychological noise could be mixed meanings, poor credibility of source or the insignificance of the message to the consumer requirements. Not having a connection with the receiver and lacking in common ground usually cause this. This may result in unsuitable encoding of the message such as; using a sign, symbol, or word that is unfamiliar or has different meaning to the receiver (e.g. sending a message in foreign language that is not understood by the receiver). The more common ground there is between the sender and the receiver, the less likely it is for noise and barriers to interrupt a message.[9]

Response/Feedback: The receiver's reaction to the message provides feedback to the sender. This is the set of reactions after seeing, hearing or reading the message. The receiver's response is the feedback and lets the sender know how the message was decoded and received. A form of feedback in an interpersonal selling situation could be questions, comments or any reactions (such as expressions) about the message. In mass media an indication of how the marketing communications were perceived is the amount of sales after the message has been sent. There are many different ways such as attitude change, store visits and inquires that provide feedback in mass media. Feedback can help to improve the communication process and the success of future messages.[12]

The receiver's particular type of reactions after seeing, hearing, or reading a message is known as a response. Receivers' responses can range from either non noticeable actions or noticeable actions. Non noticeable responses can be storing their information in memory and noticeable responses are immediate action such as dialing the commercials number to order a product advertised on television. One of the main goals of communication is receiving appropriate receiver responses, feedback closes the loop in the communications flow and lets the sender monitor how the intended message is being decoded and received. To achieve this goal one can ask indirectly or directly for the response, or assist the receiver in giving the response.[14] Receiving feed back can be more difficult for parties that advertise through the channels of mass media, because advertisers are not in direct contact with their customers so other methods must be obtained to determine how their messages have been received. While the critical form of feedback happens through sales, it is often hard to show a direct relationship between advertising and purchase behavior. So marketers; visit stores, check coupon redemption, use reply cards and listen to customer inquiries to achieve feedback. Once a significant amount of feedback/response study has been gathered advertisers would then have enough information to determine reasons for success or failure in the communication process and from there they can make appropriate adjustments.


The channel is the method by which the communication travels from the source or sender to the receiver.[9] There are two types of channels, personal and non-personal. Personal channels of communication are direct and target individual groups. Personal communication channels are connected with two or more persons who communicate directly with each other face-to-face, person-to-person through telephone, email or fax. Social channels also fall under the category of personal communications. Friends, neighbors, associates, co-workers, or family members are all means of social channels.[14] Carrying a message without interpersonal contact between sender and receiver is known as non-personal channels of communication. Mass media or mass communications are examples of non-personal channels, since the message is sent to many individuals at one time. Non-personal channels of communication are made up out of two main types, the first being print. Print media includes newspapers, magazines, direct mail, and billboards. The second type is broadcast; broadcast media includes radio and television.[15]

This model is more effective when there is common ground between the senders and receivers so they can communicate effectively. Choosing the appropriate source helps develop the message and appeal to the targeted audience. The source will be more effective if they are relatable to the target audience. This realm of understanding is represented by the overlapping circles. The more knowledge the source has about who they are targeting, the better they can understand how the receiver may interpret or react to the message.[12]

The core model of communication has been criticized for its linearity – sender, message, receiver and its absence of structural perception.[16] Since then an adjusted model of communication has developed.

Adjusted model of communications

The adjusted model of communication was developed within a marketing context, when marketers saw that people were affected more by influential homophilous groups (family and friends) and heterophilous groups (outside the person's network) than mass media (Dahlen, 2010).

The adjusted model is different to the core model of communication because it incorporates opinion leaders also known as gate keepers. Opinion leaders are perceived to be of a higher social status, a socialite, and of high influence in their peer groups. Opinion leaders do not have the same authority as opinion formers. Opinion formers also known as change agents have formal influence over groups of people. They provide an expert opinion or recommendation in their profession. Both opinion leaders and opinion formers have influence over the opinions of others.

Opinion leaders add another link in the communication process, acting as a "meaning filter" for the receivers of the message (Dahlen, 2010). The message is sent from the sender and the opinion leaders share their opinions with the targeted audience.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC)

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a communication process that entails the planning, creation, integration, and implementation of diverse forms of marketing communications. IMC unifies and coordinates the organizations marketing communications to promote a consistent brand message.[17] Coordinating the brands communications makes the brand seem more trustworthy and sound as it is seen as a 'whole' rather than a mixture of different messages being sent out.[18] The IMC perspective looks at the 'big picture' in marketing, advertising and promotions.[12]

Traditional media

Traditional media include broadcast channels (television, radio and cinema), print (newspaper, magazine, books, directories) and public advertising such as billboards, posters and public transport. TV, radio and print remain the largest media to advertise in, accounting for approximately 70% of all media expenditure. These are known as traditional media as they have existed effectively for the longest. The effectiveness of traditional media is its ability to reach large numbers of people. For this reason, it is also referred to as "mass media".


Television has since its inception dominated the advertising media scene, due to its combination of visual and aural stimulation, allowing for greater attention grabbing and more effective transmission of messages than other forms of media. This makes it a strong choice for a marketer wishing to increase brand awareness. Most homes in developed countries have at least one television, which makes it an ideal choice for reaching consumers, however there are a few disadvantages: Television commercials suffer from being "zipped" and zapped": "Zipping" is the term given to fast forwarding commercial break sessions during the pre-recording of programs. Often viewers will record programs purely so they can be viewed without the commercial breaks. "Zapping" is the term given to the habit of many consumers to change channels during commercial breaks. This is also done to avoid watching advertisements. Using television advertisements is beneficial due to its wide reach and the degree to which content can be segmented according to the intended target market. Advertisements are carefully paired with time segments and / or linked with appropriate programming, known as "media vehicles". This helps to ensure the intended audience is being reached with the marketing message (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 118.).


Despite being the oldest form of media transmission still being used, marketing via radio remains a popular and effective choice due to its relatively lower cost and convenience (one may watch television ads in the comfort of their home only, while radio exposure can occur additionally during transit, at work, and during recreational activities such as shopping). Due to the lack of a visual aspect, radio advertising attempts to create imagery in the consumers mind. Radio advertising is also extremely effective at reinforcing messages encountered in other channels (such as television). (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 122.) A familiar jingle or voice associated with a brand enhances brand and ad awareness, ultimately increasing brand equity. This is an example of "Integrated Marketing Communications", in which multiple marketing channels are simultaneously utilized to increase the strength and reach of the marketing message. Like television, radio marketing benefits from the ability to select specific time slots and programmes (in this case in the form of radio stations and segments within).


Printed media is the most basic form of media advertising. It is the most challenging to create strong imagery with, due to its lack of sensory stimulation, but can be effective in efficient, clear information communication and message delivery. Where a consumer may miss a message in video or audio (perhaps a loud noise interrupts, or someone blocks their view) in print the message remains visible indefinitely. Aspects such as size, colour and style can be used to increase effectiveness relative to other print advertisements, which is important as despite being a basic media communication channel, print is the second largest medium after television (Ang, 2014. "Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications". Page 126.).

Traditionally, marketing communications practitioners focused on the creation and execution of printed marketing collateral. Traditional media, or as some refer to as old media, has been used within the marketing and advertising world for many years.[19] Traditional media encompasses conventional forms of advertising media, such as television, magazines, newspapers, radio, and direct mail and outdoor. For many decades, these forms of communication have been the main source for marketers to reach both consumers and other companies. In a world with no internet and the vast world of social media, roots of advertising and promotion lie within traditional media, where there is a more direct, physical way of advertising.

In traditional advertising and promotion in terms of media, it usually conveys of having a physical display or action to channel the sender's message. Advertising in the form of print is used by businesses in the form of billboards, magazines, newspapers and posters, to get their message across to the target audience. The effectiveness of print relates back to aspects of the marketing mix's 4 P's. Print advertisement is in physical form, the whereabouts of where u place the print will contribute to how effective it will reach the target audience. Businesses will usually place a billboard in areas where in can be easily seen and where the target audience will spend their daily activities. Newspaper, magazines and posters are smaller in size and can be found in numerous places allowing the general public availability to read them. Depending on the product or service that is being advertised, marketers may specify where majority of their prints may go to, such as advertisement of a new shampoo may be more common within salons. Television and radio use physical actions to advertise, which reaches the consumers senses of hearing or seeing or both. These forms of traditional media channel the message intended by visually and/or vocally communicating them to the consumer. Though traditional media is effective, over the last few years there have been more and more businesses utilizing new media to reach its target audiences.[19]

Technology advancements have created new and efficient ways for marketers to reach consumers, not just affecting modern media but also affecting the more traditional media. Traditional media is gradually losing effectiveness.[20] Traditional media is becoming an increasingly less powerful mean of communicating with consumers and this change is driven by two key factors, audience fragmentation and ability to choose commercial content. Television, radio, magazines, and newspapers are becoming more fragmented and reaching smaller and more selective audiences. The rapid growth of communication due to interactive media, particularly the internet have caused the changes in the use of communication through media, with businesses preferring to use modern media over more traditional media methods. Consumers no longer accept the faith they once had in conventional advertising placed in traditional media. Consumers cannot avoid new and innovative ways of communication.[19] The larger companies are realizing that to be able to survive in the 21st century, they must adapt to new modern ways of advertising. If they do not adapt, competitors in their respective industries will make it more difficult for their business to survive. Many marketers believe that traditional methods of advertising have become too expensive and is not cost-effective compared to modern media. Companies are looking to use lower-cost, more targeted means of communication such as direct mail, sales, promotions, marketing and sponsorships and the most common in modern times, the internet. The internet is an interactive medium that is becoming an essential part of the communication strategies. Traditional forms of marketing communications such as advertising are one way in nature, whereas new media allows marketers to perform a variety of functions. Interactive media such as internet, C-D-ROMS, kiosks and interactive television allow consumers to alter information and images given to them, make inquiries, respond to questions and make purchases. The transition of marketing communications from applying traditional media to modern media has significantly influenced the success of the communication process. Interactive media allows marketers to interact with the audience easier and more efficiently. It is a rapid procedure to communicate through interactive media to promote goods and services. Marketers can now channel their message to the target audience in a short span of time and a cost-efficient way. Advertising campaigns have the feature of adaptability with ease and innovations. It also allows marketing messages to go viral and response and feedback can occur at any time along the communication process, as it is an open and flexible method of channeling communication.[19]

Communication platforms

During the last decade communication platforms like Skype, Facebook or other types of medias have become extremly important means of communication. Although there are other methods of communications that aren't just related to social media, people can also be hugely influenced by their peers, this process is known as social mediation. Marketing Communication Platforms are a powerful capability for personalizing and expending marketing contents in an automated fashion based on the profile of the recipients.[15]

A platform by simplest definition is a raised floor or stage.[21] It functions as a similar principle in marketing communications, providing awareness and information about a specific brand or product.[22] Strategic selection of various communication platforms is known as a media strategy which aims to engage an audience in a meaningful conversation and, as a result, create a lasting relationship.[23] Modern technology has expanded the use of platforms and ways in which consumers and the brand can interact. As a result, the context of platforms and how they are defined has changed.[24] There are various platforms by which communication is transmitted,[25] and these can be categorised as paid, owned, earned and shared, formally named as the integrated communication triangle by Grönroos and Lindberg-Repo.[26] The model acknowledges that communication must be credible and trustworthy to be effective. Studies reveal many consumers look at review forums and ask friends or peers whom they trust for ratings on products before making a purchase decision.[24] Therefore, effective communication relies on an integrated approach of one dimensional and interactive platforms.[27]

Explicitly planned market content is communicated through non-personal communication platforms.[28] The brand is in control of the platform, message content, frequency and repetition of the communication message.[29] This is typically accomplished through traditional paid platforms, such as, print, electronic, outdoor and alternative media, that aims to target a mass segment of the target market.[28]

Print media includes newspapers and magazines, these publications are a highly customizable and vary in print size, font, positioning and colour combination. Newspapers commonly use coarse paper and tend to have poor reproduction quality, while magazines can enhance the appearance of a certain product due to the heavy weight gloss paper used which translates colour well and offers a long lasting quality and likeability.[25] Magazines function as a frame, a psychological device which manipulates perspective and judgement.[30] For example, Vogue, a leading paid circulation fashion magazine,[31] publishes advertising efforts alongside beautiful imagery and elegant photography, the association of the two communicates respectability and sophistication and promotes the creditability of the brands which appear in the same publication. Due to the high-quality reproduction, magazines tend to last longer and are often found in hair salons and waiting rooms. Consumers often cut out individual images which further prolongs the message and increases potential exposure. Although the relevance of the message may be lost during this extended time, brand awareness may still be raised.[25]

Magazines are often segmented by subject such as women's health, automotive or fashion and therefore effectively reach a particular target market while newspapers focus on geographical regions which tend to appeal to a broad representative population sample and, therefore, offer low impact in selectivity. Newspapers are often run on a weekly schedule offering up to date information and coverage of local events and businesses as a lower coast alternative. Such advertisements in smaller typeface and are black and white.[25]

Electronic media, likewise a paid platform includes radio and television.[25] Radio by definition is the broadcasting of sound programmes to the public and today can be live streamed through a broadband connection or digitally transmitted into people's cars or homes.[32] Fill et al.[25] acknowledges radio communication promotes "emotional consumer–centric associations" as each listener is forced to construct a visual representation of the words and sounds such as music in their minds. A common technique used by companies is known as imagery transfer, where a complementary visual television advertisement is used alongside a one-dimensional radio advertisement featuring a similar audio track to stimulate a visual association between the two.[33] Research suggests this sub-conscience relational thought process greatly benefits future brand recognition and awareness.[25]

Television and radio channel options have significantly increased in the last decade and are therefore a selective and deeply segmented communication platform. Furthermore, a brand can select which time of the day certain advertisements are to be played, for example, during rush hour. Both Television and radio commercials are often efficient to produce. While initial production costs of a television advertisement are high, it is likely to reach a mass audience and, therefore, maintains a low cost per viewer, making it an efficient communication platform.[25] Likewise, radio infomercials are often a simple script that is read out by the presenter. This is quick and does not require extensive lead times due to minimal production efforts.[32] The biggest downfall of electronic media is its function as background noise. For example, many listen to the radio while cooking and cleaning while others switch between television channels to avoid advertisements, this may limit the effectiveness of reach and frequency and therefore, message recall.[25]

Other aspects of noise decrease the effectiveness of message penetration, for example, most paid communication platforms, print and electronic media are filled with marketing and advertising messages and are subject to clutter, often forcing brands to compete for attention.[22] To eliminate noise brands often choose to include inserts such as samples and scent strips within magazines while newspapers utilise "call to action" inserts such as coupons which encourage consumers to visit or try a local service or good.[25]

Due to the rise in advertising clutter, there has been a push for non-traditional media such as guerrilla marketing.[34] Guerrilla Marketing is usually a low-cost way of generating buzz through creative or unexpected communication platforms.[35] It is often outdoors which has the potential to gain attention from a large sum of the audience, for example customising street infrastructure or creating an even such as a flash mob. Research rates guerrilla advertising as having a higher perceived value compared to other communication platforms, which tends to result in a positive consumer response.[34] An example of successful guerrilla marketing was created by Volkswagen (VW) in their promotional "driven by fun" campaign, where consumers could use VW "fast lane" slide instead of the escalator to get to the bottom of the stairs faster.[36]

Every point of contact is a form of communication and it is, therefore, necessary to consider touch points as a communication platform. Touch points are owned communication and can be either physical or a human interaction between a brand and the consumer which influence customer decision-making process during pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase.[37]

There are many ways in which a customer may interact with a business.[22] Interactions occur through direct customer service exchanges, a company website, the point of purchase environment and product packaging or performance.[37] These all contribute to consumer perceptions of a particular brand. For instance, the service-scape of a purchase touch point such as a retail store can influence the perception of quality and service through lighting and layout or other sensory touch points, for example smell.[22] Fast fashion retailers such as Topshop maintain a white store interior and exterior which is perceived as luxurious.[38] Likewise, the higher price point and packaging of Ferrero Rocher may communicate sophistication and better quality. Visual appearance can have a significant effect on purchase decision,[37] companies such as Coke a Cola and Pepsi provide a free fridge to distributors to control how products are displayed at the point of purchase.[22]

In contrast, United Airlines is an example of how poor utilisation of post-purchase customer service can have an adverse effect on company reputation.[23] While boarding a United Airlines flight, Dave Carroll saw baggage handlers on the tarmac damage his guitar "Taylor".[39] After failed attempts to solve the issue through customer service, Carroll uploaded a humorous YouTube video titled "United breaks guitars",[23] which has experienced significant viewership and currently holds over 15 million views.[40] Reportedly, United faced a significant drop in the stock market.[23]

Carroll's YouTube video is an example of the multiplier effect, and how consumer attributes are shared through user-generated content (UGC) networks and word of mouth communication.[23] Research shows customer are more likely to pass on negative experiences, and therefore, such interactive platforms of communication have a significant impact on purchase decisions and brand outlook.[29]

This links to the new trend in consumer behaviour and integration of marketing communications, where technological developments have enabled socially mediated communication. The dynamics of communication platforms has changed from one-way flow where companies were in control of the message to a continuum dialogue where businesses interact with consumers in a co-creative process.[29] As Andy Lark, Commonwealth Bank CMO states "the power has shifted, we are now entering a transparent age where there are no secrets".[41]

Traditional single step communication was business to consumer orientated, where users took a passive role in the process with little feedback.Further studies have shown consumers are more likely to find interpersonal communication from influential people like family and friends more credible than mass media[24] Such influential people are known as opinion leaders and formers, who maintain a high social standing within a given group or hold expert knowledge, for example, a doctor.[22] These further developments highlight the importance of opinion leaders as can be seen in the two-step linear model of communication purposed by Roger,[24] where opinion leaders function as intermediaries by interpreting and filtering information to their followers. These traditional models view paid media platforms as the primary source of information, however, this has changed due to technological developments in communication platforms which enable dialogue among consumers within a consumer-centric communication from which meaning is constructed.[24] This multi-dimensional non-linear flow of communication allows a many to many exchanges of information through platforms such as UGC. UGC includes all the ways in which people publish creative content publicly online through blogs, chats, forums, online platforms for product reviews and social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram,[29] this is known as earned and shared media.[23]

Nike is an example of how such earned and shared media has created co-creation due to a shift in the consumer relationship through customer empowerment. Nike ID is an online application that allows customers to design their shoe and therefore "Just do it online".[22] Therefore, interactive media is highly critical to integrated marketing communication as it may benefit organisations by engages with valuable customers and may encourage positive word of mouth communications.[29]

Studies show that market-generated media is still an important communication platform and information source.[29] Consumers tend to consider both market-generated and UGC when making a purchase decision,[24] particularly, for higher involvement product like vinyl albums.[42] However, the movement from traditional media to various forms of online and UGC marketing is a rising trend, and academics recognise that marketing communication is an open system and customer attributes are influenced by multiple aspects of business surroundings through various communication platforms[22] Ultimately positive brand encounters manifest brand supporters who contribute to positive earned and shared media, through product recommendations online and offline.[24]

Social mediation

According to Laszerfeld, Berelson and Gaudet, people tend to be more affected by influential homophilous groups (family and friends) and also heterophilous crowds (people that are outside of an individual's personal network) rather than by the mass media. This process which is known as social mediation, initiated the idea of opinion leaders and opinion formers. Opinion leaders and opinion formers are influential in shaping the opinions of others.[27] Opinion leaders are peers that can influence a message to an audience but they are not seen as an expert in their field. They may pick up their information from the media or may comment on blogs,[43] they are regularly perceived by their immediate peer group to embody the characteristics of an innovator or social light.[27] Opinion formers are people that are knowledgeable in their field. This may be derived from their professional position, formal influence, job status or qualification over groups.[43] Opinion leaders add another link in the communication chain process and act as meaning filter for the targeted audience.

The internet

The Internet features both non-personal as well as personal forms of communication. It has become one of the most dominant sources of information for most consumers. Belch & Belch (2012) explain that the internet is mostly a non personal form of communication as consumers are absorbing information provided online with no personal contact between the consumer and the organisations that are providing the information on their websites. However, as the internet continually develops, it is now progressively changing into a form of personal communication as consumers have the ability to interact with marketers online as well as communicate and share information with one another through the use of social media.[9]

Social media

Social commercials market share is rising, thanks to services like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. With the explosion of social media usage around the world, social media websites have become an important platform for businesses to engage with customers, prospects, employees, and applicants. To personally engage with existing and future customers, reinforce brand messaging, influence customer opinions, provide targeted offers, and service customers more efficiently, companies are beginning to use external social media platforms.[44]


Email marketing is directly marketing a commercial message to a group of people using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It usually involves using email to send ads, request business, or solicit sales or donations, and is meant to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness. Email marketing can be done to either sold lists or a current customer database. Broadly, the term is usually used to refer to sending email messages with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers, to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business, acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately, and adding advertisements to email messages sent by other companies to their customers.

In-product communication

Another channel for direct digital marketing is in-product communication (or in-product marketing), which delivers marketing content directly to a user's internet-connected device or software application. In-product marketing content is often very similar to that of email marketing campaigns, but the segmentation and delivery is more targeted. Because email has become a standard tool in the digital marketing toolkit, the email channel often is overloaded and overused, leading to much lower open rates, lower engagement rates, lower click-through rates (CTR), and lower conversion rates. The rise of internet-connected (IOT) devices is enabling a growing number of consumer products manufacturers to take advantage of this channel of marketing communications, to supplement other digital marketing channels.


The first era of branding came to the new world in 1541 when Cortez imported Spanish cattle stamped with his trademark brand of 3 crosses, this solved the issue of knowing who's cow belonged to who. Branding is an extremly important communication platform in the marketing communication process. If a company brand isn't effectively communicated customers could easily become confused and possibly give their attention to another organisation. Branding goes beyond having a logo, its how businesses communicate on behalf of their company, verbally and visually. A brand is a conversation, It is how people talk about your company when you are not in the room.[44] Consumers are constantly interacting and meeting with brands. This can be through television or other media advertisements such as event sponsorships, personal selling and product packaging. Brand exposure such as this is known as a brand touch point or brand contact whereby the organisation can try impressing its consumer. Without branding, consumers wouldn't be able to decipher between products and decide which one they like most. People may not be able to even tell the differences between some of the brands, they would have to try each brand several times before being able to judge which one was best. In order to help with purchase decisions, marketing communications try to create a distinct image for the brand. Brand associations are made to encourage linkages with places, personalities or even emotions which creates a sophisticated brand personality in the minds of the consumers. This shows how brand communications add value to products[27] and why branding is a crucial aspect to the communication platform.

Direct marketing

Direct marketing is defined as the process in which individual customers' responses and transactions are recorded.[45] Direct marketing has increased over the past decade and is an important aspect to Marketing Communications. Direct marketing's largest strength is that it is a communication tool that is designed to build the relationship between the customer and the brand.[46] A large part of this area is Customer Relationship marketing. Organisations use accounts of the customers to give specific experiences in order to satisfy their needs. It is the process of managing detailed information about the customer's touch points with the objective to maximize satisfaction and loyalty. This type of communication can be transmitted in person, by telephone, mail, email or website.[47] An important part of direct marketing is that it is the interaction between the organisation and the customer and is mostly a two-way communication. Direct marketing relies heavily on databases, which contain valuable information on the customers. Organisations should understand that databases could provide a competitive advantage and in turn increase profitability. Mistakes that organisations make are treating databases as an expense rather than an investment and not maintaining or updating them sufficiently.[47]

Direct mail

This form of direct marketing is usually a letter, catalogue, or sample. These items are sent through post, e-mail, fax, and courier. This communication indicates that the recipient has shown interest in or has previously purchased from the organisation. Advantages of direct mail are personalisation, careful targeting, creativity and flexibility. Email is low-cost, but can be lost through spam and junk email filters. Direct mail is heavily dependent on databases that should be kept up to date.[47]


Telemarketing is the type of marketing communication transmitted through telephone. There are 2 types of telemarketing: Outbound and Inbound.[47] Outbound telemarketing is used by organisations to reach out to potential customers, generate sales, make appointments with salespeople and introduce new products. Inbound telemarketing is where people call the organisation to complain or inquire about products. Both outbound and inbound can be used as a customer service strategy to boost sales and receive suggestions for improvement. Advantages of telemarketing are that it allows targeted communications, it is a flexible and direct interaction between the organisation and the customer, it can accompany the personal selling platform well and it is cost effective per contact compared to personal selling. A disadvantage is that call centres are usually used to handle outbound and inbound telemarketing, which needs to be implemented, managed and financed.[47]

Mail order

Mail order as a form of direct marketing is a catalogue of products that customers can order to receive in the mail. This form of direct marketing dates back over 100 years. Home shopping, online shopping and teleshopping now accompany it. With current technology mail order has improved. Now there can be a larger range in catalogue, delivery is faster, and complaints are dealt with professionally. Advantages of mail order are they exert less pressure to the customer than telemarketing and sales are easy to manage, however costly infrastructure is required in maintaining the back-end.[47]

Direct-response advertising

Direct-response advertising is a message transmitted through traditional media communications that requires the reader, viewer, listener or customer to respond directly to the organisation.[47] The audience may respond to receive more information or to purchase a product. A common example of direct response advertising is in television "home shopping". Viewers are told to purchase the product right away to receive a particular deal or discount. Disadvantages are that focus can be lost because of the medium of communication and the targeting can be less narrow compared to direct mail. Organisation's messages can get cluttered and crowded. By using radio and magazine advertising organisations are able to narrow in on their target audience.[47]


With the introduction of new technology, new media opportunities have opened for organisations to have greater impact with their marketing communications. E-communications are the types of new electronic media. Media included are: the Internet, the World Wide Web (www.), Cellular technology and SMS, touch-screen kiosks, CD and DVD technology and Smart cards.[47]

The Internet

The Internet allows many multimedia documents to be shared among its users. In 2003 approximately 30 million websites have been registered worldwide and 650 million were connected to the Internet.[48] The Internet as a marketing tool can be used to reach customers directly, inform customers, create brand loyalty, build relationships and altogether be used as a marketing communications platform. Online advertising can be used to build brand attitudes, it includes techniques such as: graphic images as website banners, pop-up advertisements, homepage restyling and anchor deals (co-operation between two organisations).[47]

Cellular marketing

Cellular marketing uses audience's mobile phone and SMS to promote a product or brand. Advantages are that there are high levels of flexibility and it can be easily integrated through computer systems using the Internet to send mass text messages. Using databases this platform of marketing communications allows organisations to directly target customers and remember important information such as their name. Uses for sending mass SMS messages to customers could be reminding them to renew magazine subscriptions, giving exclusive product discounts, or building brand reputation through competitions or sweepstakes. When using customer's personal information permission must be granted.[47]

CD/DVD technology

CD and DVD can be used as part of e-communications. Entire marketing presentations, catalogues, brochures and price lists can be stored on a CD. CDs are small and simple to hand out to target audiences and most modern computers have CD drive readers, however most of the aforementioned information can be presented on a website or email.[47]


Marketing communications is focused on the product/service as opposed to corporate communications where the focus of communications work is the company/enterprise itself. Marketing communications is primarily concerned with demand generation and product/service positioning[49] while corporate communications deal with issue management, mergers and acquisitions, litigation, etc.

See also

See also


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