What is Marketing communications?

In the traditional manner, the communication between two humans involves a simple process which is as follows.

Sender β€”> Encoding β€”> Message β€”> Decoding β€”> Receiver

Like the above human model, Marketing communications too involves a communication message being sent from the Sender (which can be a company, product or a brand) to a receiver (who can be an audience, your target group, stakeholders or anyone whom you want to target your message)

Sender and Receiver – In marketing communications, there are two main entities β€œSender” and β€œReceiver”. The sender may be the company wanting to target the consumer group. The receiver is the consumer himself. There are several features which you need to know about the sender and receiver before the communication process begins, like their demographics, financial power and their compatibility. If a sender is a sports shoes maker, but the message is received by 60 years old customers, then the marketing communications may fail. The sender needs to know beforehand who the receiver of the message is going to be. This is why the process of segmentation targeting and positioning is done before marketing communications begins.

Encoding –  The message needs to be bundled in the right format for the sender to send the appropriate message to the receiver. This is known as encoding. In marketing communications, this is where advertising agencies play an important role. Depending on the choice of the sender, the creative ad agencies encode the message in the proper format. The format depends on the type of media vehicle being used to deliver the communication message. Thus, you will find that a radio message, a TV message or a print message are encoded differently as all of them have their own pros and cons. Whatever media vehicle / message format you may use, the focus message needs to be the same.

Message decisions –  During marketing communications, there are various ways in which the message can be sent to the end customers. Television and print is known to have the highest retention and hence advertisers use them the most. Other then these 2, there is radio marketing, online marketing, out of home media, banner advertising, so on and so forth. Any of these media vehicles can carry your message. The important point here is that the message should reach to as large a target audience as possible. In the sales funnel, the more prospects you have the more would be the conversion rate. Thus the objective of a message is to reach as many prospects as possible. A proper message can immediately connect you with your target group, build a better brand positioning, and thereby give an immediate boost to your organization. Marketing communications messages can be of various types. Some of the normally used ones are

– Introducing a new product
– Creating awareness
– Building brand image
– Sales promotion offers
– Customer retention

A marketing message therefore needs to be altered on the basis of these three fundamental factors

a) Media vehicle to be used

b) What is the objective of the message

c) Which is the target group

Decoding –  Decoding a message is not in the hands of the sender. It is instead done by the receiver. All the sender can do is encode the message as best as he can and ensure that it reaches the receiver. The receiver than decodes the message.

For example –  If i show you a shoe in muddy water, some of you might not be interested in the image, some of you might think this is an advertising for the shoe, and some of you might get the message that i am trying to show a shoe which is water proof and easy to clean. Thus, if i am unable to get the message across to most of my audiences, than i fail as a marketer. I need to ensure that decoding of the message is as easy as possible for the receiver. This is the essence of Marketing communications. This is the reason why agencies such as O&M, Lowe lintas etc get such a high fee. Because their messages can be decoded easily by the end user and by the masses.

Receiver –  The receiver is the one making the decision after decoding the message. In other words, the receiver is your end customer / prospect. Thus the receiver is a very important entity in the marketing communications process. Ideally, the receiver should act on the message he has received. Thus if your message was of a sales promotion, your receiver will go ahead and purchase the product. However, as in any situation, there are different variants of receivers. Some will completely ignore the message, some will use it for reference later and others will act on it.

To make sure that the receiver acts on the message, integrated marketing communications is used. The same message is sent in different formats through various media vehicles. The receiver receives the same message in differently encoded format and decodes it. This is why nowadays advertising frequency plays an important role in converting prospects to customers. As FMCG companies have the maximum consumer interactions, they are known to use integrated marketing communications in the best manner.

Feedback –  Nowadays, another factor which has been added to the marketing communications model is the feedback parameter. This is because taking feedback is gaining importance with the noise that happens due to too many products being advertised. Thus after an ad campaign for increasing awareness of a product, the company can take market feedback to know what percentage of target customers are aware of the new product. This feedback will tell the company whether its advertising strategy was right or wrong.

In the end, you have to understand that marketing communications is not just an interaction between the company and the end customer. Rather it involves the presence of numerous entities. Marketing communications is an art in itself. A significant amount of an organizations resources are used to ensure that the right message reaches the end customers and the end customer acts in a desired manner.

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