Communications strategy – Principles of Marketing

promotion mix (marketing communication mix)

Communications strategy

The promotion mix (marketing communication mix) is the specific blend of promotion tools that the company uses to persuasively communicate customer value and build customer relationships.

It consists of five major promotion tools:

  1. Advertising: any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.
  2. Sales promotion: short-term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of a product or a service.
  3. Personal selling: personal representation by the firm’s sales force for the purpose of making sales and building customer relationships.
  4. Public relations: building good relations with the company’s various public by obtaining favourable publicity: building up a good corporate image and handling or heading off unfavourable rumours, stories and events.
  5. Direct marketing: direct connections with carefully targeted individual consumers to both obtain an immediate response and cultivate lasting customer relationships.

Several factors are changing today’s marketing communication. First, consumers are changing: they are better informed and more empowered. Also, marketing strategies are shifting away from traditional mass marketing. Finally, communications technology is changing the way companies and customers communicate with each other. These changes come together in a need for integrated marketing communications (IMC) which involves carefully integrating and coordinating the company’s many communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message about an organisation and its products. IMC recognizes all touchpoints where the company and customers meet and ties together all messages.

In order to develop marketing communications, an understanding of the communication process is required. A message is send from a sender to a receiver via media, but can be interrupted by noise or encoding/decoding differences.

There are different steps necessary in developing effective marketing communication.

  1. Identifying the target audience.
  2. Determining the communication objectives. The target audience can be in any stage of the buyer-readiness stages. The buyer-readiness stages are the stages consumers normally pass through on their way to a purchase, including awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, conviction and finally the actual purchase. A goal of a marketer is to move target customers through the buying process.
  3. Designing the message. The message should get attention, hold interest, arouse desire and obtain action. Attention, interest, desire and action come together as the AIDA model. The marketer determines the content of the message. Rational appeals relate to the audience self-interest and their benefits. Emotional appeals attempt to stir up emotions that can motivate purchase. Marketers must also decide the message structure and the format.
  4. Choosing the channels of communication. There are two broad categories. Personal communication channels are channels through which two or more people communicate directly with each other, including face to face, on the phone, via e-mail or even through Internet chat. Personal communication channels include word-of-mouth influence: personal communications about a product between target buyers and neighbours, friends, family members and associates. Buzz marketing is cultivating opinion leaders and getting them to spread information about a product or a service to others in their communities.  Non-personal communication channels are media that carry messages without personal contact or feedback, including major media, atmospheres and events. Atmospheres are designed environments that create the buyer’s leanings toward buying a product.
  5. Selecting the message source. Highly credible sources are more persuasive.
  6. Collecting feedback. The marketer must research the effect on the target audience.

When setting the total promotion budget, there are four common methods that can be used.

  1. Affordable method: setting the promotion budget at the level management thinks the company can afford.
  2. Percentageof-sales method: setting the promotion budget at a certain percentage of current or forecasted sales or as a percentage of the unit sales prices.
  3. Competitiveparity method: setting the promotion budget to match competitor’s outlays.
  4. Objectiveand-task method: developing the promotion budget by (1) defining specific promotion objectives, (2) determining the tasks needed to achieve these objectives and (3) estimating the cost of performing these tasks. The sum of these costs is the proposed promotion budget.

The promotion mix

The promotion mix consists of five tools. Advertising can reach masses of geographically dispersed buyers at a low cost, but it cannot be as persuasive as people. Personal selling is the most effective in certain stages of the buying process, but is quite costly. Sales promotion attracts the customer’s attention, but the effect is often short lived. Public relations (PR) is believable but is often underused. Direct marketing is less public and delivered to a certain person.

Marketers can choose from two basic promotion mix strategies. A push strategy calls for using the sales force and trade promotion to push a product through channels. A producer promotes a particular product to channel members, who in turn promote it to final consumers. A pull strategy calls for spending a lot on consumer advertising and promotion to induce final consumers to buy a particular product, creating a demand vacuum that “pulls” a product through the channel.

Having set the promotion budget and mix, the next task is to integrate into a promotion mix. There are legal and ethical issues to consider when thinking about marketing communications. Marketers must avoid false or deceptive advertising and must follow the rules of fair competition.

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