Marketing communications is a collection of interactions between a brand and society. Basically, everything we say on behalf of a brand/company to people is marketing communication: a sign, a TV commercial, a press release, an article in a magazine, a post on Instagram. You need to communicate appropriately and effectively, based on the market goals and objectives of the company. What are the goals of marketing communications, how the 4 main communication tools work from advertising to sales, and how to build the entire communication chain through marketing channels – in this article.
What is marketing communications?
The concept of marketing communications is quite broad: it includes public relations, advertising, sales, and sales promotion tools, sponsorship. At the same time, marketing communications are part of the marketing mix along with the price, place of sale, and the product itself.
Communication in marketing is both the message delivery channels, the message itself, and the reaction of the target audience (feedback). Communication is when we came up with a product slogan, shot a video with this slogan, posted the video on a suitable channel (TV or Youtube), got contacts with the audience, and recorded feedback.
Marketing communications work and develop cyclically. The first stage: analysis – what is happening with the product now (for example, it has just appeared on the market). The second stage is setting the communication problem: what do we want to get in the future (to increase the audience’s awareness of the new product). The third stage – we draw up a strategy on how we will achieve our goal (we will place advertisements on TV and in shopping centers, attract bloggers, and so on). The fourth stage is an assessment of the effectiveness of communication: did you choose the right message and channels, how much you managed to reach the right audience (did people know about the product).
Then the cycle repeats. The goals may change: we introduced customers to a new product, now we are increasing its sales. We change channels, messages, and tools depending on the tasks.
Elements of marketing communications
There are a number of terms that are used when talking about marketing communications. Let’s list them so that further reasoning is clearer.
Source – brand, company, or person starting the communication process.
The message, information – the essence of what the source wants to convey to the audience.
Addressee – people to whom the communication is addressed, to whom the source wants to convey its message.
Channel is a way of delivering information to the addressee ( indoor and outdoor advertising, media, and so on).
Information (message) encoding is the form in which the message will be delivered to the addressee. The form is selected according to the channel: for radio, the message is encoded into a radio clip, for social networks in a post or story, and the like.
Decoding – feedback from addressees: how the target audience responded to the communication with deeds and words. Sales increased, product awareness increased, and a dialogue with consumers began.
Purposes and functions of marketing communications
Why do you need a variety of marketing communications tools? The functionality includes informing, expressing, and “ doing good ” – that is, you need to regularly communicate something, evoke emotions and make the life of customers better.
The main purpose of marketing communications is to promote sales, scientifically speaking, to stimulate the sale of goods or services. Sometimes you need to create demand first, especially when the product is new.
Increasing awareness, creating consumer motivation to buy, maintaining long-term relationships with customers, creating a brand and product image, regularly reminding oneself – all these are additional tasks of marketing communications.
Consistently and systematically, marketing communications from the image of a product or brand by “ sending ” messages to customers and collecting feedback. Nike, Coca-Cola, Mercedes – these great brands have been communicating with the audience for decades, instilling in them a love for the brand’s philosophy and generating a steady demand. The results are evident.
Marketing communications work at all stages of the transaction with the buyer:
- before buying, they introduce them to the product, form a need (go jogging at Nike);
- help you make a choice at the time of purchase (buy Nike at a discount today);
- after purchase, contribute to the correct and comfortable use of the product (work with Nike online trainers);
- stimulate further demand (buy yourself some more Nike);
- build brand loyalty (buy only Nike).
In general, the task of marketing communications is to convey the attractiveness of a brand/product to the maximum number of representatives of the target audience.
Communication is part of a company’s great marketing strategy. Therefore, the message, channels, addressees, coding – everything is selected without interruption from global business goals and other elements of the 4P marketing complex (product, price, place, promotion), where promotion is promotion, that is, marketing communications.
Types of marketing communications
There are several types of marketing communications, but in reality, they are difficult and do not need to be separated. Everything works organically, in conjunction. PR is inseparable from branding, and advertising is inseparable from sales.
When a new product is being developed, when it develops, when it enters new markets, branding is needed. The task of this type of marketing communication is to form an attractive image of a product, to evoke positive associations in the audience that do not evoke similar products. Branding is a long process (remember Nike).
The most famous type of marketing communication. Advertising informs about the product, praises its qualities, helps to make choices, and stimulates demand.
Advertising works on paid channels (indoor and outdoor, TV, radio, Internet, media) and requires advertising budgets.
PR (public relations)
But PR is shareware. Posting news, press releases, giving an interview, speaking at a conference – all this can be done not for money, but for mutual benefit. The media get information and the speaker, and the company gets a mention, audience coverage.
PR is engaged in the creation and strengthening of the image in the public space. There is PR of different ” colors ” :
- white – honestly speaking on our behalf;
- gray – the source of information is hidden, the message can work against the person or for her benefit;
- black – spreading compromising evidence against a competitor, slandering rumors, disinformation;
- yellow – muddying or exposing scandalous details of the life of celebrities in the spirit of tabloids
- green – PR with increased social responsibility.
Publicity is the formation of an image through publications. Usually, experts and public figures are promoted through articles, interviews, speeches. Formally, publicity is not an advertisement because no one pays anyone. The media take useful and interesting publications, and companies organize press tours, press conferences, and presentations for journalists.
Sponsoring also works for brand image. A sponsor gives money to organize an event, work on a project, and achieve a goal. There are also information sponsors who provide not financial, but other capacities – their site, their audience, and so on. In exchange for help, the sponsor is given the opportunity to tell about themselves through branding of the event space, advertising integrations.
Sponsorship is an investment in the image, so don’t confuse sponsoring with charity, which is usually carried out anonymously or at least not publicly.
Moving on to the ” venal ” types of marketing communications. Direct marketing speaks directly to customers through letters, phone calls, meetings, and communication at exhibitions. When a company communicates with a consumer right here and now for the purpose of selling, getting other feedback, or getting the client into the funnel (to begin with).
Sales promotion is all familiar promotions, contests, bonuses ” for a friend “, discount coupons, merchandising, promo events, tastings, and test drives, as well as posting typical or creative POS materials. Anything that helps to draw people’s attention and fuel buying activity. Communication is with the goal of selling more right now.
Loyalty programs stimulate demand in a slightly different way. Bonus points, cumulative discounts, membership in customer clubs – all these things help to build long-term communication with customers.
Loyalty programs work in a complex manner, shaping future demand and expanding the range of goods and services that are potentially interesting to the buyer. Let’s say a client has a haircut at our barbershop once a month. With his loyalty card, he has accumulated discount points for beard camouflage. Having tried a new service on favorable terms, the client can start ordering it constantly.
Selling a seller to a buyer literally at a store shelf is also a type of marketing communication. See for yourself: the seller advertises the product, informs about its merits, processes feedback, and persuades the buyer to join the loyalty program.
Presentation is a special case of direct sale, when a demonstration is held for the audience, it does not matter, a new iPhone, a car, herbal medicine, or a miracle vacuum cleaner.
Marketing communications as a system
All types of communication are tied into a single system that works consistently and cyclically. First, we develop a new product. We determine the price of the product. We organize its logistics – we find a place where the product will be sold. And we start promotion using different types of marketing communications: advertising, PR, sales promotion, and personal sales at points of sale.
For each type of communication, different tools are used: from product packaging to service maintenance (yes, this is also marketing communication, because there is a buyer and upsells).
- Outdoor: billboards, streamers, signs.
- Internal: lightboxes, POS materials, video, and audio.
- Printed: articles, announcements.
- TV and radio clips.
- Internet: SEO, SMM, context and targeting, banners, mailings, content marketing.
- Media publications, video and audio interviews, online press releases, social media, mailing, SMO.
- Press tours, press conferences, briefings, presentations.
- Exhibitions, conferences, seminars, round tables.
- Sponsorship and charity.
- Contests, awards, festivals.
Sales promotion tools
- Discounts, including seasonal and holiday.
- Special offers and promotions.
- Drawings, lotteries, contests.
- Sampling, test drives, test periods of product use.
- Coupons, bonuses, cashback, discount cards, points.
- Upsells, down sells, and cross-sells.
Direct selling tools
- Sales scripts.
- Commercial offers.
- Promotional materials.
- Warranties and service.
How to choose marketing communications channels
When the message is ready, you need to find the most convenient channel for delivering information to the target audience. In principle, everything comes from the target audience: if she watches TV shows for housewives, then you need to make a commercial for a channel for housewives.
If the target audience loves YouTuber X, then you need to integrate with him. If a product needs expert advice, conferences are held with the participation of such people, they are given product samples for evaluation, and so on.
The second important point for choosing a channel is budget. For the same TV commercial, you may simply not have enough money. Then we are looking for where else we can communicate with the right audience and encode the message in an acceptable format. Oftentimes, budget constraints give rise to creative solutions.
Stages of marketing communications development
How are marketing communications created? When a decision is made to hook a certain group of people, you need to take a marketing ” microscope ” and carefully consider the representatives of the target audience. At the first stage, it is important to understand what is important for the group, what they expect from the product, what “ job ” they are hiring. Based on the obtained statistics and strategic insights, a communication message is created.
Having studied the target audience, we understand where to find it. What sites does she visit, what shops, cafes, and parks she visits, who is the opinion leader for her? We choose a marketing communication channel so as to deliver the message to the audience as efficiently as possible in terms of coverage and budgets. According to the channel, the message is given a form: a neon sign in the shopping center, native integration into Instagram, an inscription on the fence, an article in the magazine “The stars decided everything for us. “
The supposed effectiveness of communication is preliminarily analyzed. After the campaign, various indicators are analyzed: how many people saw the message, which channel and specific placement gave the maximum coverage, maximum feedback, how the communication affected the company’s figures, including direct sales. It is worth considering that many types of marketing communications, the same PR, have a delayed effect.
How to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing communications
To assess the effectiveness of communications, a traditional set of marketing and sociological methods is used: qualitative and quantitative.
The qualitative assessment is based on market research interpretations. These are focus groups (especially for a new product), in-depth interviews, content analysis, consumer panels, expert judgments.
Quantitative methods involve marketing research on a relatively large, representative sample. These are telephone, written, and Internet surveys. The received data is processed by professional programs.
Examples of marketing communications
The plant produces printing presses. Clients are printing houses. Marketing communications such as advertising, sales promotion, and direct sales at conferences and printing exhibitions are used. Communication channels: company website, contextual advertising, publications and advertising placements in specialized media, mailing to clients, telephone calls.
Barbershop makes haircuts and styling. For promotion, such channels as social networks, advertising on Youtube, posts, and stories from influencers, leaflets in the area of the salon are used. They also work with regular customers through the application.
The company wants to sell the premises. The communication channel is a local newspaper. The addressee is other local companies. The company advertises. The premises are being bought.
Korean cosmetics brand enters a new market. The brand makes integrations through the social media channel – it goes to “ Instagram beauty bloggers ” and to TikTok. Instabloggers tell subscribers about the products and advertise a sales promotion campaign from the brand. On TikTok, the brand runs the “ I am an idol ” challenge, which “ goes viral ” and increases brand awareness in a new market.
The correct choice of message, consistency of this message (one message in all communications), a good understanding of the needs of the target audience based on feedback, and excellent knowledge of channels and tools are important for the success of marketing communications. But there is always room for experimentation because this is marketing, right? Effective marketing communications for you.