Marketing Communications

Marketing Communications and the Process of Exchange
The exchange process is developed and managed by researching consumer/stakeholder needs, identifying, selecting and targeting particular groups of
consumers/stakeholders who share similar discriminatory characteristics, including
needs and wants, and developing an offering that satisfies the identified needs at an
acceptable price, and is made available through particular sets of distribution
channels. The next task is to make the target audience aware of the existence of the
offering. Where competition or other impediments to positive consumer
action exist, such as lack of motivation or conviction, a promotional programme is developed and used to communicate with the targeted group.
Collectively, these activities constitute the marketing mix – the 4Ps, as McCarthy
(1960) originally referred to them – and the basic task of marketing is to combine
these 4Ps into a marketing programme to facilitate the exchange process. The use of
the 4Ps approach has been criticised as limiting the scope of the marketing manager.
McCarthy’s assumption was that the tools of the marketing mix allow adaptation to
the uncontrollable external environment. It is now seen that the external environment can be influenced and managed strategically, and the rise and influence of the
service sector is not easily accommodated within the original 4Ps. To accommodate
these factors, additional Ps, such as Processes, Political Power and People, have
been suggested. A marketing mix of 20Ps has even been proposed by some, but the
essence of the mix remains the same, and this deterministic approach has raised
concerns and doubts about its usefulness in a marketing environment that is very
different from that in which the 4Ps were conceived.
Promotion is therefore one of the elements of the marketing mix, and is responsible for the communication of the marketing offer to the target market. Certainly
there is implicit and important communication through the other elements of the
marketing mix (through a high price, for example, symbolic of high quality), but it is
the task of a planned and integrated set of communication activities to communicate
effectively with each of an organisation’s stakeholder groups. Marketing communications are sometimes perceived as dealing only with communications that are
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external to the organisation, but good communications with internal stakeholders, such as employees, are also vital if successful favourable images, perceptions
and attitudes are to be established in the long term.

Role of Marketing Communications
From the above it is possible to deduce that marketing communications are about
the promotion of both the organisation and its offerings. Marketing communications recognise the increasing role that the organisation plays in the marketing
process, and the impact that organisational factors can have on the minds of
audiences. As the structure, composition and sheer number of offerings in
some markets proliferate, so differences between products diminish, to the
extent that it has become much more difficult to differentiate between products.
This results in a decrease in the number of available and viable positioning opportunities. One way to resolve this problem is to use the parent organisation as an
umbrella, to provide greater support and leadership in the promotion of any
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offerings – hence the earlier reference to the emerging strength of corporate
A view that is becoming increasingly popular is that corporate strategy should be
supported by the organisation’s key stakeholders if the strategy is to be successful.
Strategy must be communicated in such a way that the messages are consistent through time, and are targeted accurately at appropriate stakeholder
audiences. Each organisation must constantly guard against the transmission of
confusing messages, whether this be through the way in which the telephone is
answered, the navigability of a website, the impact of sales literature, or the way
salespersons approach prospective clients.
Many organisations recognise the usefulness and importance of good public
relations. This is because of the high credibility attached to the messages received
and the relatively low operational costs. As a result, the use of corporate advertising
has grown.
Finally, marketing communications recognise the development of channel or
trade marketing. Many organisations have moved away from the traditional control
of a brand manager to a system that focuses upon the needs of distributors and
intermediaries in the channel. The organisations in the channel work together to
satisfy their individual and collective objectives. The degree of conflict and cooperation in the channel network depends upon a number of factors, but some of the
most important are the form and quality of the communications between member
organisations. This means that marketing communications must address the
specific communication needs of members of the distribution network and of
those other stakeholders who impact on or who influence the performance of
the network. Indeed, marketing communications recognise the need to contribute
to the communications in the channel network, to support and sustain the web of
For example, many organisations in the airline industry have shifted their attention to the needs of the travel trade, customers and competitors. United Airlines,
British Airways, KLM, Qantas and other airlines have changed their approach,
attitude and investment priorities so that channel partnerships and alliances are of
particular priority. Now there is a clear emphasis on working with their partners and
their competitors (e.g. British Airways and KLM), and this entails agreement,
collaboration and joint promotional activity in order that all participants achieve
their objectives.