Marketing Theories – The Communications Mix
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The communications mix involves all the tools you use to communicate with your customers or potential customers. This could be through advertising, social media, product packaging, direct marketing, websites, events, exhibitions – the list goes on!
Successful campaigns consider all elements of the communications mix. To see even better results, you must effectively use all areas to create an integrated multi-channel or omni-channel campaign.
What’s the difference between the marketing communications mix and the marketing mix?
They may both include mix in their names, and they do link together – but they are actually very different tools.
On one hand, the Marketing Mix is used to shape brand strategies through factors unique to each business (the 7 Ps – product, price, promotion, place, physical evidence, people and process).
On the other hand, the Communications Mix defines the ways you communicate with your customers, i.e. the tools you use.
Marketing communications tools
The promotional mix is made up of five elements, shown below:
1. Advertising (TV, radio, press, PPC)
Advertising covers all avenues where a business pays for their message to be broadcast.
In 1922, the first radio advertisement was aired in New York, promoting apartments in Jackson Heights. Video came next, but luckily, it didn’t quite kill the radio star. Instead, it became its own highly effective advertising tool, working harmoniously alongside radio.
Television has mostly been confined to brands with deep pockets. However, with the digital age came more affordable online tools such as PPC and social media advertising.
Successful advertising campaigns can be emotive, creative, eye-catching, catchy, musical, or even intentionally annoying (anything to grab attention!)
2. Direct marketing & digital marketing (email, social media, gamification, etc)
The emergence of digital didn’t just bring social media and online shopping. It also gave us a whole new way to do marketing. This way is significantly cheaper; and if done correctly can be even more effective than broadcasting to the masses through TV or radio.
One of the major benefits of direct marketing is its targeted approach. So, if you’ve done the best and most accurate market research on your customers, you’ll know exactly who to target. It’s also attractive to marketers because its results can be directly measured.
3. Public relations (PR)
Public relations turns brand messages into stories that appeal to the media and its target audiences. It amplifies news, strategies and campaigns to create a positive view of a company through partnerships with newspapers, journalists and other relevant organisations.
But not everything can be shared via PR. The idea is to separate the stories they think could be developed into an effective PR strategy. So, usually anything considered too ‘salesy’ is a no no. A great PR campaign revolves around a public interest, current event or trend that can be connected to a product, service or brand.
4. Personal selling
Personal selling is, you guessed it, selling through a person (usually in a face-to-face setting). This includes salespeople, representatives, brand ambassadors or even influencers.
Using their experience, specialist knowledge and communication skills, their aim is to inform and encourage customers to buy or try a product or service.
5. Sales promotion
Sale! 50% off selected lines!
Using various online and offline outlets, sales promotion creates limited time deals or promotions on products or services in order to increase short-term sales. It can include sales, coupons, contests, freebies, prizes and product samples.
When conducting a sales promotion, it's important to consider:
- how much it costs and whether the volume of sales will make up for the lost revenue
- whether it will build loyalty or just attract one-off purchasers
- if the promotion fits with the brand's image
Loyalty cards are a more recent addition to the sales promotion sphere, adding important elements such as customer retention and brand loyalty. Discounts or special offers reward loyal and repeat purchasers. It's also a great way to gather valuable customer data on purchasing habits and behaviour.
A relatively new tool, and always expanding with ‘the next big thing’, social media has changed the way we communicate. As part of the Direct Marketing section of the communications mix, it can be used to advertise, retain and gain customers, gather feedback about products or services and as a customer service tool.
Just about anything can be sponsored. Sponsorship is something you see a lot of with major brands and especially in sports. It is often used to get the attention of new communities and align with them.
Effective sponsorship as a marketing and communications tool requires detailed target audience research and setting clear objectives.
Packaging is an element which can be considered as part of the marketing mix as well as the communications mix. It’s the last point of sale for the company, and the impact of packaging could set brands apart from their competitors.
Communicating effectively through packaging can include the visual design, what’s written on the product, size and shape of the packaging, materials it's made from etc. All of these aspects could sway a customer to buy or not buy the item.
We have many more communications tools now than existed 10 years ago - or even 5 years. This is why it's really important to keep track of new innovations and releases that could become a fantastic way to communicate with your demographic. Some stick around for the long haul, and others end up more like one-hit wonders (what ever happened to Vine?!) - but it's still great to keep an eye out.
Examples include new social media platforms (networking, video, messaging), gaming platforms, forums, mobile apps and more!
We hope this blog post has helped you understand the communications mix and given a valuable insight into how these tools can complement your marketing campaigns.
Want to learn more?
Professional Academy's Marketing Theories Explained is a video series that explains marketing models in more detail.
Watch the recording for the Communications Mix to see CIM tutor, Professional Academy trainer and all-round marketing pro Peter Sumpton talk about the importance of integrating and organising your communications using the PESO tool.
The communications mix and many other important marketing theories are taught in our CIM Marketing Courses. You will be supported by excellent and experienced tutors whilst receiving interactive learning materials to support your studies. Discover new ways to innovate in marketing and thrive in your career!
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