Marketing Communication

You will agree with me that communication is very vital to human existence and inter-relationship. Ideas, information are exchanged for mutual benefits. Similarly, organizations need information from the public to be able to identify the needs within the society. The society needs to be aware of products and service available in the marketplace. The only way all these activities can take place is through effective communication. You will learn the Concept of communication in this article.

Definitions and types of communication

Communication: It has been defined, explained, applied, analysed or studied in many ways. It is the art of transmitting information, facts and ideas to a third party. It is also defined as a process of information (ideas and opinions) exchange within, between or among individuals, groups, organizations or nations in a social or societal context. Communication usually involves a kind of relationship brought about by sharing of ideas or establishment of commonness of ideas. Communication was derived from Latin word “communicare” which means impact, share or make common. All types of communication involve two entities which may be two individuals, two groups, an individual and a group, and other such communication or relational scenario. In any type of communication which falls under interpersonal or group communication, there is usually an easily identifiable communicator and receiver of the communicated message or information. The other second broad category of communication involves only one person or individual, the common concepts of exchange, transaction, sharing, and establishment of commonness may not be applicable. This category is known as intrapersonal communication which refers to communication within one-self. Examples are soliloquy or talking to one-self, thinking aloud or silently or having impressions on something or somebody. The intrapersonal communication on one hand, is the individual having his impression interact with external stimuli for example the décor of a room, a painting on the wall, a beautiful landscape, a row of shim houses, a jostling crowd, a teacher at the front of the class, your friend’s good or bad mood – to create a silent discourse; (Watson and Hill, 1984). On the other hand intrapersonal communication can also take the form of or result from impulses being sent “from the sense organs of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, throughout the central nervous systems to the brain. The brain in tum generates impulses that activate the muscular system” these situations form the basis or foundation for all other form of human communication and the bedrock of promotional and advertising campaigns. It is, therefore, important to understand intrapersonal communication because we all engage in this all the time and it can even be seen as a trigger or pre-requisite for most of interpersonal communication (e.g. dream, thought, thinking or idea generation). But for our purpose, it is even more important to understand all dimensions and forms of interpersonal communication. Mass communication (under which all forms of communication that uses the mass media including marketing communication) fall, is regarded as a type of mediated communication by every standard.

Types of communication

There are three basic types of communication-interpersonal, intrapersonal and mass communication.

Interpersonal Communication: It is a type interaction between person to person, or between one organization and another. It is the process of exchanging meaning between people. It involves sending or receiving of messages through listening, persuading, or non verbal. It can also be direct or indirect i.e. Face to face or computer-mediated communication.

Intrapersonal Communication: It is a way of talking to oneself or exchange of information within an organization. It involves sense making, interpreting of signs, symbols, text, communication within the body system e.g pain, hunger etc.

Mass Communication: This is a way of an individual or an organization, government or non government organization reaching a very large number of people at the same time. It is a way of transmitting information or message to a large audience through the use of some form of media which can either be prints- newspaper, journal, textbooks, billboards or electronics- internet, social networks (facebook, twitter), television, radio etc.

But within these three basic types, there are other types or forms of communication that need to be explained. This is because they will help you to better understand the communication concept as well as the various dimensions of marketing communications. These major forms include:

Non-verbal communication

This can simply be described as communication without words. It is also called body language because it employs such body signs, signals or symbols like body contacts, appearances, facial expressions, dress modes, gestures, posture and eye contacts or movements’ action or inaction. The importance of non-verbal communication which varies from culture to culture is that it is often the most common, easiest and best way of saying what one wants to say. The common saying that one has “said much without saying anything” underscores the importance of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal

communication forms can communicate independently or can be used to reinforce verbal communication e.g. in speech delivery or other face-to-face verbal communication forms, deep emotional feelings are sometimes best expressed by using non-verbal communication forms.


This is another form of communication which mass media and marketing communication practitioners must be familiar with because they would have to put one form of it or the other to use in their jobs. It refers to distant or far off communication using the telephone or telegraphy which transmits signals in form of electrical impulses along wires. It is part of what is sometimes referred to as point-to-point communication.

Extra-personal communication

There is also what is known as the computer-based type of communication. And because in it, one computer or communication machine transmits messages which are received by another machine at the other end of the communication chain, it is often called machine-to-machine communication. Telex and fax message transmission are good examples of thisntype of communication.

Traditional communication

This is usually cultural-bound or culture-centred. It is another important type of communication which media practitioner and marketing communicator who operated within developing part of the world must understand and know how to use. It can be defined as a continuous and persistent process of information dissemination, entertainment and education (and even advertising). It is used in societies which have not been seriously dislocated by Western culture or any other external influence. Described as Oramedia by the Late Professor Okwu Ugboajah and widely accepted as such in the communication literature. It usually includes town crier systems, rituals, religious practices, festivals, village assoications, folk theatre, folk tales, drums, music, dances, signals and symbols. These traditional communication systems are still so powerful in the rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Middle East that no marketing communication or mass media campaign can be effective in these areas without their proper integration in the communication or media plan for the campaign (e.g. advertising, public relation or mass literacy campaigns). These traditional communication or development systems support communication (DEVCOM or DSC) which refers to any communication effort whose sole aim is to help bring about improved quality of life or positive societal changes in any area (rural or urban). It includes such communication genres as development news and features, development advertising and development public relations,

Genre: Genre It is a particular type of literature, painting, music, film, or other art form which people consider as a class because it has special characteristics

The communication process

Communication is often described and understood as a process. In every communication situation there must be an idea stimulus or sender, source or feedback. These are the key elements of the communication process. They can be easily remembered by asking and answering the question. Who says what in which channel, to whom and with what effect?

The process starts with the sources or sender who is an individual or corporate entity who has something to say to another individual or groups of individuals. He is also called the communicator, encoder or initiator of the communication process. He literally holds the steering wheel of the communication process which is a lot of responsibility. His knowledge, background, interests and expertise determine to a large extent the success or failure of communication process or its effectiveness. It is based on all these and a lot more that he performs the first function in the communication process which can be summarized as ideation or crystallization of the ideas which he wants to share and which he now uses to design, package or put the message to be communicated in a process known as encoding. Encoding means using mutually understood signs and symbols to put the sender and message together in a form that will be understood by the receiver or audience.

The encoded message is then transmitted to the target audience, receiver or destination through an appropriate medium or channel(e.g. face-to-face or mass media). The receiver or destination now takes over the baton in the communication process and tries to read meaning into or interpret the encoded and transmitted message. It does this drawing from or depending on his own knowledge, background, interests, motivational skills and similar factors. He does this through a process known as the decoding process. This is why he is also sometimes described as the decoder.

The feed back

The communication process is a two-way process. The receiver or audience usually sends back his reactions or responses to the communicated message through a process known as the feedback. Using the mutually understood code or symbol and the appropriate medium of channel available and accessible to both the source and sender of the original message. If he does not do all these or perform the feedback process, then communication has not taken place because nothing has been shared. What happens between the sender and receiver in that “feedback-less” situation is mere information transmission from the source to the receiver, which does not amount to communication. The feedback by the receiver is usually based on whatever effects the communicated message had on him. The feedback can be immediate or delayed, positive or negative. But all types of feedback are useful and necessary in every communication situation.

The channel or medium of message

Transmission or sharing between the source and sender in the communication process is also described as the carrier or vehicle with which the message is transmitted. Whether it is a piece of plain sheet of paper on which a letter is written, a newspaper or magazine page, the television screen or the radio airwave, it must not be allowed to be affected negatively by one other element of communication that is known as Channel Noise. Noise in communication refers to any distortion in the communication message. It is a technical communication concept which has two dimensions, – channel noise and semantic noise. Semantic noise refers to any distortion in the communicated message arising from the meaning of the words or symbols used in encoding the message. A skilled media or marketing communicator works hard to remove or drastically reduce any source of noise in the communication process.

Barriers in communication process

These are essential factors which are critical to communication process. In the first instance, it is called the communication environment. This can be physical within which the communication experience takes place. This environment variable interrupts and creates problems or barriers in the process of effective communication. Some of these barriers are:

i. Divergent background of the participants in the communication process,

ii. Differences in education, formal and informal,

iii. Differences in interest in the message,

iv. Differences in Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

v. Differences in language levels and usages,

vi. Lack of mutual respect among participants,

vii. Differences in such factors as age, sex, race and class,

viii. Mental and physical stress at time of communication

ix. Environmental at conditions at time of communication,

x. Little or no chance for feedback or interaction,

xi. Little or no experiential overlap – few if any common experiences,

xii. Lack of skill on part of the receiver or audience e.g. (poor listener or poor reader),

xiii. Lack of information in message e.g. poor message content

The media and effective marketing communication

The Mass media

The mass media constitutes a very important element on any communication situation that requires communication with large, heterogeneous, scattered or divergent audience, receivers or destinations. In mass communication and marketing communication we cannot be effective without a thorough mastery of the nature, functions, types and characteristic of the various mass media. The mass media are considered important mainly because of the many functions they perform in our private, public and business life in any society they exist. In a nutshell, the mass media inform educate, persuade, entertain and sell. In the communication literature, various experts have put these functions in various ways.

Pioneer communication scholar, Harold Lasswell as cited by Smith and Taylor, again has the credit for laying the foundation for the functional analysis of the mass media in society, a foundation on which others built or expanded upon. He said that the mass media perform the following functions:

(a) Surveillance of the environment which means collection and dissemination of information, news or intelligence in their immediate and remote environments.

(b) Correlation of parts of society in responding to the environment which involves mainly interpretation of the collected information and recommendation of courses of action based on them, and in news commentaries, editorials and columns.

(c) Transmission of social heritage from one generation to the next which encompasses transmission of knowledge, values and social norms and is essentially the education function of the mass media.

Ray Hiebert and his research associates expanded these media functions to six thus, we have:

(a) News and information

(b) Analysis and interpretation

(c) Education

(d) Persuasion and public relations

(e) Advertising and sales

(f) Entertainment.

Effective marketing communication

For many years, the promotional functions in most companies are dominated by mass-media advertising. Companies relied primarily on their advertising agencies for guidance in nearly all areas of marketing communication. Most marketers did use additional promotional and marketing communication tools, but sales promotion and direct-marketing agencies as well as package design firms were generally viewed as auxiliary services and often used on a per-project basis. Public relations agencies were used to manage the organization’s publicity, image, and affairs with relevant public on an ongoing basis but were not viewed as integral participants in the marketing communications process.

During the 1980s, many companies came to see the need for more of a strategic integration of their promotional tools. Firms began moving towards a process of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), which involves coordinating the various promotional elements and other marketing activities that communicate with a firm’s customers. As marketers embraced the concept of integrated marketing communication, they began asking their ad agencies to coordinate the use of a variety of promotional tools rather than relying primarily on media advertising. A number of companies also began to look beyond traditional advertising agencies and use other types of promotional specialists to develop and implement various components of their promotional plans.

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