MAP: external marketing

 After completing this chapter you should be able to distinguish between internal and external marketing and demonstrate a broad understanding of the external marketing communication mix and how these applications can be applied to achieve the 9 objectives of marketing practitioners. Furthermore, you should be able to integrate a number of marketing concepts, including those that may provide guidance when managing controllable and uncontrollable elements.


In this Marketing action plan we explore external marketing communication. We discuss communication objectives, communication tasks, communication tools, communication media, communication considerations. We stress that strategies and tactics will vary according to the situational factors and the nature of the organisation.


Access the handouts by clicking on the image.

There are quite a few pages of handouts so perhaps consider the number of pages before printing.

The business concept influences communication

Organisations may practice one of three business philosophies – a production philosophy, a selling philosophy, or a marketing philosophy, often regardless of the philosophy each organisation will have a marketing department as we now know not all marketing departments have adopted the marketing concept and are practicing a marketing philosophy. Nevertheless, it is likely that regardless of the business philosophy the organisation will employ the same communication tools – same tools different intentions.

The marketing philosophy & communication

Earlier we stated how every organisation is unique and develops an organisational culture based on the situational factors. As we have been progressing we have highlighted how theories and concepts fit in to this model. In our contemporary definition of marketing wehave stated that marketing is an iterative process [an ongoing communication process] – study this slide consider ir from a communication perspective.

You should conclude that everything we do or say as an organisation has a communication message.

The marketing philosophy & communication

Whilst organisations may have an intended brand image, everything the organisation promises and delivers and everything customers hear and see will form a brand identity. The idea is to ensure that the brand identity is as close to the brand image.

Actions speak louder than words

Advertising is an important tool to assist the organisation to meet the financial, strategic, and communication objectives of the organisation. It is not a stand-alone department but an important part of business-marketing planning process. How the organisation communicates externally is strategic and tactical.

External communication can be peer to peer

An important part of people’s days in many countries is the searching and sharing of information – this is a critical part of the communication process.

3:3:5 marketing action plan [external marketing]

Previously we have discussed that organisations practice a marketing philosophy to achieve the three marketing [financial] objectives: Increasing revenue, reducing costs as a percentage of sales, and building the value of the business.

At an holistic level ‘communication’ is involved in all marketing activities and the achievement of the marketing objectives. Although it is possible to achieve one marketing objective independent of the others [e.g., increase sales revenue through discounting] it is only possible to achieve all three marketing [financial] objectives through the creation of profitable4 exchange relationships4 with customers, channel partners and society. We have also discussed how a competitive advantage is achieved through a loyalty ‘service’ from customers and this requires a communication process of managing quality, value, satisfaction, cumulative satisfaction, and trust.

The above PDFs provide an overview of topics that we have discussed and how the topics relate to communication. You could come to the conclusion that we have been leading up to this point for some time.

External communication objectives

Percy and Rosenbaum-Elliott (2012) state that by exploring the Latin origins of the words advertising and promotion we can better understand the correct meanings and when to employ them appropriately. They state that advertising should be directed towards creating a positive attitude towards a product [and long-term through the product to the brand] whereas promotion should be directed towards motivating the consumer to trial the product and/or enter an exchange – in the immediate future. They state that advertising is long-term and more aligned with strategic communication objectives and promotion is short-term and more aligned with tactical sales objectives.  Throughout the e-book, we have stated that marketing strategy and tactics should be complementary and congruent; this also applies to advertising and promotion. Sometimes the line between advertising and promotion is a little blurred; for example, when retailers promote goods in their advertising. The retailer may promote a manufacturer’s product/brand and the manufacturer contributes to the cost of the catalogue or television commercial. The retailer may have a number of similar promotions throughout the year and when combined communicate a strategic position for the retailer.

It is perhaps stating the obvious; communication efforts must be directed towards achieving the organisational objectives. Therefore, it is important for organisations to define communication goals across all areas of the communication mix. Some goals may be broad and long-term whereas as others are short-term and specific. A number of businesses consultants argue that goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based and this useful acronym applies to communication objectives. Let us explore some communication objectives.

  • Lovelock et al. (2011) emphasise the importance of communication objectives:
    • Creating and communicating memorable images
    • Building awareness and interest
    • Stimulating trial
    • Communicating product strengths & benefits
    • Manage supply V demand
    • Providing reassurance, reducing risk & dissonance
    • Rewarding customers and/or employees
    • Repositioning a product
  • Palmer (2001) includes some of the above however, puts forward the following communication objectives:
    • Influencing the purchase decision
    • Building a positive image
    • Distinguishing the product
    • Reminding of the existence

Previously, we have stated that the three marketing financial objectives of increasing revenue, reducing costs as a % of sales, and building the value of the business all have communication as a central component. Furthermore, to achieve all three goals organisations must attract, retain, and enhance the relationship4 with customers.

Attracting customers and populating the salespipeline becomes an important first step. The attraction stage is where consumers evolve into suspects, evolve into prospects and evolve into customers; they become aware of the product and enter the buyer decision process.

Depending on the size of the organisation the planning and execution process will involve a number of people from within the organisation [see activity four friends from uni catch up]; however, some specialised activities may be outsourced. Product variables, such as whether it is a new or existing product, will also impact on the process.  

  • The following broad planning and execution steps are generally presented in marketing texts – you will notice how many of these steps go beyond the communication strategy:
    • Identify the market segments
    • Identify the most attractive segments
    • Set communication objectives [SMART]
    • Determine a communication budget
    • Redefine communication objectives [if needed]
    • Determine objectives for personal communication
    • Determine objectives for mass communication
    • Determine most effective creative service agencies, media and tools
    • Craft messages to gain attention, interest, desire, and motivate the consumer to take action [AIDA]
    • Evaluate performance against objectives

Marketing is a societal system

Let’s take a few minutes to look at the following slides and see how the theories and concepts come together as a societal system of going to the market and communication between buyers, sellers, and intermediaries. Communication is needed throughout the entire marketing process.

Marketing is a societal system

Let’s take a few minutes to look at the following slides and see how the theories and concepts come together as a societal system of going to the market and communication between buyers, sellers, and intermediaries. Communication is needed throughout the entire marketing process.

The CADDIE process

The CADDIE process is an internal communication process directed towards designing and developing an external communication process.

Marketing practitioners have internal and external conversations

Marketing practitioners in their quest to be best satisfying must communicate internally and externally with the financial, strategic, and communication marketing objectives upper most in their mind.

Internal, channel, and external conversations

Internal and channel marketing is about communication to foster collaboration within the organisation and throughout the marketing channel; the goal is to serve the customer more effectively and more efficiently; to attract the best staff, retain the best staff and enhance profit4 and relationships4. Similarly, the goal of external marketing is to attract the best customers, retain the best customers and enhance the profit4 and relationships4 between the organisation and the customer.

We have also stated that whilst attracting new customers is an important communication objective, retaining, and enhancing the relationship with customers are central to achieving long-term objectives.

In the past, some have presented communication as the transmission of information to external customers. Often you will hear non-marketing people argue that if you communicate product features and benefits with sufficient reach and frequency, consumer attitudes will be changed and consumers will be motivated to buy. We now know that this thinking is obsolete and a remnant from the selling concept era.

The 3 communication objectives

Attract, retain, and enhance relationships is about internal and external customers and the realisation that quality external relationships begin with quality internal relationships. The idea is that the communication process should populate and advance customers along what is referred to as a salespipeline with the objective of increasing the value of the organisation [think brand].

Marketing practitioners have multiple objectives

Meeting the 3 communication objectives and nurturing a salespipeline is crucial for organisational survival and for demonstrating the value of the business.

Remember the 5 Gap model

Often people think that marketing starts with communication. However, as we recall from the 5 Gap model to be consistent with a marketing philosophy there are other tasks, knowing your customers, written specifications, ensuring quality matches specification and the making and delivering on promises. The takeaway is thet marketing communication is a mix of internal and external communication.

The 1st Gap

The first marketing gap suggests that marketing communication starts by listening to the customer – marketing practitioners call this marketing research. Marketing practitioners need to understand their customers’ dreams desires, demands – and their expectations.

The 2nd Gap

The second marketing gap suggests that once marketing practitioners have knowledge of their customers then the communication task is to produce and distribute written accurate specification [including blueprinting of processes] on what and how the product should be delivered. Clearly, this communication task involves other disciplines and managing the talent of staff through training.

The 3rd Gap

The third marketing gap suggests that managers need to ensure that what has been specified is being delivered; this involves communication firstly through staff training and then communication to ensure that any deviations in standards are identified, recovered, and reduced.


The 4th Gap

The fourth marketing gap suggests that marketing communication should avoid over-promising. Over-promising may increase short-term revenue; however, it is likely to increase customer dissatisfaction and, in-turn decrease long-term revenue. Unfortunately, once this practice of overpromising to meet short-term objectives is introduced, organisations are then ‘locked into’ an expensive cycle of selling to achieve revenue objectives. Marketing practitioners need to make a product promise and fulfil that promise, that means avoid both over-promising and under-promising.


The 5th Gap

The fifth marketing gap suggests that managers should continuously review the total gap between the customer’s [and potential] customers’ expectations dreams, desires, demands and what is delivered. This is important, as one of the key tasks for marketing practitioners is to help the organisation adapt to the evolving market to anticipate the customers’ needs.


The AIDA model

Another popular [long standing] model is AIDA model. Holistically it has merit for salespeople and marketing practitioners. The AIDA model takes the consumer through four stages: Awareness/attention – the objective is for the consumer to recognise a product; Interest – the objective is to generate and hold the interest of target audience; Desire – the objective is to arouse desire; Action – the objective is to motivate purchasing behaviour in keeping with satisfaction objectives

Populating and advancing the salespipeline

There are a number of tasks that marketing practitioners must undertake to populate the sales pipeline

Employing multiple tactics and media

The buyer decision process is a communication process that begins often long before the consumer recognises that they have a need and/or want. This communication process then takes the customer through the 3 time zones of the buyer decision process and involves multiple communication tactics and media. Keep in mind the BDP will be influenced by COMP factors.

Mass & personal communication throughout the BDP

The buyer decision process is a communication process that involves both personal and mass communication.

Personal & mass communications

It is generally recognised that marketing practitioners do not ‘create needs’ but rather produce the products that satisfy customer needs. A customer’s needs correlate with their values [human, cultural and personal], so whilst we share values with all other people and share values with some other people – we also have our own individual values – therefore our own needs. Mass communication is effective when communicating human and cultural values – when the message will resonate with the target market. Personal communication is effective when there is a product that needs an element of choice or customisation within the product design and delivery. It is not a choice between mass and personal communications as some products must combine elements of both [e.g., shopping and specialty products].

Personal communication

Personal communication is when two or more people communicate and have a discussion. Although people share the same needs as all other and the same needs as some other people in many regards our needs are personal. Whilst shared needs can be communicated by mass communication our personal needs and personal preferences are best conducted on a personal basis [personal service]. Whilst, mass communication can generate awareness and interest often personal communication is needed to make an exchange happen. Personal communication is critical when the product is co-produced by the customer. People tend to think of personal communication as face-to-face [e.g., selling], however, it can also be via a medium such as the phone [e.g., texting], the Internet [e.g., email], and even by post [e.g., letters, postcards]. Clearly, personal communication has undergone a transformation in recent years and this evolution shows no signs of slowing.

Personal communication is very powerful and carries greater influence than mass communication, particularly with products that have greater customer-product involvement, are expensive, have a greater degree of risk, and have a high service and/or high experience component. In addition, personal communication is particularly important in B2B exchanges where relationships are traditionally long-term. Personal communication spans all 3-time zones of the buyer decision process. When a consumer speaks with a sales person that is personal communication when a consumer is listening to a customer’s product experience that is personal communication. When someone is speaking with their partner about the new car they have just seen in a car showroom that is personal communication. When the car salesperson hands over the car to the couple then that is personal communication. Personal communication runs through the product components of services, ideas, experiences, and people.

Mass communication & persuasion

Mass communication messages require a persuasive appeal. A persuasive appeal is communicating a reason to purchase the product – we often refer to this a product value proposition. Appeal decisions are generally made by an advertising agency and would generally be made after market research has taken place. Three persuasive appeals are generally employed – a rational, emotional, and moral appeal: Rational appeals: focus on the product features and customer benefits. Rational appeals focus on objective, technical product qualities that produce a positive outcome for the customer. Convenience and cost savings are common rational appeal strategies; Emotional appeals: try to produce an affect. The nature of the product and the degree of desirability will determine whether a positive or a negative affect will produce the most effective consumer motivation. There are a number of desired outcomes of an emotional appeal – fear, guilt, love, romance, joy, and pleasure. Another emotional appeal is the use of humour; this can be a particularly effective appeal for gaining awareness and interest. However, it can be offensive and can wear out quickly. Humour must be appropriate to the product and the target market;  Moral appeals: are also employed and these are generally used to communicate a sense of justice – what is right or wrong. Moral appeals are often employed in ‘cause-related marketing’ also ‘social and not for financial profit marketing’ [we discussed this in the module marketing of ideas]. Environmental consciousness is a common moral appeal strategy

Mass communication & persuasion

Often the message appeal is more effective when communicated through a source or spokesperson.   Credible sources are more persuasive. Celebrity endorsers may not always be credible; however, they often increase, awareness/attention, and interest. Some organisations create a character or characters [e.g., M&M’s, & Ronald McDonald]. This may be a longer-term strategy and is often a less risky and more controllable than a celebrity [e.g., Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods]. 

Author’s comment: Often we hear people use the word ‘entertain’; for example, ‘it is an entertaining advert’. The etymology of the word entertain is to create a sense of enjoyment, however, it also means to gain attention and keep a person’s interest, to evoke a feeling, to motivate consideration.

Real-time personal communication

Some product components happen in real time and require the presence of the customer. When this happens, it is important to realise that the communication process also happens in real time. This means that service providers must be given a clear description of the roles, the parameters, their responsibilities, and be given scripts to assist them in how they should act with the organisation’s customers. Furthermore, the roles and the scripts should include service recovery instructions for when things do go wrong. Sometimes when we talk about scripts readers think we are talking about canned presentations; that is not what is intended. Scripts and role-playing are essential parts of training directed at reducing variability in the product delivery process.

Word of mouth is a form of non-controllable communication. Word of mouth and word of mouse are very effective and this effectiveness increases when the person providing the product insight is perceived as an opinion leader in that field. Now an opinion leader when you are 5 years old may be your older brother or someone in the schoolyard it doesn’t have to be an expert – although it can be an expert. For many new mums, its advice from more experienced mums. Some companies [e.g., P&G] cultivate this natural need for community advice through online communication.

The AIDA model

The AIDA framework [Awareness/Attention) > Interest > Desire> Action] is generally presented to provide guidance when developing an effective message strategy. The starting point in the AIDA framework is awareness; marketing practitioners will measure awareness in two ways aided recall and top of mind awareness: Aided recall: when consumers indicate that they are aware of a product or brands existence. Generally, a list of product names is presented to the consumer [e.g., Panasonic, Hisense, Philips, Samsung …]; Top of mind awareness: when consumers indicate a product or brand without the presence of a list. If consumers were asked a brand of television [e.g., Samsung was mentioned]. Top of mind is important as often it indicates a product or brand that would be on a consumer’s considered set of products. Some research indicates that top of mind awareness and market share are related. Therefore, creating top of mind awareness is a major communication objective

Most marketing practitioners will join an organisation that has an existing product portfolio and with brands that are formed from the customers’ past experience and attitudes. Consequently, many marketing practitioners see themselves as temporary brand custodians. Keep in mind that the application of textbook theory is dependent on the COMP factors. To successfully proceed through each stage of AIDA it is important to consider the message content, message structure, and message format.

Human, cultural, & personal values

Understanding and demonstrating an understanding of human, cultural, & personal values are critical throughout the buyer decision process. What may be low involvement to some may not be low involvement to all.

Values [123] + STP

Segmentation is an important communication task to ensure the most appropriate message is delivered to the most appropriate selected segment. Keep in mind the roll of values, and mass and personal communication when communicating.

The key task for marketing managers is to ensure that external communication tactics are not locked into the thinking of the past. In recent years, marketing communication is presented as an iterative process and one that incorporates all communication activities – communication originating inside the organisation and communication originating outside the organisation. Marketing communication involves external customers, internal customers, channel partners, and the communities [peer to peer] in which the business operates.

Although most business people are aware of the role that marketing plays in communicating with external customers, many business people are often unsure of the role that marketing plays in communicating with internal customers and channel partners. Communicating with internal customers and channel partners is generally referred to as internal marketing and plays an important role in adapting an organisation to an evolving marketplace. We can see that marketing communication is about listening and understanding the customer and then communicating throughout the organisation and adapting the organisation. A neglect of internal marketing will result in poorly trained employees, disenfranchised employees, neglected customers, clumsy implementation of strategy, and lower probability of meeting organisational objectives.

We have also presented the view that by focussing on customer satisfaction an organisation will reduce negative word within non-controllable communication. This is in keeping with the marketing concept. Clearly, communication is central to every aspect of marketing

Communication and the nature of the product.

Previously, we have stated that consumers adopt one of four decision-making processes after considering the degree of customer-product involvement and the situational factors [COMP] that are influencing the purchase decision. The four decision-making processes we identified are impulse, routine, limited, and extensive. Petty, Cacioppo and Schuman (1983) recognise that consumer decision-making varies by the customer-product involvement of the target market. Some products are typically lower in customer involvement; consequently, decision-making will be impulse or routine. Other products are typically higher in customer involvement; consequently, decision-making will be limited or extensive

The decision making process depends on COMP

Previously, we have stated that consumers adopt one of four decision-making processes after considering the degree of customer-product involvement and the situational factors [COMP] that are influencing the purchase decision. The four decision-making processes we identified are impulse, routine, limited, and extensive. Petty, Cacioppo and Schuman (1983) recognise that consumer decision-making varies by the customer-product involvement of the target market. Some products are typically lower in customer involvement; consequently, decision-making will be impulse or routine. Other products are typically higher in customer involvement; consequently, decision-making will be limited or extensive. 

The peripheral route of persuasion:

 When information is not considered relevant, significant, or of personal interest then a consumer is unlikely to attend to a message or be motivated to think about the message. Therefore, rather than focus on communicating the unique product value proposition, marketing practitioners will focus on a related or peripheral message to gain attention and interest – these are known as peripheral cues. The peripheral message tactics include associations, an attractive/aspirational/credible spokesperson, a pleasant environment, attractive packaging, humour, and appropriate music.

The central route of persuasion:

When information is relevant, significant, and of personal interest then a consumer will attend to the information with careful consideration, the consumer will weigh up the various views presented within the message and form an attitude to the product [see multi-attribute model]. The central route of persuasion is more about the content and comprehension. If the message resonates on an emotional and cognitive level, then the consumer will form a positive attitude to the message and product. It could be that the message will be attended to and stored for future decision-making in long-term memory because it resonates with future needs. [e.g., health messages – drinking when pregnant]. Often health messages will use a strong argument to encourage cognitive processing with the objective of changing prevailing community attitudes. In the next module, we will discuss the importance of product comprehension.

Consider this purchase decision

Consider a couple [mid 50s] who are interested in buying a new leather sofa, they have a budget of $6500. When visiting a retailer, they noticed a sofa priced at $2999.00 at another retailer a sofa priced at $5999.00. They wish to avoid the risk of making a mistake. Therefore, it is likely that the couple will employ an extensive decision-making process However, assuming the more expensive sofa is of better quality the organisation should employ the central route of persuasion. This would involve communicating the value proposition of the $5999.00 sofa and why even though it is more expensive it is better value [e.g., build quality, Italian manufactured, Kangaroo leather]. If the organisation does not recognise the typical product decision-making process and adopt the appropriate route of persuasion, then it reduces the opportunity to communicate the unique product value proposition and advance the customer along the buying process.

Clearly, external communication would employ the central route of persuasion across all communication tactics. Furthermore it highlights the role of a sales consultant to establish value for money and assist the couple to achieve their needs.

Mass communication

Keep in mind there are many mass communication media – think tradigital – a combination of traditional and digital communication – however, also be congruent with the COMP factors.

Getting attention

Most organisations face competition not just in the marketplace but also competition to gain attention in a world full of communication messages. This is often referred to as ‘çutting through the noise’.

Push & Pull through the marketing channel

Communication [push and/or pull] is dependent on where the organisation sits in the marketing channel – the role of a manufacturer [owner of a brand], a logistics company, and the retailer are quite different. We discussed this as primary, secondary, and tertiary demand.


The communication mix

Organisations that practice a production or selling philosophy also communicate through a communication mix. Whilst the tools may be the same – the philosophy and therefore the organisational objectives are quite different.


An integrated communication mix

When an organisation adopts an holistic and coordinated approach to communication activities then this is often referred to as integrated marketing communications. The objective is to send a consistent message and to generate synergy. The term ‘integrated’ is used to emphasise that this method employs a variety of communication tactics [personal selling, interactive events, educational, advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and corporate design] and mediums are employed to achieve the overall communication objectives. Other marketing practitioners describe this synergistic approach to marketing communication as a ‘unified’ approach, however, regardless of whether we describe this as an ‘integrated’ or a ‘unified’ the goal is to craft the most efficient and effective campaign to communicate the product value proposition to the selected target markets. The idea is to employ the right tools for the task [e.g., social media, print, television, billboards sponsorships, email, mobile, direct mail, website, search engine optimisation, point of purchase material [POP], brochures/posters, market influencers, and affiliates]. The choice will vary depending on the COMP factors – most will use a variety of analytics to measure effectiveness.

With the increasing adoption and sophistication of the internet and computer technology the task of selecting the most efficient and effective media is more complex than in the past, however, it is worth remembering that organisations can seldom rely on one medium. Although a consistent message is more efficient and effective – the creative strategy will vary depending on the media and how best to present a persuasive message to the target market[s].


The importance of brand equity

The marketing concept is about best satisfying and that also applies to the organisation – every effort is about meeting the marketing objectives and maximising Brand equity.

The importance of brand equity

A key part of marketing communication is to link the product/brand with the need (Percy & Rosenbaum-Elliott, 2013). Marketing practitioners often talk about generating brand awareness.  There are two types of brand awareness – brand recall and brand recognition. They are quite different so it is important to understand the difference: Brand recall: the ability of the consumer to link their need to a product/brand without obtaining further information. Brand recall may uncover products/brands that the consumer would consider in the future, unlikely to be considered or unacceptable for future consideration. Brand recognition: the ability of the consumer to recollect a product/brand after obtaining further information.

Advertising codes of behaviour

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (2018) code of ethics states that: Regardless of the platform & media, advertising should not be camouflaged to appear as if it is not advertising. They also state that if an endorser receives a benefit, such as a free product, then it is deemed as advertising.

Acting in a dignified manner

For an organisation to build brand equity it is important to build trust and this means that when social media tools are made the conventions of the marketplace and the marketing concept are respected.

Owned, paid, & earned media classifications

 The discussion on owned, earned, and paid media highlight a recurring theme – that a brand is a meta-narrative that is a composite from many sources and from an organisation’s perspective has controllable and uncontrollable elements. However, it should also be noted that consumers have more power to influence a brand than ever before.

Communication is a mix of controllable and non-controllable elements

Therefore, communication may be considered as: Controllable – carefully crafted authorised and transmitted by the organisation – Non-controllable – unscripted messages transmitted by internal customers and external customers. On a similar vein to controllable and non-controllable, Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick (2012) state that it is worthwhile for marketing practitioners to consider three classifications of media channels when designing, developing and implementing a marketing communication strategy:

Remember the 4 quests

When we discussed the evolution of marketing we outlined 4 quests – keep in mind that industries change [consider music] and marketing channels, distribution, and selling techniques are constantly evolving.

Setting a communication budget

We have discussed the importance of measuring the ROI on communication spending and then communicating that through the organisation to ensure that advertising is perceived as an investment rather than a cost. However, there is always a balance about how much to spend and where to spend it – care is needed.

Broad rules

Although the author advocates for a more disciplinary method of determining a communication budget – there are general methods that are common.

Setting a communication budget

A marketing practitioner is often faced with the dilemma of how much to spend on the communication mix; too little and sales will eventually suffer, however, too much and the precious resources of money, time and effort are wasted.

  • There are five recognised methods of setting a communication mix budget: Affordable method: spending what the organisation can afford. Percentage of sales method: spending a predetermined % of current and/or forecasted sales. Historical method: based on past spending and sales achievement. Competitive-parity method: spending a comparable amount to competitors. Objective and task method: establishing the costs of tactics necessary to achieve a specific objective, for example: [1] Launching a new product [gaining attention, interest, awareness] [2] Maintaining an existing product [retention, recover, remind].

In addition to how much to spend, a marketing practitioner needs to know where to spend the budget and what is the structure of the marketing mix. Many products will have a mix of personal communication and mass communication this mix will depend on the nature of the product [see product considerations]. For example, fast moving consumer goods [convenience products found in a supermarket] may have a high degree of personal communication in the marketing channel [B2B] and a low level of personal selling at a retail level [B2C].

Communication is the exchange of ideas

Marketing practitioners spend considerable time nurturing the product’s position – that means the position in the consumer’s mind – how a target marketing considers the product and relative to competitors. The objective is to position the product as the leader in the target market.

Retain - existing customers

The leitmotif that runs through marketing is that marketing is about nurturing profitable exchange relationship and that this means communicating just to new customers but also existing customers. Marketing practitioners should measure the percentage of repeat  customers and measure the percentage of the communication mix that is allocated to existing customers.

Retain - stay in touch

This is critical in both B2B and B2C settings where existing relationships should be seen as an assett and nurtured carefully. There are a number of tactics.

5 times cheaper

There is a familiar theme in marketing textbooks that it is 5 times cheaper to keep a customer than replace a customer –  whether this is exactly true across all products I don’t know and doubt it but I feel the one think we do know is that dissatisfied customers do not return.


In addition to retaining existing customers the marketing action plans should look at how to enhance the relationships and improve profitability. This theory suggest that customers should be segmented according to profitability and tactics should be developed to improve retention in the most profitable segments improve  profitability in other segments.

Software for Marketing Practitioners

There are a number of software packages that can assist marketing practitioners. Often these are specific to the task that marketing practitioners undertake and can assist with the implementation, evaluation and corrective action needed from marketing action plans.

Meaningful conversations

There is a difference between meaningless conversations and meaningful conversations. Organisations should after considering COMP factors develop meaningful conversations with their customers. This would vary according to the nature of the customer and the product, however, is particularly important for high involvement situations where the customer feels as if they are part of a brand community. Baier-Stein and MacAarron (2005) argue that consumers are becoming increasingly annoyed with organisations that present information without the facility to provide feedback. They suggest that it is being at a dinner party where the host only talks about themselves and when there is no time left asks, “What have you been up to”.


Automation can assist

There are many ways to generate marketing intelligence and a better understanding of demand through automating tasks that are better performed in this fashion. 

Automation can assist

There are many ways to generate marketing intelligence and a better understanding of demand through automating tasks that are better performed in this fashion. 


To stay above or below the threshold

Sometimes it is better for a message to be below the threshold. For example, a private equity company buys a well-run and respected business then it would be best to stay below the threshold. If the business was poorly managed, then “under fresh management” and “watch out for the changes” would be above the threshold – and appropriate. The following photograph demonstrates how Unilever are repositioning [over many years] one of their brands using a technique known as “just noticeable difference.” In this case, it is their ice cream brand which a few years ago, had many different brand names, brandmarks, colours and fonts. This would be expensive to have different messages around the world. The rebranding process is not yet complete; the process is outlined on Unilever’s web site and worth a read.

Activity: The importance of message consistency

Customer cognitive consistency is where all communication with the customers is such that it creates a consistent message when processed by consumers. [click the image to access the activity]

Exemplar: Lake Como

In this exemplare we discuss a number of areas related to marketing – influencers, awareness, interest, desire, and action and how a seasonal products may have a short product life cycle. [click the image to access the exemplar ]

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