Marketing is the arm of business concerned with communicating with customers, and marketers have a range of communication tools at their disposal to spread marketing messages. Each marketing communication tool features its own strengths and weaknesses, and each is best suited for specific situations, target markets and industries. Understanding the pros and cons of marketing communication tools can help you to craft the ideal marketing strategy for your business and brands.
The advantages of advertising have allowed it to remain the dominant form of marketing communication for decades. Advertising messages can utilize a range of media, including television, radio, magazines and the Internet. Advertisements can be custom-tailored to a niche audience or designed to appeal to a wide audience.
The cons of advertising continue to grow with each passing year, however. Advertising's saturation of visible space and sound waves has caused a large number of people to mentally tune out advertising messages or even become offended by the bombardment. Advertising has become so undesirable in consumers' lives that new technological tools have been created to avoid them.
Public relations tools are a form of one-way marketing communication that informs the public about a company's philanthropic or socially responsible activities. This can help to garner a positive image in the marketplace and turn consumers into brand champions.
Not all social causes are politically neutral, however, and the wrong public relations move can send a hostile message to specific audiences. For example, consider a company that donates a large sum of money and volunteer labor time to an environmental initiative, then publishes a press release about the activity. Avid human-rights activists may become irate about the fact that the firm chose environmental issues over human rights issues and may boycott the brand because of it.
Sales often involves face-to-face communication between customers and company representatives. Personal sales processes can create positive impressions in people's minds and can help customers to find the ideal product to serve their needs.
Sales works as a two-edged sword, however, as negative experiences with salespeople can go just as far to turn a customer away and spread negative word-of-mouth advertising.
The Internet has opened up new and powerful marketing communication tools that make dynamic, two-way communication possible across vast distances. Social media outlets, blogs and other online communication media can allow companies to communicate directly with customers and solicit valuable feedback on new products and unmet customer needs.
The downside to open, two-way communication is that people can just as easily spread negative messages about specific brands online as they can positive or constructive messages. Reading too many negative comments on a company blog, online community or social media outlet can tarnish the company's reputation and discourage first-time customers.