The marketing function is the component of business that is directly involved with communicating with customers. Communicating with suppliers, investors, government representatives and employees is handled at different levels of an organization, but all communication to customers is controlled by the marketing department in some way. Because of this, the relationship between marketing and communication is inseparable.
Salespeople, advertisements and public relations messages are often communicated directly to customers and others in the marketplace in a clear, straightforward manner. An example of direct communication in marketing would be an advertisement that announces a new sales promotion, or a sales pitch made inside a retail store. Direct marketing communication puts information in consumers' hands, and puts the ball in their court to make a decision.
Not all communication is direct, nor is communication always verbal or written. Marketing involves a good amount of consumer and marketplace psychology, and savvy marketers have learned to communicate information in subliminal, unnoticeable ways in addition to direct communication. The visual and audio stimuli in advertisements can communicate promises of pleasure, prestige, or the fulfillment of needs, regardless of what the speech and text in the advertisement say. Images, colors, celebrities, voice tones and a wide range of factors can communicate information clearly, even if it is unspoken.
Consider the tone of voice used by narrators in horror-movie advertisements, for example. Regardless of what the narrator says, his creepy, gravelly tone of voice tells you exactly what kind of movie he is advertising. The use of the color gold used in advertisements for luxury goods, as another example, subliminally communicates an image of prestige.
Different aspects of marketing, including advertising and public relations, traditionally convey information in a one-way fashion, from the company to its customers and prospects. Advertisements or announcements in newspapers, on television or other advertising media convey short communiques intended to capture people's attention and encourage them to eventually make a purchase. One-way communication has distinct drawbacks, including customers' inability to ask followup questions about the information presented.
The sales function of marketing allows for greater flexibility in direct, two-way communication. Salespeople having conversations with customers can fine tune their marketing messages based on ques from each individual customer, and customers can ask their own personalized questions to gain the exact information they require to make a purchase decision. Sales conversations can be as long or succinct as the customer desires, as well. Social media and other Internet marketing techniques introduce dynamic, two-way communication to advertising and public relations, opening new possibilities to tie communication to the marketing function.