As much as marketers would like to think of their discipline as science, much of marketing is art. As such, the variables and indicators of success are often moving targets. Marketers attempt to mitigate the vagaries of chance that often characterize a marketing initiative by undertaking research. They hope the research will help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their marketing communications and predict the negative effects of competitive activities.
One of the central issues in marketing communications is knowing at what point the promotional message is "learned," so that it elicits the desired customer response, such as purchasing the product, changing product perceptions or increasing the intention to buy. The general rule is that it takes about three messages before a marketing communique is internalized, and more to motivate the recipient to take a specific action.
Most industries have strong competitors vying for larger market share. Marketers with small budgets may find it difficult to compete with larger-budget foes. A competitor's countertactics can make the best laid marketing plans retreat into quiet obscurity. Threatened companies can flood the market heavily with discount coupons for their products or take that opportunity to increase media spending against a newcomer to quiet the new entrant's marketing momentum.
The effectiveness of marketing communications can often be difficult to discern. But tools such as sales promotions enable companies to accurately measure the effectiveness of their marketing communications. Companies conduct research to see how well its advertising and PR campaigns create awareness and to determine the impact they have on consumer knowledge of the product's central selling message.
In-House vs. Out-House Staffing
Many companies struggle with whether to hire an outside agency ("out-house") or use an in-house team. Some feel an in-house team is constrained by being too close to the product team, which could jeopardize creativity and not produce groundbreaking marketing communications. Regardless, many companies do have in-house teams that produce marketing communications while others successfully use contractors or consultants.
Marla Currie has written professionally since 1995. She is editor and publisher of The Urban Shopper, an online magazine whose consumerist content is targeted to Black and Latino females. In addition to short fiction, Currie is author of "The Humours of Black Life," a nonfiction work. She has a master's degree in advertising.