What are the extra communication challenges faced in today’s media environment?
As a quick list, today’s media and communication environment as the following impact on marketers, each of which will be discussed below.
- Less control of message
- Need more variety of communication tools
- Need to be more entertaining
- Use of social media
- Comparison sites, forums and message boards
- Influence of independent bloggers
- More target audiences (influencers)
- Greater need for research and listening
- Need to be perceived as listening
- Marketing communication is relatively less influential
- Brands may be harder to build
Less control of message
It is recognized that because of the involvement of consumers in the communication channels, which has created a two way interactive form of communication, then marketers have less control over their message than ever before. In the past, the message would be carefully crafted and heavily communicated via one-way communication mediums, predominantly advertising.
However, many online communication tools can be quite effective in influencing consumer’s perceptions of brands – primarily because consumers see comparison sites, message boards and social media as being independent and therefore more reliable and believable.
Need more variety of communication tools
Because of the shift away from mass consumption of TV and newspapers in their traditional form, the overall impact and reach of these mediums has been reduced. Think of a time when the only real entertainment option for a family at night was television (and before that radio), then you would get a sense of the impact of these communication mediums.
However, in today’s marketing communication environment, it is necessary to utilize a greater array of communication tools to help build the brand and to influence consumer’s behavior. For instance, YouTube, social media sales promotions, sponsorships, events, bloggers, various websites, comparison sites message boards, direct marketing, personal selling, and so on – have all become more important in our typically included in a communications campaign.
Need to be more entertaining
Of an increased consumption of Internet media, where consumers can pick and choose the sites that they visit and engage with – it becomes more critical for a brand to be entertaining in their marketing communications. This is because a consumer can quickly click to go to another part of the Internet. Obviously, as a brand becomes more entertaining, it runs the risk of not delivering a message or perhaps damaging its own brand perception.
Use of social media
Social media needs to be a standard platform for most brands. This is leveraging the power of opinion leaders and word-of-mouth. This is always been an issue for marketers, but it was always hard to harness and access opinion leaders.
By creating relevant and interesting content on social networking sites – a brand can build a unique following, generate commentary and referrals, and become a key part of their consumer’s lives. The good example of this is Red Bull that is a highly successful social media publisher and has connected to its customers through its brand association with extreme sports and related content.
Comparison sites, forums and message boards
While a brand can set up its own social media sites, it has less control over various comparison sites and forums. In some industries, these types of websites have an enormous influence over a consumer’s purchase decision. A good example of this is Trip Advisor that has thousands of reviews on individual hotels and various holiday activities.
Brands need to be more engaged with these particular types of message boards and they need to form part of the brand’s target audience. They perceive to be highly independent and very valuable to consumers, and are likely to grow even further and importance and impact in the consumer’s purchase evaluation phase.
Influence of independent bloggers
Bloggers are becoming more prevalent across a whole range of industries. They are typically experts in one area/industry. As their following grows, they become very powerful opinion leaders. In the old days, brands would concentrate their publicity efforts on main stream media, newspapers in particular.
However, this influential role is now being overtaken by specialist bloggers and much of the firm’s/brand’s media and publicity efforts should be targeted towards successful bloggers.
More target audiences (influencers)
As a consequence of the previous points, it is clear that a brand needs to consider a wider diversity of target audiences when crafting their marketing communications plan. They need to consider a much broader target than just consumers – they need also to consider their staff (as part of their internal marketing), social media platforms, key comparison sites, key bloggers in their industry, and other stakeholders (which may include mainstream media, government, and community groups).
Greater need for research and listening
Communication is shifted from a one-way pushing of information, to a two way interactive medium. Brands and firms need to be more engaged in the commentary from consumers for two reasons. The first is that they will learn a lot – which is effectively a form of marketing research with real-time customers. In the second is by responding, see the below point, they will be seen as caring about their customers.
Need to be perceived as listening
Not only do brands need to be more engage with the comments and feedback from their customers (see above point), but they also need to demonstrate that they are listening and that they are responses.
Firms that fail to acknowledge or act in anyway on the comments or concerns of their customers, are likely to find that their brand likeability may reduce, or customers will be less likely to engage with them in an online environment – which would be a missed opportunity for the firm.
Marketing communication is relatively less influential
The impact of marketing communications is probably becoming less influential. Obviously marketing communications (or promotions) is a key part of the marketing mix; however, consumers are more likely to raise comments about product quality, value, service standards, and their experiences and so on. This will have the impact of making the other aspects of the marketing mix (that is, product, price, people, and process) being more important because that’s what customers will talk about – rather than being influence by the various creative aspects of the marketing communications program.
Brands may be harder to build
Because of the array of two way communication – some of which is controllable, with some aspects only being possible to slightly influence – the ability to construct an effective brand (that is, with good awareness, likeability, and loyalty) will become harder or more costly.
This is because the other aspects of the marketing mix have become relatively more important (see the above point) and because it is no longer possible to completely control the brand message through one-way TV and radio and newspaper advertising.