Message Content in Marketing Communications


Message content deals with what is said in a message and how it is said. There are five common content topics that have great relevance for marketing practitioners: 1) fear appeals; 2) the use of humor; 3) the role of music; 4) sex appeals; and 5) subliminal messages. Advertisers, salespersons, public relations spokespersons, and other marketing communicators use all of these message styles to varying degrees in hopes of gaining attention, achieving impact, and ultimately producing sales.

Fear Appeals: Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all, the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be. Numerous fear-appeal studies have been performed by psychologists and marketing researchers, but the fact remains that there still is no consensus on the “optimum” level of fear. Some Neither extremely strong nor very weak fear appeals are maximally effective. It seems that appeals at a somewhat moderate level of fear are best.

Humor: Politicians, actors and actresses, after-dinner speakers, professors, and indeed all of us at one time or another use humor to create a desired reaction. Salespeople and advertisers also turn to humor in the hopes of achieving various communication objectives. Whether humor is effective and what kinds of humor are most successful are matters of some debate among marketing communications practitioners and scholars.

Despite the frequent use of humor in advertising, relatively little is known in a definitive scientific sense about its effects on customer behavior. However there are some generalizations:

  • Humorous messages attract attention.
  • Humor can inhibit consumers’ understanding of the intended meaning of a message.
  • Because humor is a pleasant form of distraction, it can produce an increase in persuasion by effectively “disarming” receivers’ natural selective perception and reducing their tendencies toward counter arguing with persuasive selling claims.
  • Humor tends to enhance source credibility, thereby improving the persuasive impact of an ad message.
  • A humorous context may increase liking for the source and create a positive mood, thereby enhancing the persuasive effect of the message.
  • To the extent that a humorous context functions as a positive reinforce, a persuasive communication placed in such a context may be more effective.
  • The effects of humor can differ due to differences in audience characteristics. Advertisers must use humor carefully since consumers display a variety of tastes in what is humorous and what is not.

Music: celebrated musicians, as well as, non-vocal accompaniment and unknown vocalists are used extensively in promoting everything. Music performs useful communication functions such as attracting attention, putting consumers in a positive mood, and making them more respective to message arguments. Although music’s role in marketing is an increasingly understand subject, a few recent studies have begun to demonstrate the roles that music performs. Music is an unconditional stimulus in an effort to influence experimental subjects’ preference.

Sex Appeals: Sex appeals in advertising are often explicit. The use of explicit sex was unthinkable just a few years ago, it now represents part of a new trend toward more sexually explicit advertising. Sexual explicitness is prevalent and overt in some countries. Whether such advertising is effective and under what conditions it may be effective remain largely unexplored issues. Complicating the matter is the fact that sex in advertising actually takes two forms: nudity and suggestiveness. It is uncertain which form is more effective. There are several potential roles. First, sexual material in advertising acts as an initial attentional lure and also holds attention for a longer period, given that the models are attractive or the scene is pleasant. This is called the “stopping power” role of sex. A second potential role is to enhance recall. Sexual content or symbolism will enhance recall only if it is appropriate to the product category and the creative advertising execution. Sexual appeals produce significantly better recall only if the advertising execution has an appropriate relationship with the advertised product. A third role performed by sexual content in advertising is to evoke emotional response such as feelings of attraction or even lust.

Subliminal Messages: the word subliminal refers to the presentation of stimuli at a rate or level that is below the conscious threshold of awareness. Stimuli that cannot be perceived by the conscious senses may nonetheless be perceived subconsciously. This possibility has generated considerable concern from advertising critics and has fostered much speculation from researchers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Failure in International Business


Failure overseas rarely results from technical or professional incompetence. Multinationals take their international business seriously and typically send abroad high achievers who have proven skills and expertise. But their success is usually in their home countries, where their skills, style and attitude may be exactly the opposite of what will work overseas. Employees’ ignorance of or inability to adjust to foreign ways are usually what cause problems.

In one country people know in vivid details the colors, designs and sounds that appeal to various customer groups. Careerists climbing the corporate ladder study intently the values and norms that characterize their company’s “culture” so that they can maneuver successfully toward the top. Negotiators approach their bargaining table with a rich understanding of what motivates their adversaries. When it comes to foreigners, however, people see only silhouettes. Overseas many foreign companies approach their customers, colleagues, and employees with an ignorance that would be unthinkable on home ground. They are willing to transact business with foreigners without understanding who they are, what makes them tick, how they view the world and how their corporations. Because they do not look behind the foreign mask, their approach to international business is often like shadow-boxing. They deal with imaginary targets.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Concentrated Marketing


Rather than trying to market its products separately to several segments, a firm may opt for a concentrated marketing strategy. With concentrated marketing (also known as niche marketing), a firm focuses its efforts on profitably satisfying only one market segment. This approach can appeal to a small firm that lacks the financial resources of its competitors and to a company that offers highly specialized goods and services.

Along with its benefits, concentrated marketing has its dangers. Since the strategy ties a firm’s growth to a specific segment, sales can suffer if new competitors appeal successfully to the same segment. Furthermore, errors in forecasting market potential or customer buying habits lead to severe problems.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Carrying out Sales Contests


Sales contests are short-term incentive programs designed to motivate sales personnel to accomplish specific sales objectives. Although contests should not be considered part of the firm’s ongoing compensation plan, they offer sales people the opportunity to gain financial, as well as nonfinancial, rewards. Contest winners often receive prizes in cash or merchandise or travel. Winners also receive nonfinancial rewards in the form of recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

Successful contests require the following:

  • Clearly defined, specific objectives.
  • An exciting theme.
  • Reasonable probability of rewards for all salespeople.
  • Attractive rewards.
  • Promotion and follow-through.

Because contests supplement the firm’s compensation program and are designed to motivate extra effort toward some short-term goal, their objectives should be very specific and clearly defined.

The time in which the contest’s objectives are to be achieved should be relatively short. This ensures the salespeople will maintain their enthusiasm and effort throughout the contest. But the contest should be long enough to allow all members of the sales force to cover their territories at least once and to have a reasonable chance of generating the performance necessary to win. Therefore, the median duration of sales contests is three months.

A sales contest should have an exciting theme to help build enthusiasm among the participants and promote the event. The theme should also be designed to stress the contest’s objectives and appeal to all participants.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Basic Needs


When questioning your target audience, it might help to list some of the basic needs people have, and ask them to make check marks by those that pushed their particular buttons. Most people will react to one or more of the following basic needs (known as “appeals” in advertising lingo):

  • Convenience
  • Comfort
  • Love
  • Friendship
  • Security
  • Style
  • Social approval (status)
  • Health and well-being
  • Profit
  • Savings or economy

If you have had the feeling that people patronize you because you offer convenience and economy, you may be surprised to learn, via your questionnaires, that they really give you their business because your work adds to their sense of security.

You can engage in more free research by conscientiously studying the other advertising that is going on in your community—not only that of your competitors but that of everyone else as well. Have frank conversations with your customers. Talk with your competitors. Talk with other businesspeople in your community. You’ll find that their sources will provide you with useful information and won’t charge you one cent for it. Research can help you save a lot of money and earn a lot of money. For research can help you save and earn even more.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Talking about Signs


Think of signs in two ways: those that appeal to people outside of your place of business and those that appeal to people who are within the place where you do business. The first category consists of billboards, small signs on bulliten boards, window signs, store signs, banners, signs on trees, and poster-type signs. Category two is made up of interior signs, commonly called point-of-purchase, or point of sale signs.

 Whichever you use, or if you use both, be certain that your signs tie in as directly as possible with your advertising. Your ads may have made an unconscious impression on your potential customers, and your signs may awaken the memory of that advertising and result in a sale. Many people will patronize your business because of your ads. Your signs must be consistent with your advertising message and identity or those people will be confused. If the signs are in keeping with your overall creative strategy, consumers’ momentum to buy will be increased.

 Most exterior signs are there to remind, to create a tiny impulse, to implant thoughts a wee bit deeper, to sharpen an identity, to state a very brief message. As a rule, exterior signs should be no more than six words long. Naturally, some successful signs have more than six words, but not many. Probably the most successful of all have just one to three words.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Political Aspects of Organizational Change


There is a large number of individuals who are undecided about change—they need to be influenced or persuaded to support the change. How can a manager motivate employees to change? Most of the change management literature overlooks the fact that people are largely motivated by self interest. In the 90s, popular writing in Change Management exhorted managers to develop ‘vision’ statements to appeal to people’s hearts. While there is some merit in this proposal, change managers who ignore people’s minds (and by that I mean self-interests) will find it quite difficult to garner support for their change efforts. Individuals are not solely drive by self-interests but these interests are important. In some instances, change may involve relinquishing one’s self-interest. The first thing people are likely to ask when informed about change is: what is in it for me?

There had to be a number of decisions to be made at every stage of the project involving large financial outlays—quickly and without political or bureaucratic interference. The decision-making process ensure this. Public support is critical for land acquisition and later for smooth execution. A number of contractors would be involved, and their effectiveness had to be ensured for the corporation to be effective. The community would be concerned about possible environmental degradation. Though the project would ultimately benefit the community, no cost could be unilaterally imposed on any stakeholder. The project owes its success to effectively managing such political aspects too.

If the organization’s change agenda matches self-interests of employees and other stakeholders, it has little problem in gathering support. On the other hand, if the change agenda requires employees to give up at least some of their interests, then mobilizing support is a more difficult task. More importantly, even if the change agenda is aligned with employees’ self-interests, they have to be convinced that participating in change will advance their self interests. Therefore, mobilising support is largely about influencing people to change despite—or because of—their self-interests. This aspect of influencing people’s self-interest is what makes change management ‘political’; it requires close attention to the science and art of persuasion. In other words, we need to understand the psychology of persuasion before we can devise effective ways of influencing people.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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