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.

The New Work of Leaders


Our traditional view of leaders—as special people who set the direction, make key decisions, and energize the troops—is deeply rooted in an individualistic and nonsystematic worldview. Especially in the West, leaders are heroes—great men (and occasionally women) who rise to the fore in times of crisis. So long as such myths prevail, they reinforce a focus on short-term events and charismatic heroes rather than on systematic forces and collective learning.

Leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and ultimately more important work. In a learning organization, leaders’ roles differ dramatically from that of the charismatic decision-maker. Leaders are designers, teachers, and stewards. These roles require new skills: the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systematic patterns of thinking. Leaders are responsible for building organizations where people are continually expanding their capabilities to shape their future—that is, leaders are responsible for learning.

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.

Customer Value Checklist


  1. Does your company do a good job of listening to its customers? Give a specific example of how listening resulted in improved service quality to your customers?
  2. Reliability is the ability of the company to perform the promised services dependably and accurately. On a 10-point scale, where 1 is unreliable and 10 perfectly reliable, where would you place your company and why?
  3. How well does your company perform the “service basics”—that is, knowing and responding to the fundamental service expectations in your industry?
  4. How effectively does your company manage the service design elements or systems, people, and the physical environment? Provide an example of how a lack of planning in one of these areas resulted in a “fail point” during a customer encounter.
  5. Service recovery refers to how effectively companies respond to service failures. Cite an example of when a service failure occurred in your company and how it was handled.
  6. Teamwork is an important dynamic in sustaining service workers’ motivation to serve and in minimizing service-performance shortfalls. Rate your company on its ability to foster teamwork on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 indicates the absence of teamwork and 10 indicates maximum teamwork. How would you improve teamwork if you rated your company low on this attribute?
  7. Internal service is crucial to service improvement, as customer satisfaction often mirrors employee satisfaction. To what extent does your company assess internal service quality (i.e., asking employees about the adequacy of systems to support the service, how the systems interact and serve one another, and where service failures are occurring)? Give examples of how internal service might be measured in your company.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Intuitive Leadership and Sound Business


Intuitive Leadership is a term that has come into vogue only recently. In fact, tough-minded male executives have confessed to using intuition in their decision-making. Intuitive leadership is more than simply old-style leadership with some intuition added in to guide the corporate decision. It is leadership that takes into account both (a) the executives’ appreciation of their inner resources that are available but often not used and (b) the changes in institutions and society that are accompanying the “awakening” of employees and the public at large. The term “awakening” is used to describe the general phenomenon whereby people are becoming aware that they no longer have to accept their adopted beliefs, beliefs that they developed or accepted throughout most of their lives. These beliefs can include belief in the inderiority of certain ethnic or gender groups, beliefs in the sacrosanctity of economic customs and business practices (even if they are demonstrably not good for people or the planet), belief in powerlessness before the “big system,” or belief in the limited extent of one’s own ability to create what one wants.

In view of these changes, what is sound business for the future? What do these changes mean to business people? Of one thing we can be sure: business life will be replete with challenges. Some of these challenges will stem from the global dilemmas, with growing recognition of the role business has unwittingly played in accelerating modern society’s race towards self-destruction. Some of these challenges will stem from the changing attitudes of employees and the general public—the customers. The new environment for business will emphasize innovation and will be highly competitive. To prosper in such an environment, a business firm will need to attract and hold its most creative people. To do that, businesses will have to provide a work environment that fosters creativity development.

Developing intuitive leadership in the future will not be a luxury or a passing fad; it will be the heart of business. The challenges will be great. It will be necessary to deal effectively with the increasing complexity, interconnectedness, and systematic nature of the economic system. There is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that there will be persistent problems of mediocrity, debt, trade balance, global dilemmas, and worker morale. The good news is that we have inner resources we haven’t been using—untapped resources that are quite capable of dealing with these problems.

Thus “intuition” is not just a new gimmick in management decision making. Intuition is a code word for a necessary transformation of business—indeed, of global society.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Development and Corporate Objectives


Development activities ought to reflect the situation and circumstances of a company, its business objectives and its key priorities. For example, there is little point in a company building hypothetical team skills without addressing the following:

  • The purpose of the team. For example, a bid team might require specific bidding skills such as defining value in customer terms.
  • Where team members are located. People in virtual teams may be widely scattered and they may need special training.
  • The role of groups and teams in the management of change, the management culture and management style must be supportive.
  • The clarity of the goals given to teams, and the relevance of their priorities to business objectives. People need to understand the broad boundaries within which they operate in terms of goals and priorities.
  • The discretion given to teams, and the extent to which people are given the required freedom to act.
  • The commitment of senior management to team work, and especially cross-functional and inter-organizational team work. They must be dedicated to ensuring that decisions are taken as close to the customer as possible, and people are enabled to do what is necessary to add value for customers.
  • Prevailing attitudes, such as the extent to which people feel part of teams. Empowered team work should be pervasive, rather than the isolated experiment.
  • The management cadre. Managers should counsel and coach, value diversity, and foster and encourage teamwork, collaborative activities, self-development and group learning.
  • How open people are, and the degree of trust and confidence they have. People need to feel they are able to take initiatives without being paralyzed by fear of the consequences.
  • Existing performance within teams, the tools shared within teams, and the approaches and support in terms of technology and process available to them. For example, there should be relatively open access to relevant information.
  • Rewards and performance management. This should be supportive of, and should recognize, team work, the acquisition of team skills and the exhibiting of role-model behavior.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Communication Skills


Effective communication skills from the foundation for successful management. They are so fundamental that we sometimes forget their significance or assume we are skillful. Communication skills enable you to lead others. you cannot lead without being able to communicate your ideas well. People will not go with you unless you have established with them your ability to lead. That requires trust which is a by-product of effective two-way communication.

 Effective communication includes both speaking and listening, informing others, and fostering open communication. When you master these skills, you harness a great deal of power—the power to get things done through others.

 Effective communication involves:

  • Knowledge who needs what information and communicating that information in a consise, timely way
  • Choosing and effectively using the most appropriate communication medium – oral or written – for who will receive the information and how it will be used
  • Knowing how to listen effectively
  • Helping others communicate effectively, to ensure that communication occurs among all organizational levels and with all needed people

There are five communication skill areas:

  1. Speak effectively: Speaks clearly and expresses self well in groups and in one-to-one conversations.
  2. Foster open communication: Creates an atmosphere in which timely and high quality information flows smoothly between self and others; encourages the open expression of ideas and opinions.
  3. Listen to others: Actively attends to and conveys understanding of the comments and questions of others, listens well in a group.
  4. Deliver presentations: Prepares and delivers clear, smooth presentations; carries self well in front of a group.
  5. Prepare written communication: Conveys informaion clearly and effectively through both formal and informal documents; reviews and edits written work constructively.

 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, Lectures, Line of Sight

The Management of Creativity


Creativity has been defined in dozens of ways, but essentially it means the process by which novel but situationally appropriate outcomes are brought about. The field of creativity is in full bloom. Thousands of pieces of research have probed creativity. These researches have x-rayed such opaque matters as what kind of people are creative individuals; what motivates them; how creative people go about identifying, defining, and solving problems; what efforts are creative; what constitutes creative thinking, what techniques aid creative problem solving; what sorts of environments foster creativity; the assessment of creativity and the level of creativity of human efforts; etc.

The management of creativity in organizational settings is relatively far less researched, but is of great importance in a world of huge collective challenges and fierce competition. It fuses two fields—management and creativity. Management can be defined in many different ways, but broadly it is an organized effort at improving the functioning of organizations through such processes as the fixing of goals, the development and implementation of a strategy for achieving goals, the control of operations to ensure that goals are being met, the coordination of interdependent activities, the creation of structures and systems, the management of human resources as well as of other stakeholders and so forth.

As a field, the management of creativity has some distinctive aspects that differentiates it from general creativity. The management of creativity involves various collectives: dyads, teams, departments and divisions, organizations, associations of organizations, even governance systems of communities and societies. Even when one is discussing managerial creativity (the creativity of individual managers), the focus is on creativity displayed in a collectivity and relating to the various tasks that need to be performed in that collectivity. The work-related context channels creativity in important ways—towards achieving the goals of the collectivity and in discharging various management functions. The focus is not ‘pure’ art or science, or individual self-actualization, but on creative behavior in an organizational setting in which the organization’s goals, policies, structures, systems and so forth call the shots. Although individuals working in organizations certainly attempt to pursue their own interests, they do so keeping in mind organizational requirements, and this feature strongly influences the form that creativity takes in organizational settings.

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

Marketing Communication


Communication is a constant activity. It is universal and essential feature of human expression and organization. Its scope is as broad as society itself, for every social act involves communication. Communication is concerned with sending and receiving knowledge, ideas, facts, figures, goals, emotions and values. It is much more than an occasional technique employed to convey a message. It is a ceaseless activity of all human beings, and therefore also of all human organizations. Communication is also a central element of the way in which people relate to and cooperate with each other, interpersonal event which is the building block of society. Individuals not only send and receive information in order to cooperate, but parallel with this individuals are constantly communicating their self-images to all around them. Whether we like it or not, whatever a person does as a social act will be observed by others, and is therefore a communication about themselves.

 Communication is more than a marketing tool. It is also an important basis of culture. It has fostered language and music, literature and philosophy, science and poetry. So in one sense, communication can be viewed as neutral and benign, a form of human interaction which helps society and the organizations within it to work well, and which can only benefit those who take part in it. This would be a reasonable approach to a definition if every communication included everything that could possibly be said on a subject, but of course this would be impossible. Communication is a selective art, as important for what it does not convey as for what it does convey.

 Communication is also a human skill, so it is concerned with the state of mind of the communicator, and with the state of mind of the person intended to receive the communication. Communications objectives are often specified as outcomes of attitude change.

 Does this mean that marketing communication is propaganda? To qualify as propaganda, business communication must be seeking to influence the emotional attitudes of others without allowing them to make an effective or rational choice. This is never the situation in business, where in every market there are competitors, and for every product or service there is an alternative or substitute. Indeed, the existence of competition is now arguably a necessary precondition for business strategy. Communication by a business is a creative form of differentiation, always competitive, always seeking to persuade customers, shareholders and employees that its own market offerings are the best choice available. That is the sales pitch of the marketplace, not the imperative of propaganda.

 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

Creative Tension


Leadership in a learning organization starts with the principle of creative tension. Creative tension comes from seeing clealrly where we want to be, our “vision,” and telling the truth about where we are, “current reality.” The gap between the two generates a natural tension.

Creative tension can be resolved in two basic ways: by raising current reality toward the vision, or by lowering the vision toward current reality. Individuals, groups, and organizations who learn how to work with creative tension learn how to use the energy it generates to move reality toward their visions.

Without vision there is no creative tension. Creative tension cannot be generated from current reality alone. All the analysis in the world will never generate vision. Many who are otherwise qualified to lead fail to do so because they try to substitute analysis for vision. They believe that, if only people understood current reality, they would surely feel the motivation to change. They are then disappointed to discover that people “resist” the personal and organizational changes that must be made to alter reality. What they never grasp is that the natural energy for changing reality comes from holding a picture of what might be that is more important to people than what is.

But creative tension cannot be generated from vision alone; it demands an accurate picture of current reality as well. Vision without an understanding of current reality will more likely foster cynicism than creativity. The principle of creative tension teaches that an accurate picture of current reality is just as important as a compelling picture of a desired future.

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

Heroes and Heroines


Heroes and heroines transmit culture by personifying its corporate values. Leaders viewed in this way reinforce the basic values of an organization’s culture by providing role models, symbolizing their organization to the outside world, preserving the organization’s special qualities, setting a standard of performance, motivating employees, and making success attainable and human. Managers who create heroes or heroines foster a set of corporate values that may stabilize the current organization or expedite change.

 

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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