Defining the concept of marketing communication (MC) is not an easy task, because in a real sense, everything the company does has communication potential. The price placed on a product communicates something very specific about the product. A company that chooses to distribute their products strictly through discount stores tells the consumer a great deal. Yet if all of these things are considered communication, the following definition is offered:
Marketing communication includes all the identifiable efforts on the part of the seller that are intended to help persuade buyers to accept the seller's message and store it in retrievable form.
Note that the central theme of the communication process is persuasion. Communication is most definitely goal-directed. It is not intended to be an arbitrary, haphazard activity. Each of the tools used in marketing communication has specific potentialities and complexities that justify managerial specialization and require directed efforts. Yet a company, even a very large one, typically does not have a specialist in each area, but only in those cases where the importance and usage frequency of the tool justify specialized competence. Historically, companies first made a separate function out of the personal selling function, later out of advertising, and still later out of public relations. The remaining tools (e.g. coupons, specials) were employed by the directors of these functional areas as needed. Although the definitions vary, the four components that make up marketing communication are as follows:
- Advertising: Any paid form of non-personal presentation of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor. Although some advertising is directed to specific individuals (as, for example, in the use of direct mail), most advertising messages are tailored to a group, and employ mass media such as radio, television, newspaper, and magazines.
- Personal selling: An oral presentation in a conversation with one or more prospective purchasers for the purpose of making sales. It includes several different forms, such as sales calls by a field representative (field selling), assistance by a sales clerk (retail selling), having an Avon representative call at your home (door-to-door selling), and so forth.
- Public relations: A non-personal stimulation of demand for a product, service, or business unit by planting commercially significant news about it in a published medium (i.e. publicity) or obtaining favorable presentation of it through vehicles not paid for by the sponsor. Although commissions are not paid to the various media, there are salaries and other expenses that mean that public relations is not a costless form of promotion.
- Sales promotion: Those marketing activities that add to the basic value of the product for a limited time period and thus directly stimulate consumer purchasing and dealer effectiveness. These activities include displays, shows and exhibitions, demonstrations, and various nonrecurring selling efforts not in the ordinary routine. As the provision for an additional incentive to buy, these tools can be directed at consumers, the trade, or the manufacturer's own sales force.