Non-personal Communications Channels

Non-personal channels are communications directed to more than one person and include media, sales promotions, events, and publicity.

Media consist of print media (newspapers and magazines); broadcast media (radio and television); network media (telephone, cable, satellite, wireless); electronic media (audio-tape, videotape, videodisk, CD-ROM, Web page); and display media (billboards, signs, posters). Most non-personal messages come through paid media.

Sales promotions consist of consumer promotions (such as samples coupons and premiums); trade promotion (such as advertising and display allowances); and business and sales-force promotion (contests for sales reps).

Events and experience include sports, arts, entertainment, and cause events as well as less formal activities that create novel brand interactions with consumers.

Public relations include communications directed internally to employee of the company or externally to consumers, other firms, the government and media.

Much of the recent growth of non-personal channels has been with events and experiences. A company can build its brand image through creating or sponsoring events. Events marketers who once favored sports events are now using other venues such as art museums, zoos, or ice shows to entertain clients and employees. AT&T and IBM sponsor symphony performances and art exhibits; Visa is an active sponsor of the Olympics; Harley-Davidson sponsors annual motorcycle rallies; and Perrier sponsors sports and other events.

Companies are searching for better ways to quantify the benefits of sponsorship and are demanding greater accountability from event owners and organizers. Companies can also create events designed to surprise the public and create a buzz. Many amount to guerrilla marketing tactics. Here are some examples:

Driver 2, a new car chase video game, arranged for a convoy of 20 car wrecks with smoke pouring from their engines to crawl through Manhattan and Los Angeles to attract attention to the new game.

Ask Jeeves, the Internet search engine, sent 35 actors in British butlers’ outfits to guide visitors to their seats and answer tennis trivia questions at the US Open tennis tournament. pays hundreds of school girls to do “peer marketing” by hanging around with their peers, handing out free lip gloss, and talking up Kibu’s cosmetic site.

The increased use of attention getting events is a response to the fragmentation of media: Consumers can turn to hundreds of cable channels, thousands of magazine titles, and millions of Internet pages. Events can create attention, although whether they have a lasting effect on brand awareness, knowledge or preference will vary considerable depending on the quality of the product, the event itself, and its execution.