Message considerations in marketing

What is said, how it is said and who says it makes a world of a difference to any communication’s effectiveness, more so when it comes to marketing communications. The marketer has to penetrate through the target audience’s perceptual veil. It is important to note that not everything that is said is paid attention to and retained in the consumer’s mind. All individuals selectively listen or see the messages. Selective attention, selective distortion and selection retention occurs every time a person is exposed to a message. Consider any situation, like a serial on TV. How many commercials are telecast, but it is doubtful if all are seen by the target audiences. Of those that are been, not every part is remembered. People even add or subtract from this message. This is called the perceptual veil in the human mind.

In deciding on the message, the marketer has to consider its content, the structure, format and the source.

Message Content: In deciding the right content, the marketer has to choose words and the appeal or the theme or an idea or any other unique proposition that will make the message stand out in the noise created by competition in the media and penetrate veil.

Words play a key role. It is important that the marketer uses words which the same meaning to the target audience as to the marketer. This is particularly relevant because the same word may have different meanings in different cultures and with different customer groups. For example, while the urban elite may understand the use of the word ‘baby’ in Pepsi’s commercial (Yeh hi hai right choice, baby, ah! Ha!), as a more modern and “in� term to describe the young member from the fairer sex, the semi urban or rural customer may take it to literally mean the child or a drink for the child. Hence in communication, it is necessary to use words which are understood by the target audience in the same way as that by the communicator.

Appeal: There are different appeals that a marketer can use to communicate his ideas. To a very large extent, the choice of appeal depends on the nature of the product. For example, a serious issue like AIDS or cancer requires a more serious treatment than soft drinks or butter or any other non-durable product. The options here are:

1. Humor.
2. Fear.
3. Emotional.
4. Rational
5. Ethical

Humor: It is a common style adopted by several consumer product companies. In appeals, the marketers may either use humorous characters or play with words using a pun in the message. Consider the example of the ‘Strepsils’ ad, using a lion that could not roar because of a sore throat and how with a ‘Strepsil’ he regains his lost power. Or the Amul ads that use puns and draws heavily on contemporary issues.

Research indicates that humorous appeals help in achieving the goal of getting attention but it is doubtful if the same audience remembers the message. Hence humor attracts good attention but has poor retention value. In using humor, it is important to consider customers’ characteristics. Particularly, relevant is customer’s attitude towards humor and whether he or she can appreciate it. The Amul ad in semi-urban or among less literate consumers may draw a blank or a response which the marketer is not looking for. Likewise, a sales person may appear to be clowning and may draw a negative reaction from prospective buyer who does not appreciate humor and expects all sales to be serious.