To communicate effectively, you need to know who you are trying to reach and what for. In other words, you need to identify the target audience and determine the objectives of your communications.
As consumers come across products and services, they develop a response along three different stages. The first (cognitive) stage is followed by an affective stage and, eventually, a behavior stage.
- The cognitive stage is where consumers find out information about the product, become aware of its existence or the product/service has caught their attention (the Attention stage from the AIDA model or the Awareness and Knowledge stages from the hierarchy-of-effects model).
- The affective stage is where they develop attitudes and emotions regarding the product/service (Interest and Desire from AIDA, Liking, Preference & Conviction from the hierarchy-of-effects.)
- Finally, it is during the behavior stage that they act, in other words purchase the product/service.
Your market analysis has to tell you exactly what your customer niche is and in which of these stages they find themselves relative to your product/service.
Only then can you move to the next step in your communications design and determine the objectives. They can be:
- to establish a need on the market or to build brand awareness and recall (cognitive),
- to generate brand attitude (affective)
- to generate brand purchase intention (behavior).
Once you know your target and your objectives, you can more effectively design the message, select the channels, establish a budget, decide on a media mix and measure the results.
Interesting insights on message strategy come from a book co-authored by Kotler, Keller, Brady, Goodman and Hansen, called Marketing Management (Pearson Education Ltd., 2009). I will quote these smart gentlemen:
“Buyers expect one of four types of reward from a market offering: rational, sensory, social or ego satisfaction. Buyers might visualize these rewards from: results-of-use experience, product-in-use experience or incidental to use experience. Crossing the four types of rewards with the tree types of experience generates 12 types of messages. For example, the appeal ‘gets clothes cleaner’ is a rational-reward promise following results-of-use experience. The phrase ‘real beer taste in a great light beer’ is a sensory-reward promise connected with product-in-use experience.”
Fascinating stuff, right?
Applying it in message creation and strategy is the real art. Now, imagine how much more tricky that is in a cross-cultural environment! 😉 I hope I have aroused your curiosity.
Until next time,
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