Communications Strategy

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Communications Strategy

Communications Strategy


The decision about whether to base marketing communication on rational logic or emotional appeals is at the center of a perennial debate within the marketing community. Since Claude Hopkins proclaimed, "Advertising is salesmanship" in 1923, this phrase has been the rallying cry of the rationalists. Rationalists contend that a precise presentation of clear sales arguments creates the foundation for great marketing communication. They believe that a logical progression of cogent sales points leads the prospect by the hand to wherever the advertiser wants him. (Locker, 2008, 165)

Literature Review: Communications Strategy

Advocates of emotional appeals argue that effective communication connects at a visceral level. They make the case that the very writing and graphic elements of the message itself speak to consumers through a subconscious language. Some suggest that with the typical home exposed to 50,000 messages each year, the mind rejects traditional messages. They believe that only by flying in below the radar screen of consciousness, can a marketing message reach its target. (Locker, 2008, 165)

In some instances, the rationalists are indisputably correct. In other cases, the proponents of emotion-based advertising are right. In most marketing communication, a blend of both produces the best results. The controversy may be best resolved by saying: People buy on emotion then justify their decision with facts. Neurological research as well as a substantial body of anecdotal evidence supports this premise. In describing the work of the Supreme Court, Justice William O. Douglas pointed out, (Locker, 2008, 165) "At the constitutional level where we work, 90% of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections."

Some of the tactics typically used in marketing communication that is framed upon the logical approach include:

* Listing Product Benefits - To use this method effectively, the advertisement must underscore consumer benefits rather than product features.

* Convincing Proof - This approach is based upon the premise, "Seeing is believing." Ads or commercials take the form of a product demonstration. (Locker, 2008, 165)

Each of us enters the world as an irrational individual. For infants, feelings are everything. Our earliest response is to nonverbal communication. In the first years of life, mother's smile is comforting. Thunder is threatening. Life is simple. Meanings are clear. Then we invest 12 years or more in formal education to learn how to think rationally. By adulthood, it has become a habit.

However, rational thinking is an overlay on the primal vocabulary that continues to influence our decisions and behavior. So, we invest in a certain stock because "it feels right." (Locker, 2008, 165) We vote for a candidate because "he can be trusted." We make a critical business decision based on our "gut feeling."

Emotion-based advertising speaks the primal tongue. It communicates through design and color. Motion and stagecraft. Music and tonality. While the rational mind acts on logical relationships, the primal mind seeks symbolic relationships.

Symbols are, indeed, the vocabulary of emotional marketing. Just as we instinctively trust the person with a warm, firm handshake, we have confidence ...
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