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The Changing Landscape of Communications & Marketing

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Principles of marketing: Scandinavian edition
Philip Kotler
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In today’s ever-changing world, marketing is also at a turning point. The digital world has changed our lives forever and companies need to adapt. The essay consists of two parts, the first part is about marketing and the second part handles communications. So, here’s an example of today’s marketing.

A viral video is spreading on Youtube, in the video a guy is swinging a baseball bat in front of a bouncer in Oslo. The bouncer takes him down and police is on their way to the scene. Similar videos of the same guy pop up on Youtube and they get millions of views, and suddenly the man is interviewed on the biggest TV-channels in the world such as BBC.
The man is called Amir Asgharnejad, he is a Norwegian-Iranian comic and performance artist and all the videos were staged with help of actors and the director, Kristoffer Borgli. In the interviews Amir doesn’t mention that the videos are staged and soon Amir gets an invitation from a marketing agency representing an energy drink company. The energy drink company wanted to do a “shock ad”-campaign with Mr. Asgharnejad which didn’t go as planned. Hence the movie “Drib” was born with Amir Asgharnejad playing himself and Kristoffer Borgli directing the movie. The mockumentary is a great gateway to understand viral, guerrilla and shock marketing because it makes you think more critically towards digital content and the changing world of marketing.

The marketing communications can be defined with promotion mix (or marketing communications mix). It includes advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, public relations and direct marketing. Each of these categories have a way of communicating with the stakeholders. But marketing communications goes beyond these categories. To achieve the best result, one must combine and co-ordinate the whole promotion mix. This is called integrated marketing communications or shortly IMC which I’m going to return to later.

1.1 Advertising
One of the five tools of marketing mix is advertising. Advertising is all the paid communication through a selected channel or channels to a targeted audience. Different channels include for example digital marketing through Facebook, newspaper ads, brochures and fliers etc.

1.2 Sales promotion
Sales promotion is every incentive towards customer to buy a product, these incentives include coupons, short-term campaigns such as “Buy one, Get one free” and discounts. Companies usually lean on sales promotion tools to boost sales for products which aren’t selling for the normal retail price.

1.3 Personal selling
In person sales, where two or more people interact, is called personal selling. It can provide effective data on the consumers and their needs, and the salesperson can adapt in different sales situations. Personal selling is an effective way to create profitable customer relationships and it differs from ads, the buyer will usually have an urge to listen in the personal sales situations and even though the answer usually is “No, thanks”, the potential customer has been reached and interacted with. Personal selling is also more expensive than advertising, because it involves sales force and you cannot “turn it off” like advertising on a website for an example.

1.4 Public relations
Public relations include news, sponsorships, enhancing the image of the company, spreading awareness and information about the company, its brand, products and services. Effective PR-strategy achieves these by various means such as lobbying, organizing press conferences, publishing new products and maintaining relationships with national or local communities.

1.5 Direct Marketing
Direct marketing is interacting with targeted customers to obtain an immediate response. In the past, direct marketing has been mainly through mail and telephone, but since digitalization, direct marketing has also shifted online. Social media and internet marketing have steadily grown annually. In the US the direct marketing grows by 4,9% annually according to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association).



The ways of communication have changed vastly in the 21st century, internet-based platforms have taken place in people’s everyday lives and they have partly replaced face-to-face human interaction with instant messaging. For an example, when something worthy of “BREAKING NEWS” happens, people don’t have to wait for the evening news from TV or radio or the morning’s newspaper. In social media information is shared in real-time and through many reliable sources. In my opinion the biggest change in communications in the past twenty to thirty years has been the invention of the Internet and social media.

In contrary, consumers have also changed. Product information is easily gathered through different reliable channels in a blink of an eye with the help of internet. But consumer awareness is also an opportunity. The need for educating consumers how to use products or services has reduced. Aware consumers will research useful information on their own, basing their opinion on customer reviews, pricing, values, brand image etc. This has a downside too.

Negative customer reviews can ruin a brand’s image in today’s digital world. A study conducted by Moz (a marketing software company) revealed that 67.7% of the survey’s respondents are impacted by online reviews considering purchasing decisions. Another of Moz’s researches shows that even a one negative article about a product or a service can drive away a potential customer in 22% of the cases.

Online review importance chart (https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews)

A few years ago, mass marketing was the preferred marketing type. Mass marketing is a marketing strategy where market segments are ignored, and the purpose is to reach as many people as possible with the marketing message. One mass marketing strategy is called the shotgun approach. Broadcasting an ad on primetime TV without any market segment in mind and letting the consumer decode the message, falls in the category of shotgun approach.

Another way of mass marketing is called the guerrilla marketing. The idea of guerrilla marketing is to attract attention of a large market with unusual marketing messages and acts. The picture below depicts a guerrilla marketing strategy by Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola was the sponsor of the FIFA World Cup in 2006 which was held in Germany. The slogan for the sponsorship campaign was “It’s your Heimspiel (home game)! Make it Real.”

Outdoor marketing by Coca-Cola (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola#/media/File:080110_coca_cola_heimspiel.JPG)

Since marketing has shifted from mass marketing, the marketing scene has fragmented. Many corporations still prefer mass marketing via TV or digital ads, but some businesses have found a new way of communicating value and offerings to the consumers.
This is where IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) takes over. IMC is a marketing strategy which utilizes all the five promotion tools to communicate consistent marketing messages to consumers through different communications channels. The upside in IMC is that you can recycle materials through different medium, such as use the same video material on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. When IMC is perfected, the marketing is consistent, effective and targeting the chosen audience.

In summary, technology has changed marketing for good. For the first time, in 2017, digital marketing surpassed TV in total amount spend in advertisements and is projected to rise even more. Marketing preferences have changed over the years from mass marketing to a more fragmented, strategic marketing utilizing integrated marketing communications.



Kotler, P., Armstrong, G. (M. & Parment, A. (2016). Principles of marketing: Scandinavian edition (Scandinavian edition, 2nd edition.). Harlow, England: Pearson.

DRIB. (2017). [Online]. Directed by Kristoffer Borgli. Norway: Steakhaus Productions. Available in Amazon Prime Video.




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