A communication program can be designed to achieve a variety of objectives for the retailer, such as building a brand image of the retailer in the customer's mind, increasing sales and store traffic, providing information about the retailer's location and offering, and announcing special activities. Retailers communicate with customers through advertising, sales promotions, store atmosphere, Web sites, salespeople, e-mail, direct mail, m-commerce, community building, publicity, and word of mouth. These elements in the communication mix must be coordinated so customers have a clear, distinct image of the retailer and are not confused by conflicting information. Many retailers use rules of thumb to determine the size of the promotion budget. Marginal analysis, the most appropriate method for determining how much must be spent to accomplish the retailer's objectives, should be used to determine whether the level of spending maximizes the profits that could be generated by the communication mix. The largest portion of a retailer's communication budget is typically spent on advertising and sales promotions. A wide array of media can be used for advertising. Each medium has its pros and cons. For example, newspaper advertising is effective for announcing sales, whereas TV ads are useful for developing an image. Sales promotions and m-commerce are typically used to achieve short-term objectives, such as increasing store traffic over a weekend. Personal selling, community building, and word of mouth through social shopping activities help achieve more long-term goals and customer loyalty. Publicity and word of mouth are typically low-cost communications, but they are very difficult for retailers to control.
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