Promotion is part of marketing which can be considered as one of the youngest disciplines in the business world and is driven by innovation (Sutheralnd and Canwell, 2004). Within it, marketing communications, or promotion, is a management process through which an organization engages with its various audiences. Through understanding and audience’s communications environment, organizations seek to develop and present messages for their identified stakeholder groups, before evaluating and acting upon the responses received. By conveying messages that are of significant value, audiences are encouraged to offer attitudinal and behavioral responses (Fill, 2005). Generally, promotion is used by organisations to communicate with customers with respect to their product offerings. In this sense, promotion is one side of the communication process with customers (Rowley, 1998).
These days’ people and customers are exposed to radio on FM, medium wave and long wave, three national commercial stations and some 180+ regional and local commercial radio stations. There are over 3500 magazines covering every imaginable interest. There is a wide range of outdoor media, not just fixed poster sites, but posters on the sides of buses and taxi cabs, on the underground and at railway stations, not to mention that many people have become walking advertisements for the brands they wear, with cloths bearing logos for all to see. In this array of confusion, marketing communications increasingly represents the single most important opportunity for companies to convince potential consumer of the superiority of their products and services (Yeshin, 1998). Another important factor for marketers is speed of information access, especially in today’s rushed world, in which the growth of information technology is fast. Not only information can be processed more rapidly but it also mean that access to that information can be made far more promptly than at any time in the past (Yeshin, 1998). On the other hand, this improved level of communication has direct impact on the consumer. An increased level of media coverage of consumer-related issues means that any problem with a product or service is almost bound to receive media exposure.
According to Yeshin (1998), there are three main functions of advertising: 1. To inform – to provide public with specific pieces of information, suggestion, explanation or apology. 2. To persuade – company may try to change customers’ perceptions of product, product’s attributes or benefits or to evoke in customers some action (call sales line or visit store). 3. To sell – attempt to persuade the customer to make a purchase now, rather than delay it until some later time.
These three functions are supported by the classic model of marketing communication - AIDA which was originally proposed in 1920s and it basically means that in order to have an effect, communication or campaign have to gain attention of the viewer or reader, than it stimulate interest in the proposition. Third stage is to crate a desire for product or service being promoted and finally, communication or campaign should stimulate some form of response on part of the audience – provoke an action (Hughes and Fill, 2007). Similar definition of roles of marketing communications defined Hughes and Fill (2007) who saying that marketing communications is to either: 1. Differentiate - a product or brand
2. Remind – and reassure a target audience with regard to the benefits – to encourage (re)purchase 3. Inform - a target audience by providing new information
4. Persuade – an audience to take a particular set of actions
Another important part of the communication process, which is quite broadly used at present is word-of-mouth communications in which the influence of opinion leaders and opinion formers, providing high levels of credibility with relatively free media and production costs (Hughes and Fill, 2007)