Marketing communications (or Marcom) has risen to such a level of ambiguity that no one really knows what it means. When I am puzzled about something, I do as most of us do and look it up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the all-knowing entity that it is, defines the practice as:
“[The] messages and related media used to communicate with a market.”
While I do appreciate the simplicity of the definition, it seems that Wikipedia has ignored a few key characteristics of Marcom. Though, most definitions I have researched have been similarly imprecise. Take this definition, from The Journal of Marketing Communications:
“Marketing communications [is] communications via any or all the marketing mix elements.”
What is the “marketing mix”?
“Marketing mix” is a term proposed in the mid 20th century by the American Marketing Association, which describes marketing as being composed of four elements: product, place, price, and promotion. Marketing communications is another, less alliterative title for the promotional element. The Encyclopedia of Business promotes this proposal and states that:
“The primary goal of marketing communication is to reach a defined audience to affect its behavior by informing, persuading, and reminding.”
Personally, I am not a huge fan of any definitions, practices, or strategies originating in a time before the Internet; however, there are a few aspects of the commercial definitions of Marcom of which I can agree:
- Marketing communications does function within the marketing “umbrella”
- We do use Marcom to promote, inform, persuade, and remind
- And, it is indefinite (and perplexing)
What exactly is Marcom, then?
Following the ambiguity of the previous definitions, marketing communications can most appropriately be defined as the scientific art of engaging and interacting with the market. Yes, unfortunately I retained the word “market” and started it off with an oxymoron. But, hear me out.
- Today, there are over 200,000,000 blogs in use on the Internet
- Over 30% of these bloggers post opinions about products and brands
- And, 80% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- Only 12% trust advertisements
- Less than 20% of television commercials generate a positive return on investment
What does all this mean?
Marketing managers must become increasingly savvy with innovative advertising and online Marcom. Social media, blogging, search engine optimization, e-newsletters, and any other online activities are necessary for successful marketing.
Marketing communications, as a term is smack-dab in the middle of a paradigm shift. The way the practice was originally defined and used is outdated. Certainly, the end goal of Marcom is the same as it has always been, but the way we reach that goal, and the channels we use to communicate with the market have changed so extraordinarily that the way marketing communications is viewed (and the way it is defined) must change as well.
What do you think? What is Marcom?
Arens, William F. Contemporary Advertising. 7th ed. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Art Stewart. “”Corporate and Social Responsibility: The Changing Context for Marketing Communications Practice”" Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 21.2011 Edition (2011): 59-64.
Journal of Marketing Communications, Vol. 15, No. 1., pp. 35-54.
“Marketing Communication.” Encyclopedia of Business. 2nd ed. Web.
“Marketing communications.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 2011. Web.