Marketing Communication: Channels and Promotion Tools


Marketing Communication: Definition

“Marketing communications are the means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade, and remind consumers – directly, or indirectly – about the products and brands that they sell.” (Kotler and Keller)

Marketing: Communicating Value

Marketing Communication for “Communicating Value.”

Kotler and Keller in the 15th Edition of “Marketing Management” devoted Part 6 to the topic “Communicating Value.”

Chapter 17. Designing and Managing Integrated Marketing Communications
Chapter 18. Managing Mass Communications: Advertising, Sales Promotions,Events and Experiences, and Public Relations, 
Chapter 19. Managing Digital Communication: Online, Social Media, and Mobile, and 
Chapter 20. Managing Personal Communications: Direct and Database Marketing and Personal Selling constitute Part 6. “Communicating Value.”

In this article, all the communications channels indicated by Kotler and Keller are described for their characteristics and benefits.

Personal and nonpersonal communication channels can be used for marketing communications. Within both of them there are many subchannels. The marketing communications mix is presented as mix of eight major modes or types of communication alternatives by Kotler and Keller in the 13 Edition.
1. Advertising
2. Sales promotion
3. Events and experiences
4. Public relations and publicity
5. Direct marketing
6. Interactive marketing
7. Word-of-mouth marketing
8. Personal selling

Marketing 4.0 is the new communication manifesto of marketing. The manifesto was released by Kotler in 2017. Go through the write-up and the book.
Advertisement – Is the only Way?

Personal Communication Channels

Personal communication is communication between two or more persons with a specific person communication with others. The message emanates from a specific person. It can be done face to face, or by a person to audience, over telephone, or through post or couriers or through emails or through mobile messages.
The personal communications in the case of marketing can also be categorized as communications from advocate, expert and social contacts. The company salespersons’ communication to customers is communication from advocates of the product.

An independent expert communicating to prospective buyers about the merits of the product is classified as expert communication. A neighbor saying good things about a brand is social channel of communication.
Companies take various steps to stimulate personal communications about their products and brands.
1. They identify influential individuals and devote extra effort on them.
2. Create opinion leaders by supplying possible opinion leaders with the product on attractive terms.
3. Use influential or believable people in testimonial advertising.
4. Develop word of mouth publicity by requesting satisfied clients to promote their product among their friends.
5. Establish online discussion groups and communities

Nonpersonal Communication Channels

They include media, atmospheres, and events.
Media channels include print media (newspaper, magazines, souvenirs, proceedings of conferences), broadcast media (radio, television), display media (billboards, signs, posters) and electronic media (audiotape, videotape, videodisk, CD-ROM).
Atmosphere is what firms create in their office environment. The office interiors and exteriors have a meaning to the potential buyers.
Events are occurrences designed to communicate particular messages to target audiences or audiences. Company arranged news conferences, opening ceremonies of various kinds, and sponsorships of various events come under event communications channels.
Communication through mass media stimulates personal communication channels.

The Promotional Tools

The characteristics of various promotional tools are as follows:


Advertising is a public mode of communication. Because it is communicated simultaneously to large number of people and people know that the same communication is going to many people, they feel their motives for buying are understood by the advertiser.
Advertising messages can be repeated number of times. Buyers also can compare advertisements of various companies selling the same product. The media offers the facility to add color, sound etc. to the message and dramatize the message. But advertising cannot have dialogue with the people. People may not see and pay attention to the advertisement.
Advertising is an efficient way to reach geographically dispersed potential buyers at a low cost per exposure.
Advertising has two recent variants. Advertorials are offer editorial content and while it is paid for by the advertiser and it will be difficult for the reader to easily make out that it is an advertisement. Similarly infomercials are TV programs that are meant for promoting the products of the company. They discuss the working of the product, benefits of the products, and user experience etc. and they may beam the message to buy the product and the address to be contacted.

Sales promotion

Sales promotion tools like coupons, contests, premiums, and the like act as communication medium and also promote sales.
They gain attention and provide information that may lead the consumer to the product. They include a distinct invitation to the consumer to do the transaction in a short period of time.

Public relations and publicity

News stories and feature articles are more authentic and credible than advertisements to readers. The articles act as testimonials. The message gets through to the potential buyers as news and they may not turn away from it as they turn away from the advertisements.

Personal selling

Personal selling as a communicative channel involves a live, immediate, and interactive relationship between persons. Personal selling leads to relationships. The listener feels obligated to respond to the salesman at least with a polite “thank you.”

Direct Marketing

The alternatives are direct mail, Email, and telemarketing. In these cases the message is addressed to a specific person. The message can be customized. Even though mailing folders and email are normally standardized to gain efficiency. The message can be up to date.  In case of telemarketing, message can be altered depending on the response. In the case of other alternatives subsequent communication can be altered depending on the response. 

Events and Experiences

They include sponsorships of sports, arts, entertainment and cause events as well as activities that create novel interactions of consumers with product or brand. An example of experience can be providing airconditioned bus ride to potential consumers to make them excited about buying an airconditioner. Another example is internet companies providing internet at airports for free use by travellers.


Philip Kotler, Marketing Management 

American Marketing Association Marketing Communications Toolkit

Books on Marketing Communication.

Advertising Promotion and Other Aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications

Terence Shimp, J. Craig Andrews
Cengage Learning, 16-Jan-2013 –  752 pages
Table of Contents
1. An Overview of Integrated Marketing Communications.
2. Enhancing Brand Equity and Accountability.
3. Brand Adoption, Brand Naming and Intellectual Property Issues.
4. Environmental, Regulatory and Ethical Issues.
5. Segmentation and Targeting in I.M.C.
6. The Communications Process and Consumer Behavior.
7. The Role of Persuasion in I.M.C.
8. I.M.C. Objective Setting and Budgeting.
9. An Overview of Advertising Management.
10. Effective and Creative Ad Messages.
11. Endorsers and Message Appeals in Advertising.
12. Traditional Ad Media.
13. Online Advertising.
14. Social Media.
15. Direct Advertising and Other Media.
16. Media Planning and Analysis.
17. Measuring Ad Message Effectiveness.
18. Sales Promotion Overview and the Role of Trade Promotion.
19. Consumer Sales Promotion: Sampling and Couponing.
20. Consumer Sales Promotion: Premiums and other Promotions.
21. Public Relations, Buzz Marketing, and Sponsorships.
22. Packaging, POP Communications, and Signage.
23. Personal Selling.

MBA Core Management Knowledge – One Year Revision Schedule

Planned Revision schedule for marketing chapters is in February and March

Related Articles

Marketing Management Article Series Directory


Article originally posted in     marketing-communication-channels-and-promotion-tools

Updated 6 June 2019,   8 May 2019,   31 March 2019,  28 Jan 2015, 17 Dec 2014, 9 June 2014