Communication is an integral part of our lives. From personal interactions to the workplace, and in public life, effective communication helps people connect with others with higher convenience and effectiveness. In the field of business and marketing also, communication, as well as communication skills, are of paramount importance.
People come across various forms of communication every day. Some of the communication is personal, or from one person to another, and the rest targets a broader audience. However, every piece of communication aims to achieve some definite purpose. To make communication effective, one should understand the nine critical elements of communication.
It is crucial for marketers to craft highly effective messages to elicit the desired responses from their target customers. It is the era of digital marketing and social media promotions. However, no one wants his message to be ineffective or lose its impact in the crowd of messages their audience receives daily. Even if you are using social media channels or email for sending messages, communication becomes ineffective if you do not focus on things like the receivers of your message and the choice of media. Communication includes many factors or elements which we will discuss in detail in this post.
The Nine Elements of communication:
The person initiating the communication or sending the message is the sender. It can be a person or a party like a company or a government organization. For example, if a company is advertising its products, it is the sender communicating with its target audience.
The sender and the receiver are the two main parties involved in communication. In internal communication, a manager may be sending an email to his subordinate, where the manager is the sender. If the government makes a public announcement through its website, the government is the sender. A teacher using written notes and visual aid to explain the concepts to his students is also a sender, and the students are the receivers.
A sender can be an individual or a group like a company or the government. For example, Nike places advertisements on social media through which it reaches millions of fans and followers worldwide. In this scenario, the sender is Nike, and the people it reached or the people who watched Nike ads are the receivers. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube the company used for promotions are the communication channels.
The process of assembling symbols for sending messages or giving thoughts a clear and understandable form through the use of symbols is encoding. People use words and images to convey their message. For example, an advertisement for an HP laptop includes stories and illustrations. Composing an email or creating an ad for mass display is also called encoding.
In the context of advertising, you can understand it as the process of designing the advertisement. You include all the necessary information in the ad like the product type, technology, pricing, discount details and offers, availability, and best features. This process is called encoding. If you are writing an email to send it to a colleague or a senior, the process of composing the email is encoding.
Suppose Samsung starts the promotion of its new smartphones in the Galaxy range. Whether it is a video ad or a print ad or just a normal digital ad that includes graphics and words, the process of assembling the advertisement is called Encoding. If it is a video advertisement, it may include graphics, sound as well as slogans. The process of assembling these pieces together is called encoding.
The message itself is the core element in the process of communication. It is the set of symbols that the sender transmits or the content of the communication. A piece of communication may include only words or words and graphics or even a piece of multimedia. You come across several advertisements daily and many of them are filled with illustrations and words. The content of the ad is the message. Messages can be verbal or written and many times a gesture may also contain a hidden message. If the receiver is familiar with the gesture, he will decode the message. Crafting a clear message requires familiarity with your audience.
Suppose you are writing an email and you do not know about the person you are writing to except that you have been asked to do so. You do not know if you should include any technical jargon in your message. If you are a bank manager or an investment advisor and writing to a client, you must know what kind of language to use. It is crucial to send an understandable and clear message. You should only use the terms that the receiver will understand and not too complex financial terms since that will distract the receiver and make him feel confused.
Now suppose Samsung electronics is laying an ad in the United States. Then to appeal to a more extensive customer base, it should use US English. If it laid the ad in Chinese or Japanese, Samsung would not be able to attract as many customers as it could, given it published its message in the local language. The same applies in the case of Japan and China. To appeal to the local customers, the company will need to talk in their language. It is why the content of the message matters, which should be written in a clear and understandable language and must use familiar and easy to recognize illustrations or pictures.
Nike is a great marketer that makes fantastic videos for its fans and followers all over the world. However, the critical thing is the quality of the message in its ads, which helps it maximize engagement. Nike has made thousands of videos that are mainly targeted at the sports community and sports lovers from all around the world. It crafts messages that connect with Nike fans easily. The tone of the message, as well as the level of clarity, are all crucial. Marketers need to care for these things if they want to be effective. Why do Nike ads stand out? First of all they have a clear message for their audience. Usually, you can find that out from the title.
Media is the channel of communication that is used to transmit the message. In the case of verbal communication, you might be using a phone or talking to the receiver directly. For delivering a written note, you can use an email or a chat tool like WhatsApp. Companies also communicate internally and externally and use various types of communication channels. Since advertisements are also forms of communication, the channel used to transmit the ad is the media.
An ad can be transmitted through television or newspapers and magazines or can be placed outdoors. Magazines, newspapers, television, etc. are the media used to communicate with the audience or the receivers. You will always need a medium to convey the message you want to send. Messages cannot be sent without a medium since they will reach nowhere in that case.
Targeted communication requires the use of an appropriate medium so that the message reaches the right people. If you are targeting a corporate customer, the most suitable medium is email. Other media would not be very appropriate for reaching a corporate client. A personalized email is generally most suitable for a business-related conversation with a senior executive.
Similarly, if you want to reach a group of clients, you can message them using email. However, once the targeted group grows bigger, you will use something different, like a website, blog, social media, television, or a combination of these. Email can also be used to reach millions of customers. Still, there are several factors to consider in that case since you cannot decide if everyone in your target audience will open the email. You can still use email to reach larger groups of customers and in combination with other media to gain higher reach. If you use two or more media together, it can help you achieve higher exposure, reach more customers, and engage them better.
Suppose, Microsoft wants to promote its range of new tablet laptops. What do you consider would be the most suitable media for reaching its target customers? It depends on your target audience. If your target audience is in the 15-35 age group, then modern channels like social media and digital promotions including video ads would be the most suitable media. Microsoft can also use email apart from these channels to promote its tablet laptops.
The channels or media have evolved fast in recent years. While you have apps like the Messenger and Whatsapp for more personal communication, when you are communicating with a larger group, you use other tools like a blog or social media. For a company, that wants to receive the highest number of views on its video ad, it promotes the video on YouTube.
Now the advertising platforms also provide tools to measure the engagement level. It is because marketers are interested in knowing that how effective their communication or ad was. They want to know how many people watched the ad and how successfully the ad engaged their audience. It is possible to know about these things using metrics like duration for which the ad was watched, bounce rate, etc.
All these things are useful for marketers since they can help them understand their audience’s interests and help them craft better communication in the future. Apart from the other things, the marketers that want better (Return on Investment) ROI from their message must focus on all these factors.
Decoding is the process of interpreting the message. Simply put, it is the process through which the receiver of the message assigns meaning to the symbols in a note. Decoding is the opposite of encoding. For example, when you read an email, you are decoding the message in it. When a person reads an advertisement or watches it, he interprets the message included in the ad. To understand what the ad wants to convey, you will need to observe its content. This observation is what you call decoding.
For example, let’s consider a print advertisement. It includes information on the product, its components, pricing, as well as the locations where you can find the product. You go through the advertisement and analyze each aspect before you finally know the product well.
For decoding to be simple and easy, the content of the message must be clear and understandable. Otherwise, communication itself would become ineffective. If Samsung lays an ad in Chinese in Japan or the United States, its ad would fail to generate the desired response since people would find it difficult to decode the message.
If Samsung wants its smartphones to sell, then the call to action and the other content must be in US English. Even if the message contains an image of the product, only the image would not be sufficient to achieve high sales. However, a large number of ads today mostly include large images with just a few lines of text highlighting a special feature.
Communication is only limited by imagination and you can achieve a lot while saying less. Many times ads that speak a lot are ineffective compared to the ads that do not. The engagement rates are affected by many factors including clarity and understandability.
A receiver is the second party involved in the process of communication. It is the person or the party at whom the message is targeted or the target audience of the message. There can be several receivers of the same message. A marketing manager sends a proposal to a customer and he reads it. The customer is the receiver of the message.
When a person reads an advertisement for an HP laptop, he is the receiver. There can be several receivers of the same message. Several people may come across and read the same advertisement. Sometimes communication has a single intended receiver and sometimes it may have millions of receivers as in the case of a social media ad.
The receiver can be an individual or a group of individuals or even a company. Suppose the government sends a notice to a company like Samsung Electronics or Huawei. In this case, Samsung and Huawei are the receivers. The receiver is the individual or the group to whom the sender has sent the message. If Samsung creates an ad for its audience in Japan, then the Japanese buyers are the receivers of the message.
It is the reaction of the receiver decoding the message. Once a receiver is exposed to a message, there are several possible responses. For example, when you see an ad, you may feel excited to know more about the product, your awareness of that brand might grow, or you may even think of buying it, or if you find the product or the deal too attractive, you could just run to the store to buy it. In some cases, there may be no reaction, and you may remain indifferent to the message and not offer a reaction.
There are hundreds of possible responses to a message. It is why marketers try to create persuasive messages that persuade their audience to like or buy the product. You see an ad for the latest iPhone on your mobile or YouTube, and you are excited to purchase it. You want to be the first person in the row before the Apple store nearby. Your excitement and enthusiasm are your responses to the iPhone ad. Might be you do not feel the same excitement when you see an ad for another smartphone but you still respond in some manner like by showing your lack of interest for that product and skipping to another ad or by comparing its features with your existing smartphone.
It is the part of the receiver’s response that is communicated back to the sender. For example, after seeing an ad for an HP laptop, you might want to buy it. You may remember the ad and later when you have completed the purchase, you might call or write to the company to praise the manufacturer for such a beautiful product. If you had a bad experience, you may also write or call to criticize those aspects of the product you hate.
Marketers also create feedback forms to know the reaction of their audience about their advertisements and other forms of marketing communication and to know how memorable or effective the message was. Nowadays, you will regularly come across digital ads where the marketer asks you if you liked a particular ad. If something made you close the ad what was the worst aspect of that ad experience. Feedback is not a part of all forms of communication but in a large number of cases, communication is incomplete without feedback.
Noise is not a part of the planned communication. It can erupt from other sources and mesh the receiver’s decoding of the message. Noise is the unplanned distortion during the process of communication which may cause the receiver to receive a different message than the intended one. For example, you saw a beautiful ad in a magazine but got distracted and missed the product features or the other key points of the advertisement.
Sometimes, there are too many ads on the same page and that can also cause the receiver to become distracted leading to the person not paying enough attention to an ad and the central message getting lost in the noise caused by the overcrowding of ads. There are too many brands in the market and the one that wants to stand out should create an ad that would catch and sustain the audience’s attention. Otherwise, there is just so much noise that people would forget your brand and product. Marketers try to create a buzz around a product using various means. It helps them gain publicity and overcome the noise.
A few last words
For communication to be successful, a sender must know his audience. Apart from that, he must construct a message that is easy to decode for the receiver. For example, if you are advertising to an audience of American people, you must not lay the ad in Chinese because that will mesh with the receiver’s decoding process and all your efforts will be lost. There are several factors to be kept in mind to make communication successful whether in daily life, at your workplace, or in terms of marketing and one of them is the convenience with which the receiver can decode the message. It is why marketers use words, symbols, and images that their audience can easily recognize and connect with.
An ad with an image of a famous soccer star will instantly catch the attention of soccer fans and there are more chances of the message being taken positively. So, understanding your audience is very important for marketers since a message that will connect with one segment of consumers and prove effective may prove ineffective when sent to another segment of consumers.
A sender should know the audience he wants to reach or his receivers and the response he wants of them. Apart from that, he must understand how his audience decodes the message. Selecting the right media is also important for effective communication as well as developing feedback channels through which they can collect the audience’s response to the message. In the world of communication, you should be familiar with the right tools and techniques. Finding the right tools and methods also helps make your communication effective. It helps you save your precious time and your audience will appreciate it if you can tell more in less.
Marketing Management by Philip Kotler, Peggy H Cunningham, and Ronald E Turner.
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|APA||Pratap, A. (2020, March 1). Nine Elements of Communication and Their Importance. Retrieved from https://notesmatic.com/2020/03/nine-elements-of-communication/|
|MLA||Pratap, Abhijeet. “Nine Elements of Communication and Their Importance.” Notesmatic, 1 Mar. 2020, notesmatic.com/2020/03/nine-elements-of-communication/.|