Maximising communicational effectiveness

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Peter Holloway


All too often there is a gulf between research theory and practice, and market place reality, in what constitutes effectiveness in marketing communications. However, importantly, in bringing the two closer together there are a number of basic principles about the way promotional communications work, and the way research can help to make communications perform better, which are universal. In practice, only about 1% of the average campaign spend actually works, largely because decisions on how to communicate are all too often made subjectively, or inadequately researched. The situation is not helped by the fact that there is still a wide-spread belief that advertising is about changing awareness and imagery' and sales promotion' is about changing behaviour (ie shifting product). But all communications have to change attitude' before they can expect to change behaviour, and it is only through appropriate research than one can obtain a reliable understanding of how successfully - or otherwise - a proposed or actual promotional campaign succeeds in ’pre-disposing' people to respond. It is in this area, and understanding how more of the target market ‘ might have beens' could have been persuaded to become converts', that research can be of immeasurable help. Much of the help here can derive from more enlightened' pre and post testing - with research demonstrating a better diagnostic understanding of, and attention to, target markets' susceptibilities (ie why people think and behave the way they do, and how they could be persuaded to think and behave differently). This is readily achievable, but to be of maximum help research needs to polish up both its image and its practice.

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