You’re at the mall walking around, when all of a sudden you notice a poster. There’s a poster of a lady, posing as if she wants to have sex with you, when you realize that this is an advertisement for…shoes?
I’m walking down the street on my way to class, when a person who is yelling shoves a brochure in front of me, giving me a non-verbal message of, “TAKE THIS!”…. as if that makes me want to buy their product.
You call the doctor’s office and get a sassy, sarcastic secretary who sounds annoyed that I’d call the doctor for help… And they think I’ll keep using their service?
You attend a church service one sunday, and the pastor and staff won’t stop talking about “giving back to God.” Are they really concerned about our faithfulness to God, or are they desparate for financial help?
Whether its companies using half-naked women to promote their products, sales people who continually annoy you with product you don’t want, or a non-profit who only seem to want your money, every organization is communicating something to their audience and customers in their marketing.
But something that some organizations may not realize is what gets communicated in their marketing.
There’s a lot more going on than just that image, slogan, or commercial being shared. All marketing – advertisements, commercials, billboards, etc. – communicates a message to the audience. Just like a human says something to another person without actually saying anything at all (we call this nonverbal communication), so does an organization say something to their audience in their marketing – intended or unintended.
What’s Being Communicated?
When organizations market their products, services, and/or work to the world, they are communicating three things:
- who they are,
- what they value, and
- what it is exactly that they are offering to their customers and audience.
It is inevitable, because an organizations marketing is an extension of who they are as a collected group. What a company values and truly cares about is always seen in their marketing. You just need to consciously think about what’s being communicated in the marketing.
Let me give you an example.
Whenever an organization promotes their products or services through half-naked, sensual women, three things get communicated to the customer (even if people don’t consciously realize it):
- Your product or service isn’t that good, so you need to use a good-looking woman to cover it up and promote your business.
- Even if your service is good (*cough* GoDaddy *cough*), I won’t be buying or using your company’s product or service because you clearly don’t value woman enough to portray them in a more respectable and honorable way.
This is just one example, but as you think about what a organization is saying to you in their marketing – whether its an author, non-profit, Fortune 500 company, Pharmacy, or whoeever – you’ll begin to see the underlying messages.
Is the organization greedy and just out to get my money, or are they actually trying to help people? Does this organization respect the dignity of each human being, or are they using slave labor in another country to build their brand? What are the values I see being expressed in this advertisement?
Just as people and organizations can learn from poor communication (poor marketing), there are also plenty of brilliant and good examples out there as well.
Companies Who Market Well
Apple‘s iPad 2 commercials make learning seem enjoyable, fascinating, and fun. (I own an iPad and yes, it is enjoyable, fascinating, and fun!) They’re showing through their commercial that they value human development, learning, education, growth, and people. That’s one reason why Apple created the product.
Southwest Airlines commercials make flying with them look incredibly fun (and it is!). They show through their commercials that they think flying should be non-stressful, enjoyable, and beneficial to the customer . They also communicate to customers that they hate stupid airline fees, which have skyrocketed in the past year (fee that customers HATE).
Chick-Fil-A is another great example. Often, they will give out free chicken sandwiches and meals to their customers. What is this saying? It’s saying that they believe their food is so delicious, that you’ll be licking your face wanting to come back again and again.
Why This Matters to You:
There’s two reasons this matters to you:
1. As a human being, you live in a world where you purchase products, use services, and participate in other organizational activities is all around you. Its inescapable and inevitable. It’s a part of life.
Before purchasing from, using, or joining an organization, ask yourself: what is this organization saying to the world? What values are reflected in their marketing? Is this a company/organization one that I want to support?
If it’s not, then you should go with someone else. If you value something than an organization doesn’t, why support them? There are (usually) plenty of other options out there to choose from.
2. Also, it is important to look at your own organization and determine what is being communicated to your audience in your own marketing.
What’s values are communicated? How does your message come accross to your listeners and customers? Is it the message you are trying to get across the message that is being received on the other end?
Remember, there are always two messages in communication: verbal and nonverbal. Be conscious of both, and make sure they’re communicating the same message (otherwise, people may think your organization is hypocritical). If an organization truly cares about its people and customers, that will eventually leek through as well.
So, what is your organization saying to the world?
Question: Can you think of any organizations and/or companies who communicate well in their marketing? What are the messages and values seen in their marketing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!