Communication – The Modern Business ‘Foremost’ Necessity

Communication – The Modern Business ‘Foremost’ Necessity

September 20, 2016

By Taposh Ghosh

Any knowledgeable business personnel reading this article, might promptly disagree with the title by arguing that communication in general has been one the most integral components of any business, for as long as trade has existed. But in today’s volatile world, where change is the only factor considered to be constant, the importance of effective communication to the success of a business is undeniably more crucial than scenarios of any other time in history.

To a common man, communication can only mean social interactions. To a business however, communication acts as the bridge between itself and its target customers. It is a business’s way of projecting its ideas, products and services on to the minds of the consumers. And at this point, the conveying of information demands a greater platform, urging the need for effective mass communication, with newer elements being added to this process every single day. And being a citizen of the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) World, the magnitude of success for a business through communication depends mostly on its ability to innovate and generate new ideas.

The Evolution of the Communication Industry

The origins of mass communication can be traced back to the development of the printing industry in 15th century Europe. The industry grew over time with newer inventions, such as inclusion of sound via phonographs in the late 17th century. The 1800s also saw the early uses of photographs and motion pictures to transmit messages to the mass, and during this time businesses began to realize the potential that communication could hold in their success.

The birth of the automobile industry can be credited to how advertising or mass communication in the modern era came into existence. The first use of billboards in 1835, to the first ever product placements in 1873, leading up to electric signs and direct marketing in the 1890s; all of which can be tracked back to the rise of the automobile industry in the United States. All of these only led way to further innovations, such as celebrity endorsements, Television and radio commercials, and contests ad giveaways. Even mediums such as the Super Bowl became targets for giant brands to convey its messages to the mass at a single go.

Throughout ages, it has been innovation which has driven the communication industry to greater heights. But that also gives birth the dilemma as to where this cycle of innovation ends and messages tend to become repetitive. Is communication destined to be bounded within campaigns of ATLs and BTLs, or are there still scopes where new innovation can step in and be the industry’s next big thing?

Is Technology the Answer?

Whenever the communication industry has faced a standstill, it has turned to technology to pave its way forward. With changing behavioral patterns among consumers, the industry has also been efficient in adapting to these changes. As consumers are moving away from traditional mediums to more compact and mobile platforms, such as cellphones, communication too has been shifting screens to take advantage of growing trends.

It is undeniable that the entire global community lives on the internet these days. They are constantly stuck to one screen or another, let it be their cell phones or personal computers. With such a huge audience available online, it was time for the industry to step up its game and migrate online to appeal to the mass. Mobile and online advertisements have been in effect since the late 1990s. The social media boom has not only opened up doorways to newer possibilities, but has revolutionized the entire industry. With YouTube came the birth of online video advertisements including in-video and participatory ads. And Facebook’s concept of behavior based advertising by specifically targeting its users’ social interactions means that the conveying of messages and directed marketing now is as effective as it can ever get.

The Need for Innovation and Ideas

“Everything starts with an idea and the idea has to be creative”, says Ferdous Hasan Neville, Executive Director of Asiatic JWT. Undoubtedly when it comes to the creative industry, it is innovation which drives its communication campaigns to success. “Differentiate or die”, says Hasib H.  Chowdhury, Creative Director at Adcomm Ltd.   

Clients these days see a sea of sameness. Procurement places the lowest bidder on a perch. And clients don’t just want “great” ideas; they want “innovative” ideas. Complicating this is the fact that no one really understands what the word innovation means. One of my favorite definitions comes from David Brier’s article in Fast Company, where he writes that an innovator is “one [who] saw the dots and connected them.” And isn’t this one of the core value propositions of hiring an agency? Clients want a team that can question and uncover insights and then use this to create messaging and products that provide value.

Also, innovations always do not have to mean new inventions or breakthroughs. It can simply mean keeping up with the pace and redefining communication to best suit the businesses’ models. It is that pace of change, combined with the pressure to redefine, which is having significant impact on most businesses. Put another way, change is now a do-or-die business imperative. If you need proof, consider the fact that an incredible seventy percent of the companies that were on the Fortune 1000 list a mere ten years ago have now vanished – unable to adapt to change. That is how important innovation in communication and generation of new ideas has become in the modern era.

The Effective Communication Walkthrough

Shahriar Amin, Head of Marketing at Philip Morris Bangladesh, compares communication and advertising with an orchestra. Similar to how and orchestra needs a number of instruments, which makes a perfect tune only when played with proper coordination, advertising also works in a similar manner with all of its different strategic components coming together to make it an effective communication; the big idea alone does not work.

The average person sees an estimated five thousand ads per day. From commercials on television and pop-ups on the Internet to advertising on roadsides and billboards, the messages are endless. Due to such super saturation, it’s not uncommon for most of these communications to get lost in the clutter. That is why effective communication to a specific target audience is the key to making advertisements stand out and get results.

Thus despite innovation, a series of strategic components must work in alignment for the success of a campaign. And to do so the modern day marketer or agency needs to consider a number of aspects.

Affecting Your Audience

Successful communication in an advertisement involves focusing on a certain audience with information that meets this group’s needs. There are three main reactions that a good ad can trigger from these intended viewers. The first response is emotion, getting the target audience to feel something because of your message. Secondly, you want potential customers to think about what you have to say. And the third objective is to encourage them to take action, such as purchasing your product.

Communication through Branding

Another essential type of communication is branding. The entire purpose of this often complex effort is to convince consumers that your product is the only one that can meet their needs. A good brand will: deliver a clear message, reflect credibility, connect with the consumer emotionally, motivate the buyer and build loyalty. Branding also clearly helps consumers to differentiate your products out of the clutter.

Developing Your Brand

Since your brand is one of the most crucial ways of communicating with a specific audience, it’s important to spend time researching, developing and defining it. The goal is to make consumers feel a connection with the brand that represents your company so that you can influence their purchasing behavior in a way that benefits you. Brands that inspire an emotional response and are able to draw in the consumer build loyalty and a successful following.

Using Emotions

Emotion is powerful in communication because it is an effective way to connect with an audience. Brands such as Starbucks, Google and Apple have found highly prosperous approaches to making their audiences feel good about their products. Furthermore, these companies succeed on an even deeper, more meaningful level. Due to compelling conveying of messages, many consumers feel these services are integral to their lives. This kind of communication is what every company strives for in its advertising.

The Way Forward

All this talk about constant innovation and idea generation raises the question, as to what awaits us in the future? Surely some new form of technology is being worked upon at this very instance, which in a few years’ time might revolutionize the way the industry works. But some experts believe that the next big thing might already be here.

Virtual Reality was very much a part of the conversation at Cannes this year. VR pushed publishing forward, as the New York Times was a surprise big winner, earning double Grand Prix for its virtual reality initiatives. The Times VR platform itself claimed the top prize in Mobile. And in the Entertainment Lions, the New York Times took the Grand Prix for its VR experience “The Displaced,” which took viewers into the lives of refugee children pushed from their native countries. Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman, CCO at CAA Marketing, said the idea “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward.”

Another futuristic technology which has been fascinating science fiction enthusiasts and Star Wars fans for years now, the 3D Holographic Projection, has also been dubbed as the future of communication. The technology, despite not yet perfected, has been existing for quite some years now. Global companies such as Coca Cola have already started experimenting with this medium, and it might not be long before Holographic Projections become a phenomenon of our everyday lives in the very near future.

Observe and Innovate                   

Communication has changed immensely over the course of human history. Newer and better mediums have ran older and slower ones out of business. There was a time, when how long it took for a message being sent out from a business to reach its target customers was of utmost importance. But in this era, the concern has shifted to holding their attention. The role of data comes into play here, as behavioral study of the consumers help us achieve that feat. As consumers are getting busier and more impatient, the need for shorter messages with as much content packed into them as possible is becoming more imminent. Also, in some cases, mundane methods of conveying simpler ideas through shorter messages are working just as effectively. This is where the need to innovate becomes important, as only innovation and new ideas can help marketers of the 21st century identify the needs of its target consumers and thus communicate its messages, effectively.

 

 

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