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Marketing Communications - Critically evaluate the role of a web site in an organization’s marketing communications. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

The intent of this essay is to critically evaluate the role of a web site as a form of marketing communication used by organizations. In order to understand the impact that websites have in terms of communication I intend to link the various changes that have taken place in terms of Post Fordism and Globalisation. The development of contemporary communications technologies like websites, especially with their capacities for time-space compression, does lead to the oft quoted phrase of areas without boundaries. This is true specifically since the ability of instant connectivity at any place and at any time is the reason behind this world becoming 'smaller'. I aim to understand the role of marketing communications in relation to the placeless world that we live in. It attempts to understand the construction of geography in our post modern electronic landscape. 'Electronic media have changed the significance of space, time, and physical barriers as communication variables. We can now speak to someone in Alaska while we are sunning in Florida, we can experience distance news events as they are happening or re- experience images actions, and voices of those long dead, we can sit in any room in any house in the country and get a close up view of a football huddle'( Meyrowitz, 1985:13).  My concern with the 'relationship' is specific to the changes and development since the late 1970's and how it can be interpreted in terms of the development of contemporary communications technologies. 'This is the story of how individuals and nations struggled- and competed- to encompass the newly- imagined globe, from the first circum - navigations to the age of satellites and cheap air travel in the 1970's' (MacGillivray, 2006:8). The basic focus of the essay would be the use of websites as a marketing and communication tool for organizations.

This essay attempts to highlight the power and significance of the changes that took place in the post Fordist culture of the globalised world of today. The late 1970's was a period of 'Cultural Turn' associated with changes in the marketing strategies highlighted by 'intensive knowledge of and orientation to the consumer …and the construction of meaningful social life through…symbolic resources' (Slater, Don and Tonkiss, 2002:178).This was a period when there was a shift from Fordism, which was a standardised system of mass production and consumption to Post Fordism, associated with 'niche marketing' and reaching out to consumers. There was also a definite shift in the lives of the people, 'This new petite bourgeoisie distinguishes themselves from the old petite bourgeoisie …in both their working habits and routines of daily living, this new faction tends to blur a number of conventional distinctions' (Negus, 2002:503).The late 20th century saw the birth of a new faction of the middle class which brought about a huge change in the culture and economy of the world. Fordism was associated with Henry Ford and his standardised means of functioning through organised capitalism of mass standardisation and jobs for life. The target audience was the social class, high output and decreasing unit cost of production governed the logic of market sales. Henry Ford's statement that the consumer could have any car as long as it was black reflects the complete separation between production and marketing.

Websites today, are not just targeted to the external audience but also to the internal audience namely, the employees. In an era of competitiveness where brand loyalty is very crucial, organisations have understood the importance of employee satisfaction. 'Three factors- conflict, conformity, and consensus- greatly affect the efficiency with which a team operates and the amounts of enjoyment members derive from it'(Ober& Quiring, 1992: 59). Intranet or internal organisation websites are therefore being used to market the brand amongst the employees. Ensuring that all the team members who contribute to the decision are happy with the communication they have received can be a daunting task. To ensure that everyone is satisfied depends on the organization's ability to communicate however the level of agreement cannot be determined. The reasons being- some of the team members might agree just to avoid confrontation or the others might agree just keeping the authority in mind. Therefore when managing people it is highly imperative to have an environment which is 'free' where every team member has the freedom of expressing or communicating their thoughts without any negative repercussions. In such an environment until and unless everyone in the team think or react the same way it is highly improbable that employees remain loyal. Ensuring clear communication through websites with added features of benefits available to the employees can play a very important role. Empowering employees through their knowledge of the brand and the services being offered can help in marketing in a major way. Since communication plays a very important role, using the intranet as a means of keeping everyone up to date can only enhance the organisations' image and loyalty towards it.

The website of an organisation can play a very important role however it can be a positive marketing tool only if it is 'consumer- customer driven'. 'The internet represents a tremendous opportunity to customers, it gives a much wider choice of products, services…for organisations…it gives the opportunity to expand into markets, offer new services and compete on a more equal footing with larger organistions…For those working gives the opportunity to develop skills and to use the Internet to improve the competitiveness of the company' (Chaffey, Chadwick, Mayer and Johnston, 2006: XIII). Therefore, the website is a very powerful tool which when used in the correct manner can influence the marketing of an organisation in the manner desired. Integrated with other marketing tools it has the ability to ensure that the organisation has an edge over the others in terms of driving the success of the organisation.

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