Marketing communications – how is the process?: a case study of the Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA)

Since marketing could be relevant for any organization, even those whose primary goal is non-economic and especially those who undertake a customer-oriented approach, this master’s thesis will focus on one of its elements: Promotions or marketing communications. The research problem has been formulated as follows:

The purpose of this study is to make an assessment of the marketing communications process of a non-profit organization.

The frame of reference, based on a literature review of performed research within the area, will guide this research. The marketing communications process defined involves a message sender and a message receiver. It involves the three major concerns of WHOM to reach, WHAT to say and HOW it should be done. Further, it includes the planning and development of communications. Above all: It includes the connection to the overall strategic direction of the entire organization.

To explore and to describe the marketing communications process of a non- profit organization from a managerial perspective, a case study has been conducted at a large Swedish governmental agency – the Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA). Managers of information and communication, working centrally as well as regionally, have been interviewed. To explore the process from the receiver’s perspective, a pilot study has been conducted. A focus group with eleven young people was conducted in the city of Luleå. Their perception of the SNRA was explored, as well as how it communicates with young people. In order to answer the second research question, how the process of other non-profit organizations is different, the Swedish Customs was interviewed. In addition, the planning and development procedure of the Climate campaign was assessed. The government and the Swedish Environmental protection Agency commission it.

The findings of this study indicates that the sender of marketing communications, in this case the SNRA, has internal problems as well as problems related to the receiver or target audience. Internally, it is sometimes hard to get hold of the overall picture of what is being communicated. Furthermore, the target audience becomes a second priority when internal assigners must be pleased. Even though things are perceived to improve, the SNRA does not succeed in targeting their segments consistently. The concerns of WHAT, and HOW, rather than WHOM, seem to dominate decision-making. The logical central steps in communications planning, described in theory, are not generally performed that logically by the SNRA. On the other hand, the planning procedure of the Climate campaign makes an example of how it should be performed. Concerning how marketing communications connects to the overall strategic direction, the SNRA has a corporate mission and corporate objectives that can set direction. However, too many managers ask for the main thread. According to this study, there is a gap between corporate strategies and marketing communications. A marketing strategy does not even exist. It might be on its way and all managers welcome its main elements: segmentation, targeting and positioning.

The managerial implications suggested from this study do not just involve managers of communication and information. It involves all mangers responsible for carrying out the mission of the SNRA, and especially those responsible for coordinating the marketing mix: the products, the services and the values the SNRA offers. The improvements of the marketing communications process will not only benefit marketing communication.

Author: Akerlund, Per

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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