9 communication models

In this article, I list 9 communication models that can help you develop effective communication and craft good messages.

Summary of this article

  1. The art of communicating: Claude Shannon and Waren Weaver's macromodel (1949)
  2. The art of crafting good communication campaigns and good messages: the micromodels
    • E. K. Strong's AIDA micromodel (1925)
    • Robert J. Lavidge and Gary A. Steiner's Hierarchy-of-Effects micromodel (1961)
    • Everett M. Rogers' Innovation-Adoption micromodel (1962)
    • Communications micromodel
    • Derek Rucker's 4 A's micromodel
    • The 5 A's micromodel
  3. The art of storytelling
    • Kevin Rogers' "persona joke formula" or "60-second sales hook"
    • Michael Hauge's 6-step success stories

1) The art of communicating: Claude Shannon and Waren Weaver's macromodel (1949)

Claude Shannon and Waren Weaver's macromodel is a model used to represent the standard steps of any form of effective commmunication. This is the fundamental model to rely on.

Source: Marketing Management, by Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, 15th Edition (Global Edition), Pearson, Chapter 19, page 585.

There are 9 key factors to take into account. Two represent the major parties: sender and receiver. Two represent the major tools: message and media. Four represent major communication functions: encoding, decoding, response, and feedback. The last element in the system is noise, random and competing messages that may interfere with the intended communication.

Senders must know what audiences they want to reach and what responses they want to get. They must encode their messages so the target audience can successfully decode them. They must transmit the message through media that reach the target audience and develop feedback channels to monitor the responses. The more the sender's field of experience overlaps that of the receiver, the more effective the message is likely to be. Note that selective attention, distortion, and retention processes may be operating.

2) The art of crafting good communication campaigns and good messages: the micromodels

Micromodels of communication focus on the receiver's specific responses. All these models assume the user/buyer passes through cognitive, affective, and behavioral stages in that order. This "learn-feel-do" sequence is appropriate when the audience has high involvement with a product category perceived to have high differentiation, such as an automobile or house. An alternative sequence, "do-feel-learn", is relevant when the audience has high involvement but perceives little or no differentiation within the product category, such as airline tickets or personal computers. A third sequence, "learn-do-feel", is relevant when the audience has low involvement and perceives little differentiation, such as with salt or batteries. By choosing the right sequence, the marketer can do a better job of planning communications.

The micromodels can help you craft good communication campaigns and craft good messages. Communication campaigns are the messages or sequence of messages you create for your target audience. Here are some common acdemic micromodels.

E. K. Strong's AIDA micromodel (1925)

One of the earliest and widely used micromodel to describe the customer path is AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Unsurprisingly, AIDA was coined by an advertising and sales pioneer, E. St. Elmo Lewis, in the the early 1900s, and was first adopted in the fields of advertising and sales. The AIDA model was then formalized by E. K. Strong in 1925 in "The Psychology of Selling" (New York: McGraw-Hill). It serves as a simple checklist or a reminder for advertising executives when they design advertisements and for sales executives when they approach prospects. The advertising copy and sales executives when they appraoch prospects. The advertising copy and sales pitch should grab attention, initiate interest, strenghthen desire and ultimately drive action.

Cognitive stage

  • Attention
  • Interest

Affective stage

  • Desire

Behavior stage

  • Action

Robert J. Lavidge and Gary A. Steiner's Hierarchy-of-Effects micromodel (1961)

Let's assume the user/buyer has high involvement with the product category and perceives high differentiation within it. We will illustrate the hierarchy-of-effects model in the context of a marketing campaign for a small Iowa college named Pottsville.

Cognitive stage

  • Awareness. If most of the target audience is unaware of the object, the communicator's task is to build awareness. Suppose Pottsville seeks applicants from Nebraska but has no name recognition there, though 30,000 Nebraska high school juniors and seniors could be interested in it. The college might set the objective of making 70 percent of these students aware of its name within one year.
  • Knowledge. The target audience might have brand awareness but not know much more. Pottsville may want its target audience to know it is a private four-year college with excellent programs in English, foreign languages, and history. It needs to learn how many people in the target audience have little, some, or much knowledge about Pottsville. If knowledge is weak, Pottsville may select brand knowledge as its communications objective.

Affective stage

  • Liking. Given target members know the brand, how do they feel about it? If the audience looks unfavorably on Pottsville College, the communicator needs to find out why. In the case of real problems, Pottsville will need to fix these and then communicate its renewed quality. Good public relations calls for "good deeds followed by good words."
  • Preference. The target audience might like the product but not prefer it to others. The communicator must then try to build consumer preference by comparing quality, value, performance, and other features to those of likely competitors.
  • Conviction. A target audience might prefer a particular product but not develop a conviction about buying it. The communicator’s job is to build conviction and intent to apply among students interested in Pottsville College.

Behavior stage

  • Purchase. Finally, some members of the target audience might have conviction but not quite get around to making the purchase. The communicator must lead these consumers to take the final step, perhaps by offering the product at a low price, offering a premium, or letting them try it out. Pottsville might invite selected high school students to visit the campus and attend some classes, or it might offer partial scholarships to deserving students.

Everett M. Rogers' Innovation-Adoption micromodel (1962)

Cognitive stage

  • Awareness

Affective stage

  • Interest
  • Evaluation

Behavior stage

  • Trial
  • Adoption

Communications micromodel

Cognitive stage

  • Exposure
  • Reception
  • Cognitive response

Affective stage

  • Attitude
  • Intention

Behavior stage

  • Behavior

Derek Rucker's 4 A's micromodel

Similarly to the AIDA model, Derek Rucker's 4 A's model sets the customer path as follows: Aware, Attitude, Act and Act again. The four A's model is a simple model to describe the straightforward funnel-like process that customers go through when evaluating brands in their consideration sets. Customers learn about the brand (aware), like or dislike the brand (attitude), decide whether to purchase it (act), and decide whether the brand is worth a repeat pruchase (act again).

Cognitive stage

  • Aware

Affective stage

  • Attitude

Behavior stage

  • Act
  • Act again

When it is treated as a customer funnel, the number of customers going throuh the process continues to decine as they move into the next stage. People who like the brand must have known the brand before. People who purchase the brand must have liked the brand before. And so on.

The 5 A's micromodel

The 5 A's model is an updated version of the 4 A's model: Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act, Advocate.

  • A1: Aware ("I know"). Customers are passively exposed to a long list of brands from past experienc,e marketing communciations and/or advocacy of others.
  • A2: Appeal ("I like"). Customers process the messages they are exposed to - creating short-term memory or amplifying long-term-memory - and become attracted only to a short list of brands.
  • A3: Ask ("I'm convinced"). Prompted by their curiosity, customers actively research for more information from friends and family, from the media, and/or directly from the brands.
  • A4: Act ("I'm buying"). Reinforced by more information, customers decide to buy a particular brand and interact deeper through purchase, usage and/or service processes.
  • A5: Advocate ( I recommend"). Over time, customers may develop a sense of strong loyalty to the brand, which is reflected in retention, repurchase ans ultimately advocacy to others.

Cognitive stage

  • Aware

Affective stage

  • Appeal

Behavior stage

  • Ask
  • Act
  • Advocate

The macromodel and the micromodels are taken from the following sources:

  • Marketing Management, by Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, 15th Edition (Global Edition), Pearson, Chapter 19, pages 584, 585, 586
  • Marketing 4.0, by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajay and Iwan Setiawan, Wiley, pages 51 to 56.

3) The art of storytelling

Stories are probably the best format for communicating information to your target audience. Here are some models to help you create compelling stories.

Kevin Rogers' "persona joke formula" or "60-second sales hook"

Kevin Rogers was a stand-up comedian. He came up with the following formula, by deconstructing the way good jokes are told. The only difference is that the last element for comedian is surprise, whereas for marketers, it's result.

  • Identity
  • Struggle
  • Discovery
  • Result

Here is an example of how it can be used:

I'm Kevin Rogers, [Identity] I spent years as a dead-broke stand-up comedian, [Struggle] until I discovered how a simple joke formula can be used as an irresistible sales hook and began teaching marketers how to use it to skyrocket sales and grow their businesses. [Discovery] Now, I'm one of the most in-demand sales consultants online, earning more in one month than I once did in an entire year. [Result]

Michael Hauge's 6-step success stories

  • The setup
  • The crisis
  • The pursuit
  • The conflict
  • The climax
  • The aftermath

Initial publication date: 2018-09-18
Last updated: 2019-06-24


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