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How Consumers Create Barriers
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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According to the new communications model, the one-way, or "single bullet," way of sending a message and being heard is no longer relevant. That communication model requires the original sender to be open to feedback so the sender can realize, even faster, how effective their message may have been.

Unfortunately for many marketers, their messages are falling on deaf (or turned off) ears. Yes, it seems that consumers are doing a pretty good job of turning away from the advertising messages prevalent in our society. If we want our brands to stand out, what barriers must we overcome?

Today we are going to cover four major barriers to communication.*

1. Selective Exposure
We are seeing this barrier more and more as consumers flock toward the fragmented web and streaming options and away from traditional television and media offerings. Consumers choose which messages to listen to instead of being a captive audience.

2. Selective Perception
This is a barrier that marketers need to be aware of. It can be self-inflicted if we don't provide a clear enough message or call to action. This barrier is built when consumers do in fact receive the message, yet they infer, based on their own thoughts and experiences, what the message means. This is where marketers and brands can get into issues and messages can be taken the wrong way.

3. Post-Purchase Dissonance
This is similar to cognitive dissonance. It's when the feelings the consumer had when they bought the product are different by the time the brand is trying to connect to the consumer. Marketers have little influence in this sphere, but keeping tabs on how their target market changes throughout time can help.

4. Psychological Noise
It's all about the clutter. Like we said in the beginning, due to all the messaging going on in our consumption environment, many consumers would rather shut everything off than comb through the clutter to find relevant information.

There you have it. Once we identify the right or biggest barrier to our communicating with the consumer, we will be much better off in the long run.

*Lecture notes from 2007, Prof. Garber, Elon U.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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