Marketing communications are messages and related media used to communicate with the target market. It involves all the traditional forms of promotion including advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, publicity and public relations. It also includes all points of contact between the organization and other stakeholders. Jefkins, F. W., (1982).
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Marketing communication originally focused on the conception and implementation of printed marketing security; but this has changed in recent times through research to include the use strategic tools of branding and marketing in order to ensure dependability of message delivery throughout an organization. Holm, O. (1998), The change from customer service to customer relations and the change from human resources to human solutions are as a result of revolution in marketing communication. In branding, opportunities to contact stakeholders are called brand touchpoints. Etzel, M.J., Walker, B.J., & Stanton, W.J. (2004).
The development of the international marketing plan covers the same dimensions as those of domestic planning process. Kotler, P. (2003),
Integrated marketing communication
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a planning process build up to ensure that all product contacts received by a customer of a product or service, are relevant to that person and the same over time.
Littler, D., Leverick, F. (2004) It can also be defined as a holistic approach to promote buying and selling in the digital economy which comprises both online and offline marketing channels
Online marketing channels incorporates e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to most recent web related channels for webinar, blog, RSS, podcast, and Internet TV. On the other hand Offline marketing channels are customary print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relations, industry analyst relations billboard, radio, and television. Schultz, Don E. (1999),
Integrated Marketing Communication is more than the harmonization of a company’s departing message between different media and the uniformity of the message throughout. It is a marketing plan that is aggressive and that captures and utilizes an extensive amount of customer information in setting and tracking marketing strategy.
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Moreover very few organizations have been able to change over to IMC from stand alone marketing efforts. But those organizations which have transformed themselves towards this arrangement are enjoying the rewards in terms of higher returns from investment in marketing activities, increase in brand’s equity and increased market share. Examples include companies like McDonalds, Logitech International, and Hyatt Regency.
IMC is bringing in a new period in which marketers combine communication messages across all available media channels into an uninterrupted brand experience. Low, George S. (2000), As part of a successful integrated marketing strategy, IMC combines public relations, social media advertising, online, and other communications variables into one solid entity all sharing the same message.
The means to effective integration is the cohesiveness between various marketing messages, and the understanding that marketing is essentially a conversation between a company and its prospective customer. Preston, Christopher (2000), It is not one specific marketing campaign or press release; rather, how the blending and execution of such disciplines express a message synergistically, and at every possible customer touch point.
IMC includes the various tools such as advertising, public relations, personal selling, sales promotion, direct & database marketing, sponsorship, event marketing, social media marketing, and online marketing (search, banner advertising, affiliate, etc.) Pickton, D., Broderick, A. (2001),
The success of advertising is to a large extent dependent on the cultural and linguistic attitudes of the target population.Advertising often uses informal language which may have limited understanding across national precincts and is rarely capable of being translated effectively. Petty, R.E., Cacioppo, J.R., & Schumann, D. (1983). To be successful advertising must draw from and be part of culture sharing the language and values of the target audiences. Unfortunately global brands like coke have build up universal arguments based on the common imagery lifestyle concepts and heroes.
The company needs to choose a medium(s) that gets the desired message to the target audience where they are likely to be ready to receive it. Advertising has several benefits for the advertiser. First the advertiser has control over the message. The advert and its message are prepared to meet the specifications of the advertiser. Therefore the advertiser can channel its message to a huge number of potential consumers in a single hit, at a relatively low cost per head. Percy, L., Rossiter, J., Elliot, R. (2002),
Advertising is swift when compared to other elements of the marketing communications mix (for example personal selling, where the whole sales force would require to be briefed, recruited or even trained). Therefore an advertiser has the opportunity to communicate with all (or many of) its target audience concurrently.
Advertising can be a useful tool in the mix, and provides good exposure. It can produce top-of-mind awareness, and draw prospects close to begin a conversation with the company that can lead to sales. With IMC, advertising gives people contact to you through a web site or phone number listed in the advertisement. Unless advertising leads quantifiably to an interaction or dealings with the company, it is seen as wasteful by most enterprises today. Thus IMC can use advertising to entice someone to check out a website, for example, but not make the commitment of exposing themselves to a salesperson.
This has been the impediment of advertising in the past: the ad either must be so forceful that it drives a hot prospect to your door, or it simply creates awareness of you or your product. By reducing the risk of disclosure and commitment (from the prospect’s perspective), and placing value and personalization in each interaction, the prospect is enticed into a relationship and transaction. Advertising can be a useful signboard that leads to the company entrance and finally to the cash register. Aaker & Biel, (1993), & Wells, (2000)
Branding is the creation of identification of the company or product, what it stands for, and a constructive relationship in the target’s consciousness and is a very important element in marketing. It should be consistent throughout the IMC promotions. Foltner, K., & Mansfield, B. (2006). Coca-Cola has a characteristic look (the cursive writing, the shape of their old bottle), and is identifiable even all over the world. This put together with their ad campaigns; they create a happy recognition everywhere. Soerensen, Ralph Z. & Wiechman, Ulrich E. (1975),
Excellent communication depends upon an exchange. Each party must offer something of value, as perceived by the other, and they must be willing to exchange. With IMC, part of the value the company needs to gain from your prospect or customer is information about them, and a way to continue communications beyond an initial exchange. When the right incentive is created the prospects will provide the desired information. Tracking the information, building the marketing effort to meet their need will most likely lead to a transcendental relationship. Aaker, D. A. & Joachimsthaler, E. (2000).
Today many customers are online and companies that embrace IMC use the suitable methods to reach and retain them. Integrated Internet marketing strategy is where the money is today – blogs, search marketing and optimization are driving qualified traffic to websites and getting responses from the millions of internet users on a daily basis. Coca-Cola utilizes online media for a range of purposes including building brand knowledge, motivating trial, and of course, express reactions. Porter, M.E. (2001),
In New Delhi the Coca-Cola’s brand campaign for the 2007 summer extended to the new media platforms including www.myenjoyzone.com. It is a one stop interactive, online destination for Coca-Cola consumers in India. The innovative internet platform has over 4 Lac+ registered users, in the age band of 19-24 yrs. The site is extremely contemporary in its appeal and supports multi user capabilities to address all the key youth passions- be it music, gaming, cricket and movies
The company web site should be available at all times, and should provide relevant information. Shepard, David (1999), Coca-Cola posted the scripts for its Vanilla Coke ads on its site, with an open offer to consumers that they can make their own commercial and win $10,000. Further, the winning commercial was to be posted on Coke’s own website: the brand and brand experience will truly be interpreted by a customer.
Although this goes back to the half-century-old practice of asking consumers to write taglines, it also goes far beyond it. When a commercial is officially placed on the website it is a whole new level of customer involvement in how the brand communicates. At the end of the day, of course, Coke still decides what speaks for the brand – but it is doing so more than ever in the language of the consumer. Since the purpose of marketing is to generate revenue, increase market share, drive preference to purchase, and/or build brand awareness, marketers need to find ways to do this effectively; and embracing an integrated marketing strategy is the first step.Wimmer, R. D. & Domminick, J. R., (2003).
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The concept of IMC involves two fundamental aspects; stability of positioning, message and tone across all different media the simultaneous achievement of several specific marketing goals.
Goal of Integrated Marketing Communication
Integrated Marketing Communication is a management concept that is intended to make all the fundamentals of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations work together as a united force, rather than allowing each to work in separation.
Thus the purpose of integrated marketing communication is to generate and maintain a single look message in all elements of a marketing campaign.
A successful integrated marketing communication plan will customize what is needed for the client based on time, budget and resources to reach target or goals.
Reasons for the growth of IMC
There have been several changes in the advertising and media industry that have resulted in IMC becoming a most important strategy for most advertisers
- Shift from media advertising to several forms of communication (including promotions, product placements, mailers…)
- Shift from mass media to more specialized media, which are cantered on exact target audiences.
- The shift from a market dominated by manufacturer to a one that is dominated by the retailer. This shows the market control has gone into the hands of the Consumer.
- The shift from a general-focus advertising and marketing to data-based marketing.
- Shift from little agency responsibility to greater agency accountability. Agencies nowadays play a larger task in advertising than ever before.
- The shift from traditional compensation to performance-based compensation. This motivates people to do better because they are rewarded for the increase in sales or benefits they cause to the company.
- Shift from inadequate Internet access to widespread Internet accessibility. This means that people have access to what they want 24/7 and that the advertisers can also target different people 25 hours a day. Webster, Frederick E., Jr. (1998),
Benefits of IMC
Although a lot of effort is needed in Integrated Marketing Communications it also brings many benefits. It can generate competitive advantage, increase sales and profits, while saving money, time and strain. Schultz, Don E., (1993),
IMC covers communications around customers and facilitates them move through the different stages of the buying process. The organization concurrently consolidates its image; build ups a dialogue and fosters its relationship with customers.
This Relationship Marketing bolsters an attachment of loyalty with customers which can guard them from the expected assault of competition. The ability to keep a customer for life is an authoritative competitive advantage.
IMC also boosts profits through increased effectiveness. At its most central level, an integrated message has more impact than disorganized innumerable number of messages. In a hectic world, a consistent, consolidated and crystal clear message has a better probability of cutting through the noise of over five hundred commercial messages which barrage customers each and every day.
On another note primary research proposes that images shared in advertising and direct mail improves both advertising awareness and mail shot replies. So IMC can boost sales by stretching messages across several communications tools to create more opportunities for customers to become aware, stimulated, and eventually, to make a purchase
Cautiously connected messages also assist buyers by giving instant reminders, renewed information and unique offers which, when presented in a planned progression, help them move comfortably through the stages of their buying process… and this reduces their misery of choice in a multifaceted and hectic world.
IMC also makes messages more reliable and therefore more realistic. This diminishes the risk in the mind of the buyer which, in turn, cuts down the search process and helps to dictate the effect of brand evaluations.
Un-integrated communications drive disjointed messages which weaken the impact of the message. This may also confound, discourage and provoke nervousness in customers. On the other hand, integrated communications present a comforting sense of order. Phelps, Joeseph, T. E. Harris, and E. Johnson (1996),
Reliable descriptions and appropriate, helpful, messages help cultivate a long term association with customers. In this case customer databases can identify exactly which customers require what information when… and during their whole buying life.
Lastly, IMC saves money as it abolishes repetition in areas such as graphics and photography since they can be distributed and used in say, advertising, demonstrations and sales literature. Agency bills are trimmed down by using a single agency for all contacts and in case there are several agencies, time is saved when meetings bring all the agencies together – for seminars, innovative sessions, tactical or strategic planning. This eases workload and consequently stress levels – one of the many benefits of IMC.
Barriers to IMC
Notwithstanding its many advantages, Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, has many difficulties.
Besides the usual resistance to change and the special difficulty of communicating with an extensive array of target audiences, there are many other impediments which restrict IMC. These include: Functional Silos; subdued Creativity; Time Scale disagreements and a lack of Management experience. Kitchen, Philip J. and Don. E. Schultz (1999),
Take functional silos. Unbending organizational structures are infested with managers who protect both their budgets and their power support.
Sorrowfully, some organizational structures detach communications, data, and even managers from one another. For instance the PR department frequently doesn’t report to marketing. The sales force hardly ever meets the advertising or sales promotion people and so on. Envisage what can occur when sales reps are not told about a new promotional offer!
And all of this can be provoked by turf wars or internal supremacy battles where definite managers oppose having some of their decisions (and budgets) established or even manipulated by someone from another department.
The two most difficult questions are what should a truly integrated marketing department look like? And how will it affect creativity?
It ought not matter whose original idea it is, but frequently, it does. An advertising agency may not be so passionate about developing a creative idea produced by, say, a PR or a direct marketing consultant.
IMC can limit creativity. No more wild and crazy sales promotions if they do not fit into the largely marketing communications strategy. The joy of widespread creativity may be stifled, but the inventive challenge may be greater and eventually more satisfying when operating within a rigid, integrated, creative brief.
Integrated Marketing Plan
A victorious integrated marketing communication plan will adapt what is needed for the customer according to time, budget and resources to arrive at target or goals. Small business can establish an integrated marketing communication plan on a small budget using a website, email and SEO. Large Corporation can create an integrated marketing communication plan on a large budget using print, mail order, radio, TV plus many other online ad campaigns.
The three stages of an integrated plan
It is not rational to imagine a multichannel cataloguer to go from customary segmentation to a fully integrated contact strategy suddenly. There is need to mitigate into an integrated marketing plan though a three-stage approach: simple segmentation, advanced segmentation, and marketing mix modelling.
Stage one: simple segmentation
This presumes that you can add a simple level of segmentation to have or not to have an e-mail address on file for the customer to the existing methodology. The matching segmentation that’s always worked stays integral, with one added crease. As a substitute of launching e-mail campaigns to tens or hundreds of thousands of customers under one single campaign code or a handful of preview codes, the same segmentation practices for your e-mails are used just as in your print mailings, and can appraise response down to the segment level. Peltier, James W. and John A. Schibrowsky (1997),
When the period is complete, response is not measured on profitability solely for the e-mail promotion or the catalogue campaign but relatively for the entire communication string — all e-mails, catalogs, postcards, and everything else that added to those orders. Schultz, Don E. and Scott Bailey (Forthcoming, 2003), This becomes less important whether X e-mail or Y catalogue trooped the sale; the issue is put on two more-essential questions: How much was used up to get each order, and how cost-effective was each order when it came in? All correlated costs for a segment are reflected one against all associated sales.
No longer are e-mail campaigns computed separately against catalogue mailings and decisions made, perhaps incorrectly, that “the catalogue is no longer necessary, because e-mail is working so well.” Instead a truer representation of the whole performance is assessed based on the absolute set of links to a customer group. Shannon, C.E., Weaver, W. (1949),
Stage two: advanced segmentation
Applying an added progressed segmentation model to your multichannel business means moving from traditional RFM, frequency of purchases, and monetary spending levels dictate the classification of customers, to a plan where RFM is improved, particularly by channel. While RFM variables alone may decide how profound and how recurrent a file is mailed, CRFM (“C” representing purchase channel) looks initially at channel to verify the sequence and kind of communications (catalogs, e-mails, postcards, etc.). Ludlow; F. Panton. (1992)
There are two questions to tackle for each customer regarding purchase channel: through which channel did he make his first purchase, and through which channel did he make his most recent purchase? Then inquire if the first acquisition was compelled by a mailed catalogue or an online marketing endeavour. If you recognize that the customer was mailed a catalogue as a prospect but answered through the Web, it’s apparent that even though the customer is an online buyer, he still reacts positively to catalogue mailings.
If the same customer is a multi-user and has at all times countered through the Web, the temptation might be not to mail him again. This could be an oversight shunned by evaluating what drove that first channel purchase. Peppers, Don (2002),
If a customer is a catalogue responder or has responded to a catalogue mailing by phone or mail at any time during his life on your file, the mailings are taking part in his responsiveness, so he should be put on a communication plan that incorporates both e-mail and catalogue mailings. Clients obtained through online marketing efforts who have only ever responded by way of the Web may very well be candidates for far fewer catalogue mailings without a significant drop in performance. McArthur, D N., & Griffin, T., (1997).
Stage three: marketing mix modelling
Marketing mix modelling constructs on the notions of media blend modelling that are used by advertisers to establish the most successful frequency and fighting of space, television, radio, mailings, and other media. Wells et al., (2000) & Payne and Holt, (2001) By factoring for when communications are placed into the market and how reply comes in and goes out accordingly, you can take a more mathematical approach to projecting reaction.
A multivariate approach, marketing blend modelling takes into account the typical RFM variables along with first and most recent purchase channel, purchase frequency by channel, e-mail type by response (for instance, if a customer responds to promotional e-mail but doesn’t buy online otherwise), monetary by channel (cumulative and average), and more. Working with a qualified modelling company or a database co-op to determine the right channel mix can add a significant level of difficulty to any direct marketer’s contact strategy. Kitchen, P J., (1999).
Test and measure
The majority multichannel marketers will discover themselves capable of executing stages one and two with relative simplicity. Still, there’s no magical answer that says, “Mailing eight times and e-mailing 46 times is the perfect mix.” The answer is to investigate the various contact strategies against one another with apparent goals and control measurements. Young, Charles E., (2000) By means of sample sizes from which dependable results can be acquired, generate hold-out and frequency tests with a variety of combinations of catalogue and e-mail campaigns. The objective should be to discover the marketing mix that generates the highest level of sales and the lowest cost and maximum profit. In other words, the goal is to make the most of sales and ROI concurrently.
By generating a unique, relevant, and enduring brand position and developing a solid understanding of your customers’ purchasing behaviours, you give yourself perhaps the most important tool of all: a fighting chance. The function of the catalogue may be shifting, but the prospect for the multichannel merchant is as strong as ever when integrated with brand and executed through an absolute appreciation of the information. Gronstedt, A., & Thorson, E., (1996).
The integrated marketing communications plan must have a target budget and resources assigned to each element of the plan. Depending on the size of the budget, their might be the need to make trade-offs between methods to achieve the desired goals. In addition, there is need to have the internal or external resources aligned to carry out the plan. Schultz, D.E., Tannenbaum, S.I., & Lauterborn, R.F. (1996).
A good marketing communications plan can take the company marketing efforts to the next level. Test what works and feed the information back into the plan.
Advertising and other forms of promotion are an important part of the marketing process in many organizations. Over the years, the amount of money spent on advertising, Sales promotion, direct marketing, and other forms of marketing communication has risen enormously, across the nations.
To comprehend the role of advertising and promotion in a marketing program, one must understand the role and function of marketing in an organization. The fundamental mission of marketing is to combine the four controllable elements known as the marketing mix, into an all-inclusive program that makes exchange with a target market possible. The elements of the marketing mix are the product or service, price, place (distribution), and promotion.
For several years, the promotional function in most companies was dominated by mass-media advertising. However, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of integrated marketing communications, coordinating the various marketing and promotional elements to achieve more resourceful and successful communication programs.
There are a number of issues that have inspired marketers to move toward IMC as well as ad agencies and other promotional facilitators. Reasons for the growing importance of the integrated marketing communications sensitivity include a speedily changing environment with reverence to consumers, technology, and media. The IMC progress is also being driven by transformations in the ways companies market their products and services. A reallocation in marketing dollars from advertising to sales promotion, the rapid growth and development of database marketing, and the fragmentation of media markets are among the key changes taking place.
Promotion plays a vital role in marketing communication. It is accomplished through a promotional mix that includes advertising, personal selling, publicity/public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing, and interactive/Internet marketing. The intrinsic advantages and disadvantages of each of these promotional-mix elements influence the functions they play in the general marketing program in developing the IMC programs. The marketer must settle on which tools to use and how to mingle them to achieve the organization’s marketing and communication objectives. Promotional management entails coordinating the promotional-mix elements to develop an integrated program of effective marketing communication.
The execution of integrated marketing is indispensable in today’s market place. Consumers are presented with tonnes of information from thousands of different advertisers each day. It has developed into a custom to discard messages that have no constructive appeal to a particular need or attention. On the other hand, marketers should ensure that they are doing everything feasible to reach these consumers at a time when they are interested in value proposition. This requires that the message has to be where the consumers are looking all the time.
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