The car manufacturing industry in the United States of America is quite competitive as the business environment in the country has transformed significantly. For foreign car manufacturing company to thrive in the United States market, a lot of marketing strategy considerations ought to be made particularly regarding the marketing communications plan. Owing to the fact that the marketing communication plan entails the company’s communication with the target audience, it is imperative for the company to consider the cultural, social and other environmental factors in the United States. This is necessitated by the actuality that in spite of the fact that marketing is inherently an economic affair, communicating with potential customers is something that borders on culture, society and environment. In the process of developing a sound marketing communication plan, the car manufacturer will be required to compare the international promotion mix that dictates the entire marketing process and also develop a succinct strategy that will guide its marketing endeavours (Kotler et al 2008, p. 7).
The United States automobile market is driven by different needs and requirements that often alter the marketing landscape of major companies. Since the automobile needs of users have changed with time, a comprehensive market survey will inform the car manufacturer’s approach to marketing. Such a survey will reveal exactly what the customers expect from the car manufacturers. The five established tools of marketing that include direct marketing, public relations, advertising, personal selling and sales promotion will play an important role in market communication, but advancement in information technology will require the company to invest more time and effort in contemporary media and appropriate messages for marketing communication (Selden, 1997, p. 23).
There are a number of theories that govern the development of marketing communication plan. They include; Theory of Hierarchy of Effects, marketing myopia theory, push theory, pull theory and combination theory. These theories underscore the practice of marketing particularly with regard to strategy and marketing communication plan (Kotler & Armstrong, 2005, p. 45).
A successful marketing communication plan is informed by a comprehensive marketing strategy. According to Whittington (2001, p.23) there are four dimensions to strategy namely; classical, evolutionary, proceduralist and systemic. Classical, which represent the oldest dimension, refers to the logical planning approach laid out in textbooks. Evolutionary underscores the gradual development of marketing as a dynamic approach. Procesualist, on the other hand, denotes strategy as a process of organizations and marketing. Systemic dimension concerns the essence of strategy as a process of achieving some desired goals in marketing that are closely connected to the influences and cultures of social systems in places where it is applied (Whittington 2001, p. 23).
International Promotion Mix
Describing the International Promotion Mix
According to the theory of Hierarchy of Effects, customers navigate through a step by step process as they obtain marketing information in the course of making a marketing decision. This theory determines the operations of the international promotion mix. In essence, the international promotion mix refers to the relevant elements that underscore the marketing communication tools used in international marketing. The basic tools that form the promotion mix include direct marketing, public relations, advertising, personal selling and sales promotion. The international promotion mix, therefore, implies the blend of promotional endeavours to facilitate sales as well as boost brand equity (Wood & Masterman 2012, p. 134).
Marketing communications mix entails three ingredients: messages, tools and media. The tools can be applied in various blends and different measures of passion to communicate with an intended audience. The contemporary outlook of the marketing communications mix stipulates that the mix consists of tools, media and messages. The fundamental tools include advertisement, sales promotion, among others. The six categories of media include digital media, in-store media, broadcast, print along with other media. Messages are classified into two, namely informational and emotional (Piercy & Cravens 2005, p. 32).
There have been several major changes in the business environment that have altered the way in which businesses communicate with the intended audiences significantly. Advanced technology, for instance, has led to the development of diverse media as people devise different methods of using their leisure time (Piercy & Cravens 2005, p. 41). Such developments have critically altered the way in which corporations conduct communication with the market specifically because of the new avenues of communications that require newer versions of tools, media and messages to suit the changes. This set of combinations and alteration strategies have led to the development of the contemporary outlook of the marketing communications mix (Piercy & Cravens 2005, p. 45). The use of direct response has gained popularity in the prevalence of direct marketing for a number of products. In essence, the internet along with other digital technologies has facilitated novel interactive methods of communication where receivers have their share of responsibility in the course of communication.
The conventional promotion mix has undergone a great metamorphosis. Initially, brands were created via the application of advertisement to create top of the line bunch communication campaigns. The method involved purchasing time for advertisements in popular programmes on television. Another scheme was that of purchasing space in newspapers along with magazines; under this strategy, media owners required to create programs that attracted huge audiences in order to fetch more money through advertisements. However, things have changed as people no longer rely on television and newspapers for entertainment and information since several other forms of media have evolved. Research indicates the audiences use media for several purposes that include to share, discover, express themselves and participate (University of Leicester 2008 p. 4).
Modern-day consumers have diverse options to choose from regarding leisure and media endeavours. Similarly, today’s consumers choose the time and the manner in which they consume entertainment and information. In fact, consumers have the ability to create their own messages, information and entertainment via several ways that include video, text and music. Owing to these myriad changes, the key in communicating to clients is no longer tools but messages and media. Modern organizations ought to give more consideration to the medium used for communication along with the message for purposes of promotion. When selecting the media to be used organizations ought to consider the ease in reaching target consumers. This will enable them to select the most viable as well as appropriate media for purposes of communication (Banasiewicz 2009, p. 32).
The message should address the relevant attributes of the product or service being marketed. For instance, a car manufacturing company may develop a message that informs the audience about the types of motor vehicles produced by the company regarding their nature, usability, durability, quality and maintenance. Such details are informative and educate the user on the product and how to use it. Emotional messages for car manufacturer may include sentimental details about the fancy, comfort, luxury and fantasy of owning a car that inspires the audience to buy the cars being manufactured by the company. Modern marketing communication, therefore, includes personalized and highly targeted communication endeavours that apply direct marketing, which suits the new business environment (Adcock & Ross 2001, p. 15).
The Constituents of the Mix
The marketing myopia theory stipulates that marketers ought to consider market tastes and alter the corporation’s products and services rather than concentrating on the company. This implies that the car manufacturer will have to consider what the market wants, their tastes and needs and develop vehicles that serve the necessary requirements of the market. The requirements of the market are the top priority of many marketing communication plans and strategies through which the promotion endeavours are designed to address the very tastes of the customer (Kurtz 2010, p. 23-27). Theodore Levitt who authored the theory argues that customers are the mainstay to the company and therefore they should be given first priority. Any marketing communication plan that does not inculcate the needs and requirements of the customer cannot bear any fruits for the organization. In its endeavour to venture into car manufacturing in the United States, the car manufacturer should conduct a market survey, understand the requirements of the market and alter the products to suit those requirements.
According to Dev and Schultz (2005, p.16-22) the international promotion mix involves three major components namely; tools, messages and media. Tools have been given much weight among the three because it is through them that the message is delivered to the market via selected media. The tools include;
- Direct marketing
- Public relations
- Personal selling
- Sales promotion
The push theory of sales promotion stipulates that the company markets the products to a retailer who then automatically promotes them to the customers. This theory uses the intermediary technique in promoting goods whereby the company does not promote the goods to the customer directly rather it focuses on marketing the goods to a retailer and once the retailer purchases the merchandise it is upon him to promote them to the customers. This represents a participative approach to sales promotion, which offers the retailer a role in marketing the products of the company. The car manufacturer can find this kind of theory useful in the sense that he can promote the vehicles to dealers who will then promote them to the customers. Under this type of marketing, advertisements and market promotions are the most reliable tools (Rajagopal 2007, p. 67).
The pull theory of sales promotion refers to the direct process of marketing where the car manufacturer locates the customer and markets the products to them. This style of promotion and advertisement is extensive and costly because a lot of time, effort and money has to be invested in it for better results. The company’s sales force must travel extensively to promote the products to the end-users.
The combination theory appropriately suits the car manufacturer in a bid to market motor vehicles in the United States. This involves supplying a car dealer with vehicles where they are offered to the customers with inducements for shopping with them. This strategy is very common among automobile companies that use buyback strategies to induce sales (Hollensen 2011, p. 56).
Kotler and Keller (2012, p.29) assert that the message is another crucial component in the process of developing a sound marketing communication plan. This often involves the development of the content of the promotion process. Once the message has been created the media and tools will follow suit. Among the three constituents of the promotion mix, the message is the most important owing to the fact that the tools and media transmit the message, and it is the message that carries the crucial information needed by the customer in the process of making a buying decision. Therefore, great care ought to be taken in the process of developing the message to ensure that the marketing process achieves the required goal. The nature of the message determines whether the marketing process is successful or not because the message underscores the real intention of the marketing process. If the media selected is appropriate and tools are effective, and the message is ineffective then the whole process is a failure (Paliwoda & Ryans 2008, p.461-2).
Kotler and Keller (2012, p.31-34) further argue that messages can be of two types; informational or emotional. Emotional messages are those that are appealing to senses and motivate the customer to make a buying decision at the spur of the moment. Emotional messages are laced with sentimental tones that present the beautiful aspect of the product creating a desire in the mind of the customer. Emotional messages are often based on fantasy associated with the product being marketed along with the luxury, comfort and prestige associated with the same (Smith et al 2010, p. 87-90).
Informational messages carry the bulk of information regarding the product being marketed that offers the customer with an understanding of the nature of products and their uses. Informational messages usually help the customer to make a decision on whether he or she needs the product or not. Depending on the nature of the information given the customers can decide whether they want the products or not (University of Leicester 2008, p.3).
The foreign car manufacturer’s endeavour to join the United States market will be governed by several parameters most of which are prescribed in the relevant theories of marketing, sales promotion, marketing communication plan and international marketing mix. In order for the car manufacturer to be successful in the United States market, he has to adhere to the following recommendations;
The car manufacturer ought to understand the business environment of the United States before developing a marketing strategy and marketing communication plan. The marketing endeavours should be informed by a clear understanding of the business environment in the United States. According to the marketing myopia theory, the key factor should be the requirements and needs of the customer and not the potential of the company. In developing a marketing message for the United States customers, the manufacturer should understand the economic, social and cultural dimensions of America’s business environment in terms of what Americans want from car manufacturers (Onkvisit, & Shaw 2004, p. 3). The car manufacturer should also select appropriate media through which marketing communication will be done. The best media is one that reaches the target audience in large numbers at the same time.
The manufacturer ought to develop educative, informative and appealing messages that will be effective in convincing the customers to make buying decisions. Appealing messages attract sales while educative and informative messages inform the customers about the importance of purchasing the products (Joshi 2005, p. 67).
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