INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION
The spirit of this essay is to do a diagnosis of the subject matter, integrated marketing communications (IMC). This essay will do a prognosis of what integrated marketing communications is, and subsequently a foray shall be made into the constituents of the subject matter.
What is Integrated Marketing Communication? .
Marketing communication is an integral part of the marketing programme for most companies and organisations. Though marketing communication is just a tip of marketing, it is worth recognizing that much of marketing involves communication activities. Once they have developed products and services, organizations must communicate the value and benefits of the offerings to both current and potential customers in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer. Therefore IMC is employed as a machinery to deliver a consistent message to its buyers. In order to understand what IMC is, it is apt to appreciate the individual words that make up this phrase.
Integration: A combination of parts or objects that work together well. (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2009)
Marketing: It is a set of activities whereby business and other organisation create transfers of value (exchange) between themselves and their customers (Advertising Promotion, Terrence .A. Shimp, 2000)
Another school of thought defines marketing as, the activity, set of institutions delivering and exchanging offering that have value for customers, clients, partners or society at large. Value is the customer’s perception of all the benefits of a product or service weighted against all the cost acquiring or consuming it (Advertising and Promotion, G. Belch & M. Belch, 2006, page 9). It is worth noting that these two schools of thought crystallise at a point – marketing aims at exchange of value.
Communication: The process of receiving and sending messages and it occurs whenever we express ourselves in a manner that is clearly understood. (Communication Matters, McCutchen, Schaffer, Wycoff, 1994)
Having elucidated the words integration, marketing and communication, we now take a critical look at integrated marketing communication (IMC). IMC involves the coordination of various promotional elements and other marketing activities that communicate with a firm’s customers. (Advertising and Promotion, G. Belch & M. Belch, 2006)
IMC is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines –general advertising, direct response, sales promotion,and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact (Caywood, Schultz, and Wang, 1991b: 2-3).
In other words IMC focuses on marshalling all forms of promotion such as advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, publicity, sponsorship marketing and point of sale for effective communication. Thus it goes beyond the use of traditional media in marketing. The advent of the new media has augmented IMC. However for the purpose of this essay we shall concentrate on the above mentioned forms of the IMC.
FORMS OF INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION
Advertising is defined as any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services through the mass media and with an identifiable sponsor (as evidenced in the above adverts). It can either be text, picture or motion advert. Advertising is mostly employed in the promotion mix because it has the advantage of reaching out to countless people at the same and has the tendency of relatively having the same effect on its audience if well communicated. It informs, educates and persuades customers to purchase new brands of a product and reminds customers to keep the brand fresh in their mind.
Sales promotion is generally defined as the marketing activities that provide extra value or incentives to the sales force, distributers or the ultimate consumer and can stimulate immediate sales. (Advertising and Promotion, G. Belch & M. Belch, 2006) It can either be consumer oriented (e.g. couponing, sampling, premiums and rebates) or trade oriented targeting wholesalers, distributors and retailers. (E.g. price deals, sales contest and trade shows) Sales promotion usually temporally changes the perceived value or price of the product or service. A crystal example of sales promotion in Ghana is ‘buy one get one free’ promotions run by enterprises such ‘Shoprite’ and ‘Melcom’.
Publicity shares similar characteristics with advertising. But unlike advertising it is usually not paid for and not run under any identifiable sponsor. It assumes the form of news or editorial comments about the company’s product or activities. Companies or organisations attempt to get media coverage for their activities because the media considers the information news worthy. For instance, media coverage on co-operate social responsibility activities of a company doubles as an opportunity for that company to market itself. It is one affordable form of marketing.
Have you ever taken time off to cogitate over the reason(s) why Coca-Cola and Guinness Companies would sponsored events such as the 2010 world cup? They were engaged in sponsorship marketing. The world cup provided a large flat form for them to disseminate information about their products to a lot of people. Sponsorship marketing is the practice of promoting the interests of a company and its brands or one of its brands with a specific event which comes with a large based audience and would project the company in lime-light. The failure or success of the event sponsored can either dent or accentuate the reputation of the sponsor. That notwithstanding it is one effective means of marketing.
It is a form of person to person communication whereby sales people inform, educate and persuade prospective buyers to purchase a company’s product or services. It offers high customer attention; the sales person is able to customise the message to meet the customer’s specific interests; it also grants the company the opportunity to get immediate feedback from customers on goods and services and subsequently it leads to a long term relationship between the company and customer. However it is a relatively costly form of marketing because it only communicates with one or a few people at a time.
Point of Purchase Communication
This engulfs displays, posters, signs and a variety of other materials that are designed to influence buying decisions at the point of purchase. Such messages usually carry a voice of urgency to propel customers to purchase those goods or services.
It is worth recognising that all the above mentioned forms are not mutually exclusive of each other and cannot stand alone in performing the task of marketing. They have to be interlaced for effective marketing to be done.
· Terence .A. Shimp: Advertising Promotion (5th ed.) 2000
· G. Belch & M. Belch: Advertising and Promotion (8th ed.)
· McCutchen, Schaffer, Wycoff: Communication Matters (1994)