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Integrated Marketing communications

Abstract

The role of integrated marketing communication (IMC) is to broadcast information about the benefits of products, services or organisations with an aim of widening the sales base. It is worth noting that IMC as an aspect in marketing conveys the right significance of the organisation’s end products thus assisting the consumers to attain their goals and in addition move the firm closer to its long term objectives (Shimp, 2008). Nevertheless, faster moving consumer goods such as perishable foods get a chance to be marketed and thus penetrate even in the markets of lesser developed countries.

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is usually identified as a comprehensive field which requires numerous approaches and techniques for reaching out to different classes of consumers in the modern high technological world (Lilien, 1993). These methods may range from; underwriting, online publicizing, product assignments, branding, graphic design, as well as sponsorship among many others.

Introduction

Research has shown that for integrated marketing communication (IMC) to be successful there ought to be extensive research on how to understand the human nature in terms of tastes and preferences for various products. Kimmel (2005) views that in order to reach the target audience, a marketer ought to employ various tools such as placing advertisements in magazines, merchandising and attractive packaging, fliers as well as sending e-mails to targeted consumers.

Moreover, it is worth noting that integrated marketing communication (IMC) utilise the resources employed within a given framework. For instance, when a marketer decides to send emails notifying people about added ingredients in a certain drink, one ought to send mails to those people within the systems network but advise them to pass the information to others.

The principal goal of IMC is spread information about products and services to a distinct audience thus by doing this, a firm is able acquire new and different customers for products as well as building awareness and expanding diversity and creating new platforms for trading. In addition, Shimp (2008) notes that this aspect of integrated marketing approach maintains the current consumer base of the brands associated with the firm through supplementary information which reinforces the customers’ buying behaviour. It is worth pointing out that the tributary aim of IMC is construction of better interactions with consumers, vendors, and other imperative participants. Lilien (1993) points out that for this approach to gain success momentum, it should rely on promotional mix which includes public relations, advertising, direct marketing as well as sales promotions among other options.

The Internet has with time emerged as an influential IMC instrument for getting to certain classes of potential customers. Marketing researchers argue that possessing a website has become an important component to the integrated marketing communication (IMC) strategy of a firm. Through the internet, consumers are able to gain access to instantaneous information on services, products as well as organisations offering them thus decision making becomes an easier task.

On the other hand, the organisations benefit from using the internet a s a marketing tool in that it saves the costs of travelling and publishing materials for use by the populace. A good example of the internet as an effective tool for communication is when Sony Japan procured pre-orders of their current PlayStation 2 comfort over the net, this is said to have topped up to one million purchases after a few days (Pearce, 2009. P. 97). The expansion of the World Wide Web has transformed the business atmosphere and it is worth noting that the e-commerce revolution has placed possibilities on how to provide further efficient ways of shepherding commerce.

The creation of a integrated marketing communication (IMC)  plan is essential especially when there is need for creation of platforms and effective utilization of the numerous mechanisms in the marketing communication mix.  A business person ought to consider various factors when developing the plan. These plans range from; the type of elements that one is to employ and which ones to apply first, one also ought to pinpoint how the various elements will interrelate. Moreover, the cost of planning ought to be considered since the funds available shape the operations and outcome of the product promotion exercise thus in commerce, a communication plan should be comparatively modest and clear. Studies carried out on the effectiveness of a communication plan in marketing depict that new methods of interactive communication with the target consumer base keeps the merchant focused on important value schemes as well as extending the connection that assists one to maintain customers and create new ones too. 

Mullin (2008) argues that in integrated marketing communication (IMC), the reception of a message about products and services from a firm is usually influenced by the nature of the source. Mullin further notes that when the consumers identify the source as believable or credible, the consumers tend to embrace the information passed across. For example, the Toyota Company has built its wide consumer base through attractive and correct advertising in relation to the vehicles produced and so whenever a new model is designed, the clients’ perception is that the model is virtuous. On the other hand, when the communicator seems to be less implausible and possesses underlying motives especially ones associated to personal gains, the consumers are not persuaded to embrace the information passed across. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that a source with a high reliability perception by the customers can alter the customer opinion and preferences (Pearce, 2009).

Marketing promotions

Bovay (2008) argues that marketing promotion mix aims at creating product or brand awareness as well as communicating the exceptional value proposition of the organisation’s product which results to increased customer loyalty. In addition, Kris further notes that the prime purpose and emphasis of promotional mix is to increase the sales using the least resources available. It is worth noting that there are more than six promotion mix strategies which include; public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing, advertising, personal selling among others. Nevertheless, the most persuasive program is the one that frequently utilises a variety of techniques and tactics thus it is essential to quantify the usefulness of the program an individual in commerce participates in and adjust the promotional platform with an aim of increasing efficiency and sales.

Advertising

Advertised can be seen as a non-personal communication aimed at praising or in this case publicizing of goods and or services to the public in the interest of boosting sales. This form of promotion tends to incorporate all the aspects of a product: brand recognition and the product’s identity. Payments for advertisement are normally financed by sponsors who tend to gain in one way or another when the product sales go up. The core role of an advertisement is to increase the sales of the concerned firm. Through proper guidance to the public about a product, people will be more inclined to purchase a good or seek the services of the product being advertised (Bovay, 2008).

Advertising is informative in nature. The approach attempts to describe the details of a product to the public. It is worth noting that an advert will give the commodity’s name, which is usually the trade mark so as to distinguish it from the other competing substitute products. The advert will also let the public know where you can get that product and at what price. In addition, this technique of promotional marketing ensures that information about a good or service reaches a great number of people. The use of newspapers or television channels guarantees a wide coverage through the readers and viewers associated to those media centres (Kimmel, 2005).

Nevertheless, advertising creates an easy feeling among the consumers about a certain product embracing it as acceptable and harmless through maintaining the brand identity in the market thus instilling the consumer trust. Researchers have found this method as a persuasive and encouraging tactic that gives the public enticing reasons as to why they should try out a firm’s product in relation to products of the same nature in competition with the firm in the market. To achieve this goal, the design of that advertisement must put into consideration the psychological aspects to be utilised in order to capture the attention of the public.

However, it is worth noting that an advertisement fails to address all the personal preferences of each consumer. Nonetheless, much of information an advertisement could try to incorporate; there are some limiting factors which hinder this. This may be the time factor, the resources and the need for simplicity in an advertisement. Thus what one consumer may want to know about a product may vary from another consumer’s preference. This situation is sensitive and there is need for a firm to seek the help of experts in order to determine the information relevant and suitable to the majority of the audience. An advertisement is conclusive and may not in any way be in a position to counter the effects of a subsequent ad of a substitute competing commodity (Bovay, 2008).

Lastly, advertisements have been found to possess minimal or no control on a buyer’s final considerations on a certain product, with other forces influencing the customer and trying to alter choices or preferences. The costs incurred by a firm in order to finance the advertisement could be so high. This is a communication which is a cost intensive activity and if not well coordinated leads to firms incurring losses. Therefore this technique ought to put into consideration aspects like the market of that products and the intended audience to make the whole process cost-effective in relation to the total returns of that particular firm.

Personal selling

This is a form of communication where the supplier convinces possible buyers to buy from them. Shimp (2008) views that a supplier will seek the services of sales persons to trade the firm’s products or services and in return, get wages or commissions. In this form of communication, transactions involve a personal or direct interaction with the customer or buyer therefore becomes an advantageous tactic as personal preferences could easily be addressed. In addition, since personal selling involves close up interactions, a product can easily be introduced to the potential buyer in comprehensive details. A buyer will usually have the opportunity to ask or enquire full about all there is about that particular product or services and answers will readily be available to him or her, depending on the sales person’s familiarity with the product.

Consequently, views about a particular product to a particular buyer could easily be collected and measures taken to suit that buyer. This trait about personal selling could be fully exploited to maintain a stable supply and guaranteed purchases since the buyer may in this way build some trust to that particular seller and the purchases would be regular. Moreover, the emerging personal sales by e-mail are slowly rendering personal selling convenience, speed and diversity. It is worth noting that a sales person has the capability of handling deals from the comfort of the office or even at home provided there is a reliable internet connection within the vicinity thus the sales person can quickly handle and manage sales online without the need to travel thus saving on time.

Online personal selling introduces an aspect of diversity in terms of consumers or buyers. The sellers are exposed to a wide range of preferences and tastes emanating from different views collected from the wide range of buyers, a system which fosters improvement in terms of quality to the goods or services offered and as a result, new products evolve. However, for well established firms, employing personal means to reach individual customers in a market would prove too expensive. Personal selling involves paying the sales persons, sales representatives or sales agents in terms of wages, salaries and commissions hence all those chains of command and modes of payments involved tend to incur very high costs to the firms or the organisations they represent (Kimmel, 2005).

Marketing experts argue that personal selling often renders inefficiency in dealing with very large numbers of customers. The number of sales person needed to cater the needs of each of these individual customers would be so high and the whole idea of personal selling would instead incur the sellers loses. In addition, telemarketers and those involved in online or e-mail personal selling can only undertake their tasks in places where there is the necessary infrastructure favouring their functionality. These include the provision of cable, wireless or fibre optic internet connection for efficient data exchange process.

Public relations

Public relations can be defined as ‘the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics' (Institute of Public Relations, p.7). This form of promotional tactic entails inscription and distribution of press releases which include newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and many more to the public. Marketing experts argue that the key for operational public relations is through identification and comprehension of one’s target consumer base, the organisations integrity, the crucial messages that an individual or an organisation intends to pass across and the acknowledgment that PR is not a sales approach but a brand building method.

The main advantage of using public relations as a promotional technic is because the approach is relatively cheap compared to other methods employed for the same purpose. Subsequently, public relations have been observed as a low-cost system of reaching many customers especially in cases where the exact media is employed to achieve the desired publicity.  In addition, Pearce (2009) argues that this form of marketing approach is more credible since the message being aired comes from third parties, i.e. newspapers and magazines and consumers possess the behaviour of believing what is put on paper more than what is verbally communicated. Thus it is easier to change the customer opinion on tastes and preferences. However, the main disadvantage of employing this technique as a promotional approach is because there is a greater possibility of losing control of what third parties say or write in relation to the firm’s products and services.

Sales Promotion

Pearce (2009) says that sales promotion basically refers to the act purchasing incentives that provides an individual’s or a firm’s customers with the desired products and services. This approach may be exercised through trade fairs and exhibitions which constitutes of displays organised for one or more firms to showcase the various types of products they have on offer. These gatherings will usually last for a few days, open to the general public (Roberts, 2003).

Though purchases can be made at such gatherings, the main aim is to create awareness among the public and maybe introduce new products in the market. Moreover, direct mail as a method of sales promotion utilises the idea of a database serving a given number of individuals with close ties, usually professional ties. Mailings by sellers, carefully prepared by expert marketers are sent to the potential buyers. The views received from those consumers in relation to the mailings are carefully studied in a bid to improve a firm’s product and or services quality.

Internet Promotion is yet another form of sales promotion which manifests itself in the form of e-commerce where the business players present their products and services using the World Wide Web as the medium of transaction. Buyers order, purchase or seek services from the sellers through a website platform (Roberts, 2003). This is an easy, open and convenient mode transaction saving on costs and time. Information on commodities is readily available to the consumers enabling the m to make informed decisions and choices prior to the purchase. Suppliers are gradually embracing the internet as a highly influential communication tool using it not only for sales purposes but also a firm and effective advertising platform with advertisements taking the form of pop-ups and flash content banners.

Nevertheless, sponsorship is an approach whereby a firm may choose to be linked to a particular occasion, happening or event by financing it. These events, occasions or happens are usually with a huge fan base or followers and those firms seeking to be associated with them are in turn benefitting from the publicity involved in the occasion, event or happening. These firms are seen to be promoting these events, occasions or happenings (Bovay, 2008).

Conclusion

In conclusion, integrated Marketing Communications [IMC] has been used as a comparatively current marketing communications concept. This is why definitions and applications of IMC range from the calculated coordination to monetary and strategic integration and there has been extensive academic and professional conversation regarding the span and reception of IMC as a marketing communications values. Also a fundamental development in IMC is the verbalization of its basis being exclusively concentrated on communications with potential customers. IMC therefore should focus more on incorporation of elements of the deeds in the communications mix, to affect the procedure of consumer decision-making.

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