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Analysing elements of integrated marketing communication

In the past, the various elements of marketing communication mix were handled by experts in the relevant areas and regarded as separate functions. For example, sales department managed its selling activities independently; advertising campaigns conduct by advertising agencies whereas the sponsorship and direct marketing are conduct by specialists or consultants in these areas. Obviously, it can lead to frequently inconsistent and uncoordinated. Therefore, to change this situation to be better, integrated marketing communication should be implementing. There are some factors of implementing the IMC which are significant political and social changes, rapid technological development, and the empowerment of consumers. All these powerful forces have all contributed to creating a business climate in which marketers can no longer afford to ‘dictate’ to their target audience.

Hence, marketers should learn to adapt with the new environment because marketing landscape has much changed over the last decade. It is an environment where consumers are able to evaluate the offers being made to them and to decide more independently how to satisfy their requirements. Consumers are more selective where they will ensure that the company provides what and when they want it. Thus, this has lead to significant changes in the way marketers promote their product offerings to consumers. So, we can say that the era of IMC is very important to company.

DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS

Integrated means that combine or coordinate separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole. In other word, when all marketing communication tool work together, it will be more effective than work as a single component. It will create more competitive advantages, boost sales and profit, while saving cost, time and stress if this concept is incorporated in marketing strategy. So, if the marketing communication tools are combined as a group it will produce more powerful outcome in the process of delivering customer superior value.

Marketing

The root word for marketing is market. Market is defined as a place for consumer and sellers to carry out transaction that required cash as an exchange medium for obtaining a product or service. Marketing can be defined in two perspectives which include old view or new view of marketing. From the new view of marketing, it is all about the creation of superior value for customers and building strong customer relationship in order to capture value and feedback from customer. It is different from old views of marketing which focus only on process of selling and telling the product to target market.

Communication

In general, communication is defined as a process of transmitting information and meaning from sender to receiver either in verbal or nonverbal no matter it is occurred in a group or interpersonal.  This process of communication is considered successful if the receiver understanding information or message conveyed by the sender. There are two types of communication which is verbal communication and non verbal communication. Verbal communication includes written and oral presentation while non verbal communication includes an overall body language of the person which included the body posture, gesture and facial expressions. In marketing perspective, communication is defined as a process by which persuasive information is transmitted as promotional messages through one or more channels such as print, radio, television, direct mail, and personal selling.

Communication  information can be disseminated from sender to receiver through channel that involve various mass media including telephone, newspaper, radio, television  and other as an important tool for information dissemination. Besides that, communication also can build relationships between people or organization where people can express their emotions, exchange of idea or thought and feedback. Seller or producer relay on communication to deliver information and idea regarding the product to customer. Besides that, feedback can also be transmitted to the producer regarding the performance whether the product meet customer’s expectation or not by communication.  Without communication or when communication error occurred, the information cannot be transmitted to the target market and hence the customer will not be aware of the existence of product and transaction cannot take place.

Marketing Communication

Marketing Communication is a science and art of communicating information that the company wants to divulge to the public. Company can use marketing communication to market a product, communicate about new product that launch in the market, promoting the reputation and image of company, creating and stabilizing product and service demand, emphasizing features and benefits, providing competitive differentiation, generating sales leads, ensuring customer retention and loyalty and also motivating staff.

Marketing Communication includes five major tools which are advertising, sales promotional, personal selling, public relations, and direct marketing. Advertising is defined as any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotional of ideas, goods or service. The advantage of advertising is that it can help the customer to differentiate products and services that are most similar. Moreover, it also can help the company to create and maintain brand equity. Brand equity is defined as brand’s power derived from the goodwill and name recognition it has earned, and which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brand. Advertising also have their disadvantages like it is costly to the company. Other than that, it doesn’t help the customer in making their final purchasing decision because advertising cannot answer all the customer’s questions.

Sales promotion is short-term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of a product or service. Sales promotions mean that the information transmit is directed toward the consumer. It includes free samples, contest, coupons and other. Sales promotional can help customer to choose particular brand especially when there are many homogenous brand. Sales promotion has some advantages such as it can provide better improvement in sales by applying the promotional incentives toward certain product or services. However, the disadvantage of using this kind of communication tool is it may damage the brand image if company practices too much promotion.

Personal selling is personal presentation of the firm’s sales force for the purpose of making sales and creates customer relationship. Personal selling is the most effective tool because it is an interpersonal communication between the salesperson and the applicant buyers and hence the message can be adjust according to the particular situations and the immediate feedback can be processed. While the disadvantages of personal selling are it is not suitable if there are thousand of buyers and it is costly to the company because there are some hidden additional costs when practicing personal selling.

Public relations is building good relations with the company’s various publics by obtaining favorable publicity, building up a good corporate image, and handling or heading off unfavorable rumors, stories, and events. Publics relations become more important after our father of marketing, Philip Kotler described it as an “over communicated society”. This is because some customers make their purchase decisions based on image of company. For example, public relation plays an important role in presenting their information through report or other forms of communication which more convenient to company. The advantages of public relation are that it is a cheaper way of reaching many customers if the publicity convey through the right media and the good news of company spread among customer more quickly. However the disadvantage of this tool is company will lose control of the information. This is because company cannot always control what people want to write and discuss about their product or services.

Direct marketing is direct connections with target customers to encourage response through mail, telephone, or personal visit. The advantage of direct marketing is allows companies to convey information more accurately to the target customer segment with the message customize according to their specific needs and characteristics. Direct marketing disadvantage is customer feel disgusted with the mail, telephone call that spams customer everyday.

Integrated Marketing Communication  

Integrated Marketing Communication is defined as the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tool, avenues and sources within a company into seamless program that maximize the impact on customer and other end users at a minimal cost. This integration affects all firm business-to-business, marketing channel, customer-focused, and internally directed communications. It is a management concept that is designed so that all the marketing communication which consists of advertising, sales promotion, public relation, and direct marketing work together as a unified force rather than each of those marketing communication work in isolation. Besides, it acts as an aggressive marketing plan because it sets and tracks marketing strategy that captures and uses extensive amount of customer information. It also ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together to achieve specific objective.

Promotional Strategy

Promotion strategy is defined as a process of choosing a target market and formulating the most appropriate promotional mix to influence it. This is the critical part of doing business because they need to make sure that their potential consumers get information that will positively influence their perception about company business and convince them to use or purchase company products.

Organization promotional strategies consist of four main elements which are advertising, personal selling, sale promotion and public relations tools. First, advertising is any non personal paid form of communication of ideas or products in the “prime media”. Examples of advertising are television, newspapers, radio, magazines and other. The purpose is to persuade and inform your target market about your products. Second, personal selling is face to face selling in which a seller attempts to persuade a buyer to make a purchase. It involves the use of sales force to support push and pull strategy. Third element is sales promotion that providing incentives to customer or distribution channel to stimulate demand for the product that involve using money off coupon or special offer. Last element is public relations where the communicating a product, brand or business by placing information about it in the media without paying for the time or media space directly.

There are a few strategies related to promotional strategies employed to influence positive perception toward our product and may increase our profit when consumers purchase it. First, based on media release, organization must focus on how to deliver our message to our target audience. To be effective, spin your sales story into an interesting news story and there's a high opportunity you will receive some coverage. But it has to be interesting. Look for an angle and present it the right way and there's every chance the local media will lap it up.

Second strategy is event invitations. In today's business world of strong competition in the marketplace, it's especially significant to build good client relationships. If you're staging an event, make it only one people in charge in talking about and look forward to ensure the consistency of message. Treat your clients like friends. Having a polite and pleasant attitude at all times may seem like an obvious way to build good client relationships.

Third strategy is by using sales pitch. A sales pitch is a planned presentation of a product designed to initiate and close a sale of the same product or service. A sales pitch is essentially designed to be either an introduction of a product to an audience who knows nothing about it, or a descriptive expansion of a product that an audience has already expressed interest in. Though a good sales pitch will leave few questions unanswered, the presenter must be able to answer any questions that arise as a result of piqued interest. Even if a sales pitch is delivered effectively, the presenter must be prepared to overcome any obstacles that might avoid the close of the sale.

BENEFIT OF IMC IN FIRM PROMOTIONAL STRATEGIES

Using IMC method, it ensures that all forms of communications tools and messages are carefully linked together to tell, to persuade, and to influence buyers to buy a product. It also helps buyers move comfily through the every stages of the buying process include recognizing problem which is awareness of need, searching information about a product, evaluating of alternatives, making purchase decision, purchasing and post-purchasing.

Can consolidate image of company, develop a dialogue and nurture its relationship with customer.

Integrated Marketing Communications focuses on using all the organizations advertising and promotional efforts towards delivering the same united message. It can make the intended information and messages including slogans, quotes, facts, and figures more consistent in the process of transmitting messages from producers to buyers. It can be used in consolidating the image of company, develop a dialogue and nurture its relationship with customer.  Clear and consistent marketing message are able to reach the target audience in the shortest time without confusing them and ensure that all the segment of the campaign can be reached. Hence, it creates a long term relationships with our target customer. These customers could be present or future, internal or external. This will help company to keep the profitable customer for life. Adversely, if different division handling their own marketing activities in the company, it may result in the situation in which sales people giving out different marketing message while corporate department giving out another inconsistent message that lead to confusion. Lack of consistent of messages just may confuse or distract the buyers. In addition, it also helps buyers to shorten their buying process, especially stage of search information about each alternative of products with different brand. In conclusion, IMC is very important in deliver the consistent image and message.

Reduce Confusion of the product

Through IMC, buyer can reduce their confusion when choosing a product which can deliver superior value and satisfactions to them by presented in a planed sequence with communication tools. IMC also help buyers by update new information about a product or special offers; give reminders about existing product timely and others. Therefore, buyers and consumers can afford a new product within fastest time and repurchase a product when they are always persuaded by the communication tools such as advertising or buy additional services and products from the same sellers.

Increase the profit through increase effectiveness.

Besides, Integrated Marketing Communication also can increase the profit by increase its effectiveness. This is because impact of unified message on the customer’s mind is bigger than impact of disjointed myriad of messages. By using Integrated Marketing Communication, message transmitted has a better chance of cutting through the barriers of commercial message that bombard customer each day. When customer received a crystal clear message about the product and service, they will tend to build a long term relationship with the company and hence the market share will increase gradually. It will be profitable for the company for long term. By providing clearer message and develop a strong strategy positioning company product in the market,  competitive advantage can be delivered to differentiate themselves from other competitor. Thus it will increase the customer satisfaction and promote increasing profit in the long run. It can be proved by research from Centre for Integrated Marketing which shown that by adopting integrated marketing communication, it can enhance business performance by 10% to 25%.

Integrated Marketing Communication can boost sales by stretching message across several communication tools.

It is profitable when customer practice Integrated Marketing Communication which will deliver superior value more effectively by using a combination of variety communication channel like sales promotion and direct marketing. By stretching messages across several communication tools, purchase can be increased gradually because it create more avenues for customer to become aware about the product itself and its benefit. It will definitely boost sales by gradually increase in customer purchase. This is because by using the integrated marketing communication, we can deliver our information toward more specific target audiences. It is like a more specialized media compare to other mass media. So, it can reach the potential target customer with the high accuracy and the probability of those customers to purchase product offer is higher. It can maximize the effect on customer with lower cost if integrated marketing communication is used wisely.

 Integrated marketing communication can help the company to save money

Any communication tool should integrate with and draw on as many other communication tools as possible in order to maximize cost effectiveness. Integrated marketing communication can saves a lot of money in the promotional effort as compared to other who does not adopt it. This is because it enables the company to reduce unnecessary cost by cutting down number of agencies. By choosing the same service supplier, it can coordinate photography, design and printing of advertisement and also sales literature. Hence it will save a lot of money and work effort because it avoids duplication in areas such as graphics and photography. Moreover, it also can save a lot of time. Times can be saved when we organized meeting that bring all the agencies together for briefing, creative session, tactical or strategy planning. Hence, workload and subsequently stress level can be reduced when company practice integrated marketing communication.

Reliability of the Messages

In the un-integrated communication marketing, sellers or marketers always send out of disjointed of messages and information to buyers. As a result, it directly dilutes the impact of messages and many messages will fail to arrive, misunderstood, simply ignored by buyers because of its reliability. Moreover, without using IMC method, it may bring anxiety frustrate and confuse to buyers, and then buyers will not have confidence and trust in this brand and their product. This also gives bad effect such as transactions in market which cannot carry out smoothly, and sometimes buyers are unlikely to buy the product again because the performance of the product cannot meet their expectations and cannot provide them satisfactions. Then it affects the volume of product sales, which also give bad impact to the business objectives and normally sellers were blamed as they did not achieve the target given to them. The problem of un-integrated communication marketing can be solving by using IMC method. Ability of sellers to use several communication tools for creates the messages and information in a form that can be easily understood by the buyers which give reliable, inspire, reassure of sense to buyers in the buying process.

Customer Database

Moreover, IMC also provides customer databases to sellers and marketers to identify information about buyers precisely and accurately. Sellers can know detail information such as which buyers need what information throughout their buying life, name and email address of every customers the sellers have sold to and also include what the customers purchase and when they purchase the product. Based on all information inside the customer databases, sellers and marketers can decide which promotional strategy should used to create effectiveness in targeting their market. In other meaning, customer databases can be say is the best marketing tool in the IMC for to track buyer’s interest precisely.

Relationship Marketing

In the IMC method also include “relationship marketing” which is a form of marketing strategy emphasizes customer satisfaction and retention, rather than focus on sales transactions for obtain short-term profits only. “Relationship marketing” different from other types of marketing strategy in that it can recognizes value of customer relationships in long term and protect customers from intrusive sale promotional messages and advertising. Besides that, it also builds a bond of loyalty with buyers which can provide them protection from the unavoidable onslaught of competition in market. Sellers and marketers can gain competitive advantages when they can to keep a long-term customer for lifetime, offering greater customer value within IMC method.

BARRIERS TO INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION

Functional Silos

Resources, support and guidance of upper management are needed to build a successful integrated marketing communications campaign. The job of upper management is to make sure that all the resources are thoroughly no matter is for budgets, sharing data or people across teams. However, the problem now is integrated marketing communication don’t control by one manager only. All the managers involve in the information transmitting process have to work together in controlling the process. It mean that all the manager of advertising team, public relation team and also the marketing team have to coordinate in the process of delivering information about the product and service of the company to the target customer. When the control is shared among all the team manager, which can prove to be a difficult concept for some member of upper management, creating a barrier to integrated marketing communication.

Restricts creativity

IMC can restrict creativity. With a variety of team involved in launching an integrated marketing campaign, each team have to ensure that all the task carry out must fit the overall goals and message of the campaign. As an example, when the promotional team comes up with a creative idea for a sweepstakes, it must match with the integrated campaign goal to ensure the communication process effectiveness. But, if it doesn’t fit with the realm of integrated marketing goals, the creative plan cannot implement by the particular team no matter how high the level of creativeness it may seem. All the teams have to follow the unified strategy to convey a consistent message to send to our target customer.

Lack of Resources

When the integrated marketing communication is practiced, it requires the entire member in the organization to take part in the process of transmitting the information to the customer. So, in order to make sure the process of transmitting consistent and useful information to carry out smoothly, the entire member in the organization needs to have the required knowledge and skill to executive the strategic plan. Because skills and knowledge are the key needs, some staff members receive training in areas they may not familiar with to ensure the success of the transmitting information about the product and service the company offer. Hence, it will increase the company cost and hence it will become more costly to practice integrated marketing communication. Besides, integrated marketing communication also required proper planning and time management to ensure the communication transmitting process become more effectively. When the marketing team delays their work process, it will affect the sales rape work task because they are interdependence. So, information transmitting process tends to become less effective when practice integrated marketing communication.

Different Corporate Cultures

Integrated marketing communications generally include more than just one company working to put together in a campaign. For example, pitching articles to the press about a product launch is in charge by the public relations firm and a print advertisement may develop by an advertising agency. The problem occur when each company take part in the customer transmitting process tend to operate in its own unique culture, but when it is needed to meshed with a new company culture, the result is not always positive. There is one of the potential barriers the organization must overcome when the company practice integrated marketing communication. As an example, the advertising company may take relaxed approach to completing task, paying little or no attention to looming deadlines, but the public relation firm may be dead-line driven. This different culture between the companies may cause the integrated marketing communication process less effective to carry out.

HOW THE IMC PROCESS PLAYING ITS ROLE IN THE FIRMS PROMOTIONAL STRATEGIES

Identify target audience

Promotional process must start with identify target audience by using segmentation, which is defining buying preferences and characteristics of buyers and dividing them into segments. The goal of identify target audiences is to design promotional strategies that can meet the customer expectations more accurately. Thus, IMC which integrating and coordinating of all types of marketing promotional tools that maximize satisfaction of buyers will be very useful to the firm’s promotional strategies. This is because IMC can help the company by providing customer databases to sellers and marketers to identify information about the buyers precisely and accurately.

Determine the communication objectives

In the second stage, company need to develop a clear objective and the goals of promotional strategies. The objectives of promotional strategies include creating products and services awareness in the buyers’ mind, developing competitive advantages against competitors, creating brand equity of buyers, retaining current buyers and changing buyers’ behaviors. Meanwhile, Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) develops different types of promotional tools, which have containing different functions to achieve the communication objectives of the promotional strategies effectively and efficiently.

Design messages

An effective message will get the attention from buyers and maintain their interest toward the messages about their brand of products. Therefore, promotional team of a firm should implement IMC when designing the messages deliver to each segment in order for the messages to be delivered effectively. Although a tailored message for each target segments designed by using several promotional tools in IMC process, but the messages of promotions must have same meaning and theme. This is because each of promotional tools must used to achieve the same communication objectives and goals within the firm.

Implementation of promotional strategy

Promotional channels can divide into two categories, which consists of personal communication and non personal communication channels. So when incorporated IMC into the promotional strategy, it needs to select and implement the right marketing channels and methods. No single channel can dominates in all aspects, which means that the channels need to be adjusted based of the markets needs and changes from time to time. This has proven that IMC which integrating and coordinating of all types of marketing promotional channels can be very useful when it comes to the implementation of promotional strategy process.

Collecting feedback

Finally the firms will carry out some surveys in order to get some feedback from the target audience as the final step in the IMC process. For example, the firm will ask how effectively the message was delivered to the target audience, such as how many times the audience saw the advertisement or can the audience remember what the message marketers are going to inform and etc. Based on that, the firm will conduct a report about the behavior resulting from the message, such as how many of the target audiences buy the product or visit the store after they saw the advertisement. These information could be very important to the firm promotional strategies as it could directly affects the volume of sales, profits and indirectly reflect to the successfulness of the promotional strategies that had been implemented. Hence, all this information can get from the customer database to create more accurate and reliable feedback.

REASON FOR GROWING IMPORTANCE OF IMC

More contact points

Traditional mass media such as radio and TV is used to be a way to advertising a product, brand or service. This type of promotional strategy only can transmit the information to some of the target customers but not all. Therefore, IMC is a form of promotional strategy where all the promotional strategies are integrated so that the company able to transmit the message to all the target customers and also the customers can interact with the company brand in many ways. For example, a customer may have heard about one restaurant from their friend which they had been go there before and had a great experience dining at there. After that, the customer goes online to search information about that restaurant which include the menu and price and also make reservations. When the days come, your restaurant have to notice how cozy the place is and also get the chef’s recommended dishes for that night to make sure the customer satisfy what they expected. From the example above, the IMC cover all the contact points which include customer service, store design, direct marketing, internet, word-of-mouth marketing, after sales service, new media and etc. Thus, IMC can be said that it is a very useful tool where it can generate more contact point from customers.

More specialized media

It is used to be enough for mass media to cover any advertiser’s needs. Due to the rising of ad clutter, greater confrontation to advertising and shorter attention spans, and this cause the customers tend to be a lot more selective which they shut off the material that they feel no need and select with the thing that they need. IMC can generates specialized media where not only one of the promotional strategy is use to advertise one of the product or service. For example, the magazines may provide to entrepreneurs, pet owners, budget travelers, sport fans and mothers. There are also other example which are viral video clips of cats, blogs on cheap hotels and resorts in Asia Pacific, have podcasts now that talk about starting up a successful small business.

Marketing in now more data-based

Nowadays, the companies like to make advertisement through media such as TV. But the problem is do they know exactly how many people watched their ad? The advertisers do not like to shell out wads of cash for media buy without knowing their ways of getting the media investment back. They always want to see figures like how much they had spent for the ad and how much they are getting back in return to support their decision.

This is to evaluate whether the time and effort that they need spent is worth it or not. So based on these facts, it shows that IMC is playing an important role in firm promotional strategies. This is because IMC in now more data-based. It can provide the useful and accurate data form information that needed by the marketer and advertiser.

More than ever, customers are king

The power has shifted from those who make a product to those who actually see the product. As we know, it is difficult to win back the customer you lost than keeping an existing customer happy. Therefore, the retailers have to put more attention on protecting their clientele and also participate in whipping up the best experience before, during and after the sales for patrons. Promotional tool performance increase when IMC is incorporated in the promotion of company product and service that is needed by our target customer. When IMC can help the marketer to carry out the promotional strategy more effectively, it can meet the customer expectation and hence create the customer delight. As an example, if the customer needs some information for a particular product, the promotional too can help them to get the reliable and accurate information that help the customer making the buying decision. After that, when the customer uses the product offer by the company and found that information that the promotional tool convey match with the product’s performance. Customer will feel delight and satisfied. This will help the company to retain existing customer and attract new customer.

More widespread internet use

The customers can use the worldwide web to check what they want anytime and anywhere they feel like it. It is also good for business people where they can exist outside their business hours. Every company should have an online presence but no need to be a static-brochure type website. For example, company blogs which allow us to interact with our online audience. Normally, innovative and new promotional activities can help to bring in new business. Through this worldwide web, we can know that our clientele are discussing about our product, brand or service that has made a tremendous impact to them either good or bad ways. Besides, we can also integrate promotional tool to convey the information of the product. For example, we can excess internet to view the advertisement of the company offer. The company not only displays their advertisement beside the road or through the television, they also can place the advertisement on the internet so that more people can view it and excess to the company offering. In the other hand, we can also get coupon from the internet which is also a form of integrated marketing communication tool which incorporated the internet sources and the sales promotion. So, it is more convenience rather than visiting the product stall to get couple.

CONCLUSION

Integrated marketing communication is the biggest challenge for all the companies which will be facing in the 21st century. All the brands deal with this challenge, no matter their revenue and the size. After twenty years of existence, the concept is now at the defining moment. Some company can’t expand its roots of integrated marketing communication because they misunderstood and misinterpreted in the concept of IMC.

Therefore, there is an enormous gap to be connect, which is the gap between IMC as a practice and as a theory. The member of the company should know what is the meaning and usage of IMC so that they can implement in the company. Also, the concept of IMC should be defined clearly as a theory so that it can be correctly implemented in the company business practices. If this gap didn’t connect, there will be a big problem for IMC as a discipline. This is because it can be reduce to be a simple tool or tactic, which it is not. Also, the current integrated marketing communication is very limited to what it is.

Thus, the organization should understand what they need to do to implement integrated processes. The organizational changes that required for the implementation of truly integrated processes need to take place. The organization need to think differently so that it can force themselves to do so.

At last, IMC has the opportunity to turn into a revolution because it will affect the entire system. Organizations on the client side won’t be the only ones to change. Agencies have to rethink their models and adapt to their clients’ needs and wants. This can be defined in the law of supply and demand.

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