An Integrated Marketing Communications Plan is a comprehensive plan that contains information about when and how the company intends to use the various marketing communications. The plan also includes details of which media to be used when and for how long.
The Integrated Marketing communications Plan is a written document and can vary in length as per the level of detail that the organization wishes to include in it. It can be of just a set of organized hand-written documents for an individual managing a small firm or be a detailed and complex multi-page document for the promotion of a product from a major corporate house. However, irrespective of the size of the document, a sound IMC plan contains a set of six essential things. These are:
1. Targeting (The customers who are the primary group to focus on and the prospects)
2. SWOT Analysis
4. Strategies and Tactics (Advertising, Sales Promotion, Public Relations and Personal Strategies)
6. Evaluation (Ouwersloot and Duncan 118)
The objective of this essay is to develop an effective Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for the new product idea that we had conceived. The product was a Transformable Tablet that serves as an alternative to the laptops. In the previous assignment, a need for such a product was identified due to there being a considerable gap in between a conventional laptop and a Tablet PC device. The Integrated Marketing Communications Plan that we develop shall refresh a few of the concepts and research we undertook earlier. The primary objective of this assignment is to develop the strategies and tactics for the transformable tablet. These strategies would contain detailed information on the advertising, public relations, sales promotion and personal selling initiatives that we need to undertake so as to make the product a successful one.
We shall now present an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for the Transformable Tablet.
The target consumer for the product as discussed earlier are the consumers looking for a more capable productivity solution with an added flexibility of using it as a tablet as and when needed. Thus the prime target is the age group 18-30 years. They are the gadget friendly generation and are present in large numbers irrespective of the geographic location. The youth in America is as enthusiastic as the one in China about a new gadget that could simplify their increasingly complicated lives. The product can also be targeted to the more office inclined professionals who would want a productivity solution for the whole day. The device has to appeal to both a casual user and a professional looking for a productivity aid. The transformable tablet has to be positioned as a device which was both fun and work related. It can be made as much fun as you want it to be and similarly for the productivity.
We shall now discuss the strength and weakness that our transformable tablet might have and the opportunities and threat that arises out of the marketplace.
The strength of such a transformable tablet is in carving out a niche and creating a new product segment. It is placed as a product superior in technical specifications than a tablet but lighter and more easy to carry around than a laptop
The product is targeted towards the young and the old, the professional and casual user.
The Transformable tablet carries hardware specification superior to a tablet and battery life longer than the laptop. The pricing has been set at being much less than a laptop, but not too expensive than a tablet. There is a lack in direct competition as such a product is currently absent in the marketplace
The company launching the product is relatively unknown in the gadgets and technology marketplace. Competing against bigger and experienced gadget and device manufacturers might be a tough challenge
The absence of such a product in the market and our product being first movers gives us a distinct advantage. Advertising the product as a fully capable office productivity solution that was also handy and mobile can increase the sales and success of the product.
The threat comes from the fact that the product might find difficulty in acceptance due to absence of such a product in the market.
There exist considerable risk in unique positioning of a product The competition might come out with similar products and thus initiating direct competition with the transformable tablet.
The principle objective of the company is to emerge as a major player in the consumer electronics market. The objective of the company with respect to the transformable tablet is to create a new market segment between the 10-11 inch tablets and the laptop. The need for such a device has to be generated among individuals, if it did not exist earlier.
Once the goals are decided, and the objectives set, the path to reach those goals has to be devised. IMC strategies include tools like advertising, public relations, sales promotion activities and public relations.
The traditional advertising channels are more or less saturated now. New ways of advertising shall suit the transformable tablet as more suitable, as the target group of users is upwardly mobile and “forever online”. Thus a more focused approach towards social media can be helpful. Viral videos are the best way to announce a new and revolutionary product like ours and youtube is an ideal platform to begin a campaign from. The message in the advertising should be clear about what our gadget aims at being. The transformable tablet should be campaigned as a revolutionary productivity solution for the corporate, and also possesses remarkable fun and entertainment related features. Its USP of all day computing capabilities due to the extended battery life should be highlighted. The TV campaign delivering such a message aided by the social media platform of facebook, twitter and forum discussions shall be highly beneficial.
The Twitter and Facebook are important advertising media platforms as a majority of the target customers are regular users of the two social networking websites. Twitter, however might not always be beneficial in terms of the investment made as it primarily has celebrities posting random tweets which the people follow.
The traditional media of marketing should not be neglected in favor of the modern methods. Print ads in business magazines would be greatly accurate and worth investing in. Billboards might have become ancient methods of advertising but if used at the right places can be highly rewarding, as these methods are much cheaper than the rest. Bilboards near airports and inside airport lounges are excellent way of popularizing our product. Also live demos in such places would help as our transformable tablet is most suited for the frequent business traveler who would want to carry one light weight yet power packed device to meet all his needs.
Sales promotion activities are essential for our product, since it is not being backed by a major consumer electronics company. It is essential to meet the pricing expectation of the consumers and the R&D of such a product is rather high, which makes it price go up. However coupons and discount for a first ten thousand products would mean that we can release the product with a tag of discounted price. Also entering into tie ups with financial institutions so that the consumer can avail an extra discount if purchased using the services of the bank would mean that the consumer can get the product for a cheaper price while discount of profit can be recovered from the increased volumes and bank service fee.
Another effective way of sales promotion is through contests that engage customers in a shopping complexes and high streets. Here some sort of contest or interactive game or quiz shows can be organized where the winner of the participant would get our new product totally free of cost. Other participants can be offered discount coupons and gift vouchers against which they can get discounts while buying our tablets. The best and most popular method is of Karaoke contests and technology or product related quiz shows.
Another very effective way to promote the sales of our product is through a newspaper and magazine article pointing out how revolutionary and unique our product is in its design and functionality. Other way of writing an article would be an indirect approach but still very effective. Here we can present the current technology landscape and argue how business professionals are missing a product which is fun and lightweight to carry yet powerful enough to cater to their office and work related requirements. The article can end with suggesting our product as a possible solution.
Public Relation initiatives are very important activities in branding of consumer electronic products. The importance of public relations shall never be overlooked as many good products have failed before due to poor PR initiatives. Press releases and launches are now more or less irrelevant as news of a new product now does reach the press, one way or the other. PR events are however key tool towards creating a buzzword in the industry. The trend was started by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and now has been replicated by other major consumer electronics companies. This is an excellent platform to showcase the product to the world and through this one can make the viewers walk through all the new and innovative features in the product. Such PR programs are also very interactive discussions and act as debut events for the product. Every other advertising and promotion activity is usually preceded by the worldwide launch of such electronics products.
A Word of mouth PR campaign is an effective way to boost sales. The best way to have a positive word of mouth is to have a quality product and competent services. Reward and referral programs are also great ways to improve PR of the company. Also exclusive discounts to potential customers are good ways. A follow up on the Word-of-mouth campaign is essential. Email communication of all the customers and employees will help in creating a positive PR campaign. Blogs are still very effective ways to establish and maintain positive PR. Monitoring blogs regularly helps in damage control.
Since we are a consumer electronics product, our initiatives do not involve door to door salesmanship. Exclusive showrooms are still impractical owing to a single product of the transformable tablet. The personal strategies shall thus be limited to training executives in giving effective demos of the product in the dealer showrooms. Trade shows and kiosks near airports have already been identified as a beneficial and important marketing communication exercise. It is important to identify the customer who is our primary target. The sales personnel in the dealer showrooms shall thus be properly trained to effectively communicate the USP’s of our tablet. Public Relation Campaigns are also important towards good personal strategies and are inter-related in many senses.
Budget and Evaluation
The total budget for the Marketing communications should be balanced with the sales. Ideally the marketing communications budget should be tried to be limited to 4-5% of the sales forecast figures. It is important to divide the budget according to the importance of each activity among the IMC plan. Our advertising and PR events are the best way to spread the word and should constitute a larger share of the amount sanctioned.
Evaluation of the strategies is vital as the return of some part of investment is needed as per the terms of the IMC investment. Both pre- and post- test methods shall be employed like forecasting, market analysis, tracking of sales etc.
These are the primary elements of a complete and effective Integrated Marketing Communications Plan. Any other plan without such elements shall be incomplete and thus ineffective. The proposed plan has been built around a launch of a new and revolutionary consumer electronics product. The important aspects of strategy in advertising, PR and Sales promotion have been discussed and ways to implement it have been suggested.
Ouwersloot, Hans and Tom Duncan. Integrated Marketing Communications. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Print