Islamic Relief Marketing Communications
Islamic Relief (UK), (IRUK), is an NGO that gives humanitarian aid to the needy people by addressing poverty issues, responding to emergencies, promoting sustainable development, and addressing long-term needs of people. With these noble goals, Islamic Relief (UK) needs a lot of help in carefully meeting its marketing communication objectives. This organization does not view other organizations, from the same industry, as competitors, but rather, as similar organizations working towards suffering alleviating, as well as humanitarian relief. Islamic Relief (UK) uses marketing communication strategies in order to create brand awareness, and to receive funding from donor, well-wishers, and other humanitarian organizations so that the organization can implement its strategies (Von 2010). Islamic Relief (UK) does not sell goods and services, but indeed, it needs to market itself in order to achieve its goals and objectives. The organization needs to collect funds to help the needy. Therefore, there is need for coming up with effective marketing communication strategies.
IRUK is a popular agency, being an active NGO that offers help worldwide. Islamic Relief (UK) uses campaigns to market itself. The campaigns include; Live TV appeals, print adverts, fundraising events, calendars, outdoor advertising among other forms of offline advertising. Usually, the adverts have emotional appeal because they feature humanitarian cases such as needy families. Emotionally appealing words are also used in the adverts (Chen 2011). This helps to attract donors because the organization relies heavily on donations. Thus, by creating brand awareness, Islamic Relief (UK) ensures that the target market is familiar with the organization’s products and services. This ensures that the organization acquires good market share. Brand awareness is ensured by repeatedly talking of the goals of the organization. In addition, brand awareness is vital in creating strong brand equity. Hence, as more people become aware of the organization, good reputation is acquired resulting in more funding (Kodish & Pettegrew 2008).
Marketing communications have also been helpful in increasing customer base and good relationships with funders, partners, among other stakeholders. Islamic relief requires marketing communication strategies to inform the audience of its products and their relevance. In addition, marketing communication strategies are necessary tools in knowing the society’s needs. The organization, being Islam based campaigns for the need to help generously. This encourages most organizations and individuals to donate, knowing that God will reward them. To some extent, the organization uses online advertising communication strategies to reach its target audience, which as mentioned above, include other charitable organizations and donors. The marketing communication strategies for Islamic Relief (UK) include creating brand awareness, brand image, and developing positive attitudes towards the organization’s activities.
Further, IRUK marketing communications are helpful tools informing people about the needy people who need immediate intervention. Some sponsor organizations may not be aware of the need to give a helping hand to the needy. However, IRUK has channels to identify the needy groups that need their help. Consequently, through their marketing communications, such as TV adverts, the funding organizations are made aware and thus provide funds that may be in the form of money, food, and clothes among others. This helps IRUK to interact with influential organizations/ individuals who are helpful to the organization.
Marketing Communications are necessary for IRUK to communicate to the stakeholders on how the funds were used. Donors always want to know how their money is spent by a relief agency (Jensen & Jepsen 2006). Therefore, it is the role of the relief agency to use the funds the way the funds are intended to be used. it is through communications that the target audience gets to know whether the funds were used wisely, or not. In addition, through marketing communications, stakeholders and other donors can tell whether it is worth investing their funds in the agency, basing on the financial statements of the agency and other important documents.
Mainly, IRUK uses traditional marketing communications strategies whereby it utilizes offline communication strategies. This agency conducts marketing campaigns on the TV, radios, traditional print (newspapers), magazines, billboards, road shows campaigns and other offline marketing channels. These channels have been successful over the years, and in fact the agency has been successful in meeting its objectives of creating brand awareness and obtaining funds from donors and sponsors. However, there is need to change the current marketing communications because the world has become dynamic, with technology bringing the need for change in the marketing strategy (Kodish & Pettegrew 2008). Through marketing communications research, the agency can determine modern ways of planning and implementing effective marketing communications (Von 2010). This will be possible through knowing the target audience, which has already been done, and then knowing how to reach the target group. IRUK carries out important roles of helping the poor, intervening during crises and helping during emergencies. These roles/objectives cannot be overlooked because without these services, the people would be left to suffer. However, this agency can mobilize resources that help in meeting the goals, which are crucial in ensuring the good welfare of the needy people.
Part 2 (Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Strategy)
There is the need for IRUK to adopt Integrated Marketing Communications approach. Over the years, the agency has relied heavily on offline marketing Communications. In today’s dynamic and rapidly changing world, other forms of advertising need to be incorporated. For instance, Islamic Relief (UK) should spice up offline marketing communications strategy with Online marketing communications Strategy. This means that the organization should move from traditional marketing communications to interactive marketing communication that take place between the organization and the target audience. This is necessary because it will ensure that the marketing is not directed to non-interested masses, rather to the interested parties, who in this case is the target audience. Following the four steps in integrated marketing communications will ensure that the target group is enticed to take the desired action such as offering sponsorship (Von 2010).
Integrated marketing Communications, or simply the IMC, refers to a brand communication approach, whereby several modes work together by presenting them using a similar tone with the aim of bringing out the brand’s core message (Chen 2011). Here, all aspects of marketing communication including advertising, public relations, online communications, sales promotion, and social media work together, rather than in isolation, so as to reinforce brand message. IMC is cost effective and this is yet another advantage. Cost efficiency comes as a result of, incorporating the marketing communications to pass the core message. Organizations especially those that rely on donations, such as IRUK, need to consider the cost efficiency aspect. Mass media has brought this effectiveness because many people are now spending a lot of time online. Exposing the brand online creates brand awareness because many people come across the brand and can remember the brand over time. The marketing manager must put into consideration the seven components of IMC. These include; integration tools, understanding the market/product, promotional tools, corporate culture, communications tools, and the brand focus (Henley 2001).
In coming up with the integrated Marketing Communication strategy, the marketers ought to consider the A.I.D.A Model. This refers to four aspects that include Attention, Interest, Desire and, finally, Action. Under attention, the marketers must attract the target group’s attention, that is, they must be enticed to notice the brand. For instance, IRUK needs to tackle problems such as poverty, disasters and other problems that the agency is offering solution. In addition, the solution must be stated because this is what attracts attention the most. Other effective strategies is attracting attention can include; asking a provoking question, or showing surprise to a given situation (Henley 2001). Possibly, the marketers can pose a question such as “If we don’t house the homeless, who will?” this is indeed a provoking question, and a willing and able organization/ individual will be quick to respond.
As regards interest, the marketer must explain how the problem is affecting people’s lives. This can be done by demonstrating for the audience to identify with the problem and to be interested in offering solutions. The marketer needs to personalize the issue, as this will help attract interest from possible donors. Desire is also another objective whereby the marketer intends to show how the brand will solve the issue at hand. Here, the goals and the budget of the program will be communicated to the prospects. For instance, if the goal is to feed the hungry, this should be described well. Finally, the prospects should be persuaded to take action, which in this case, is to offer help through donating, or offering any other help (Kodish & Pettegrew 2008).
IMC ensures message consistency using the media. This concept involves both the use of online and offline marketing communication channels. The channels for online marketing communications are e-marketing, affiliate, search engine optimization, email, podcast, webinar, internet TV, RSS, blog, Internet Radio, and pay per click. The offline marketing communication channels that Islam relief can apply include traditional print, public relations, traditional Radio/TV, industry relations, mail order, and billboards. In order to achieve maximum success, the marketers must apply IMC especially because of the adversely developing and advancing technology. IMC is an approach that is driven by data that helps combine both offline and online channels to come up with a strong relationship between the brand and the target audience (Chen 2011).
Importance of IMC
IMC is a vital marketing communication strategy that leads to competitive advantage through saving money, time, and the related stress. For the case of IRUK, it can lead to increased funding because more prospects will be reached. Another advantage is the fact that IMC allows the prospects to follow all the stages of the buying process because the agency will be able to consolidate its image, initiate dialogue, and nurture strong relationships with the audience/ customers. Thirdly, IMC leads to loyalty, which is likely to suppress competition, given that there are several relief agencies. Important to note, however, is that the relief agencies have the same goals, and in most cases, they work hand in hand. IMC leads to another advantage because the strategy is more effective, which increases productivity. In addition, the strategy ensures that the audience is reminded constantly of the brand; the message is also updated often through a planned sequence. IMC has also been attributed for preventing duplication in terms of graphics and pictures because they can be used repeatedly in future advertisements. Finally, the marketing communication strategy ensures message consistency, which ensures credibility. This helps reduce buyer risk; hence shortening the time for brand comparison (Von 2010).
Rather than the 4P’s, IMC applies the 4 C’s, which include consumer, cost, convenience and communication. First, the organization needs to understand the target audience; the organization must also understand the needs of the people it needs to help. This way, it will be possible to convince the sponsors to provide funding. In terms of cost, the agency should be realistic when stating the money or the items it needs to raise to help the vulnerable and the needy group. As regards convenience, IRUK needs to make it a convenient process for the target audience. For instance, it should be convenient for the sponsors to pass their donations. IRUK should be easily accessible for the convenience of the target audience. Finally, the agency should focus on communication where it incorporates all the aspects of marketing communication, among them offline and online methods. The mediums should be used to reinforce each other to drive home the brand message (Jensen 2006).
IMC on social networking
Social networks are allowing organizations to interact with their target audience with the help of the internet. This method is interactive because both parties can post comments, give ratings, and allow feedback and additional information on the subject at hand. For instance, when IRUK is offering assistance to a country that has been hit by an earthquake, this information is readily availed in the internet where people such as donors, sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders can know what is happening. They can also comment on the activities that are taking place, give areas for action, and know the accountability. This openness is important because the fundraisers can know how their funds have been used and can exactly know what is affecting the group that is being assisted, say hunger stricken countries. Websites such as epinions.com can be utilized by IRUK because it will allow for interaction between the organization and the target group. Other social networks that the agency can utilize include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks that the target audience utilizes frequently (Jensen & Jepsen 2006).
Infrastructures necessary for online marketing communication channels
The most important infrastructure is the technological infrastructure, which includes computers that are interconnected, routers, internet cables, servers, and switches. The other infrastructure is competition or the commercial infrastructure. This creates scarce resources; hence the need for continuous integrated communication marketing. In addition, there is the regulatory infrastructure that involves the process of regulating the online marketing communications to ensure that marketers do not misuse them. Finally, there is the social infrastructure. This means that the online marketing cannot be successful unless there are people to inform about the product, the concept, service, or the idea that the organization wants to pass across. The World Wide Web (WWW) is useful for the social infrastructure (Van 2007).
Improving brand awareness
Brand awareness is useful in measuring the knowledge of consumers regarding existence of a product/service. Aspects that can influence brand awareness include online reviews, paid advertisements, display advertisements, use of such engines (Google, Bing, Gmail and yahoo), and use of social sphere (Facebook, Twitter, Reddt). In order to build brand awareness via links, marketers are advised to engage with the existing audience, know the influential funs, reach the power social users, and making use of the PR teams (Jensen & Jepsen 2006).
Islamic Relief (UK) is a charity organization that aims at improving the lives of the poor people in the world. It is an NGO that also responds to emergencies such as natural disasters. The organization works closely with the local communities. IRUK uses marketing communications to create brand image and to acquire funding from donors. For several years, the agency has been using traditional marketing communications, or the offline marketing communications, which includes TV and radio adverts and print media. Following the advancing technology and stiff competition that the agency faces, there is the need to establish integrated marketing communications strategy whereby the markers incorporates both offline and online marketing communications so as to communication brand image to the target market. This will be of great importance because it will ensure that the target audience it reached and that the organization meets its goals of creating brand awareness and acquiring funding to help the vulnerable groups. In implementing IMC strategy, the agency needs to put into consideration the A.I. D.A Model that includes seeking attention, interest, desire and, action from the target audience. In order to come up with an effective Integrated Marketing Communications strategy, the markers ought to consider the 4C’s of consumer, cost, convenience and communication. Technology, competition, regulation and social infrastructure leads to either success or failure of the IMC, depending on how it they are applied.
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