Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a strategy used to brand communications whereby different aspects are put together to form a flawless occurrence for the customer and are offered with a related pitch and style that literally strengthens the brand’s foundational message. The main goal of an IMC is to make all the modes of a marketing communication work together as an amalgamated force and not allowing each one to work in segregation (Clow, 2007). This will ensure that the cost effectiveness is maximized. Some of the aspects of IMC that will be discussed in this section include: advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, publicity/public relations and personal selling.
Advertising is a form of communication which is used to persuade consumers to continue using a given product or to inform them of a given product in the market. The main goal of advertising is to drive consumer behavior and reassure employees or shareholders that the company is viable. Advertisers usually seek to generate increased consumption of different products and services through branding. Poorly advertised products usually recorded a retarded market performance while professionally advertised products record increased market demands hence increased consumption (Umiker-Sebeok, 2007). Therefore for a company/an organization to be successful, they need to ensure that they invest significant amount of resources to ensure successful and effective advertisement.
Increases the market attractiveness of a product/service
Facilitates sales of products/services provided by a company
It promotes products and services awareness among different consumers
It helps a company to strategically position itself in the market
Some advertisements give wrong information hence making the consumers feel duped
Increase in cost of production hence the price of the final product will also be adjusted upwards
Leads to monopoly hence unhealthy competition in the market
Creates confusion and hence leading to wrong purchases due to the attractiveness of the adverts
Encourages luxury and impulse buying
Causes wastages and reduced cleanliness resulting from the disposal of advertising materials
Direct marketing is a form of advertisement that permits businesses and organizations to communicate directly to the consumers. This marketing strategy uses techniques such as mobile messaging, interactive consumer websites, catalog distribution, outdoor advertising, flier distribution and online display adverts (Strokes, 2008). This technique mainly puts more emphasis on the consumer, data and responsibility. It also involves carrying out some track activities on the consumer responses and hence determines whether the implemented strategy is working or not.
It involves direct business hence reduced cost which also results into reduced price for the final product/service.
Stating consumer response can be easily retrieved hence help in making the necessary adjustments to increase on the product/service effectiveness.
Profit and loss can be easily and accurately judged.
Direct mailings/distribution of fliers may offend the consumers and many are not in support of this strategy as they feel that it hampers their private lives.
Sales promotion is one of the aspects of promotional mix used increase market demand and improves product availability. Sales promotions are very vital for any business desiring to increase sales. When adequately used, it helps to increase sales even after the promotions are over. However, when used more frequently, the enthusiasm around them weakens. Sales promotion includes rebates, loss leaders, coupons, product samples, prizes, contests and point of purchase displays. Sales promotions are usually directed at the sales staff, customers or the on to the members of the distribution channel. The main goal of sales promotion is to stimulate immediate sales hence increase the viability of the company/business establishment (Strokes, 2008).
They help in creating urgency as they draw attention to a particular product or service being offered. They also differentiate businesses from competitors through pricing. Consumers’ time is also saved as the limited offers are usually attractive and in most cases the consumers will stop and buy the item featured.
Encourages customers to try new products or be able to switch between brands.
It is very effective at achieving quick sales.
They keep trade flowing between distributors and retailers as the commodities are given a certain shelf life after which they are sold off at reduced prices.
Miscommunication of messages – most of the sales promotions are mainly aimed at selling off products at a faster rate. This usually leads to the promoters using persuasive language which may in some cases not reflect on the actual specifications of the product.
Price sensitivity – during sales promotions, products are sold at reduced prices which are usually a disadvantage to the seller especially when they are offered more regularly.
May damage the brand name/image
Customers may anticipate for more promotions hence a reduction in sales especially during off promotions.
The main goal of publicity/public relations is to shape opinion. Public relations help in protecting an organization’s reputation, strengthening its credibility, influencing behavior and enhancing the organization’s image. There are several PR tactics that can be employed by an organization to ensure its success. They include speeches, newsletters, news releases, special events and annual reports. Publicity is free unlike advertising which is usually paid for (Paul, 2008). Since publicity is free, it is deemed more plausible and more likely to have a brunt on the end consumer.
It is highly credible form of promotion hence helps in passing the right information to the final consumer. This plays a very important role in ensuring that a company’s image is well promoted and preserved.
Helps in exposing the target market to more detailed information that what is usually achieved when using other forms of promotion
A single story can be spread to many locations within a very short period of time.
The public relations objectives are usually achieved at very low cost as compared to other forms of promotion.
Marketers lack direct control over the mode of message delivery and in some cases the message may not be delivered at all
The message may not be precisely placed as the marketer would have placed it.
Getting the right audience for this promotional strategy may be difficult.
This is a strategy whereby a business uses people to sell their products after meeting face to face with the customer. The sellers promote a given products through their approach and presentation. Some sellers may help the customers with the way the product is used and on how to achieve maximum results when using the product.
Leads to high customer attention
Message can be easily customized to meet a given market demand
Offers a persuasive impact
Helps in developing a good relationship between the company and the consumers
It is labor intensive
It’s quite expensive as compared to other forms of promotional mixes
Can only be used to reach a restricted number of consumers
Overview of Whip Around Fashions
This will be a discounted retail store that provides clothing to America. The clothing will be unsold items from major fashion outlets and department stores. The items are to be affordably priced so that lower income earners could afford them. The store will be mobile in order to reach a large number of consumers and also to offer services to people who are unable to visit the stores physically. Clothing is to be brought to churches and schools once a month by the van. Church members and parents taking their children to school will therefore be able to gain access to the van hence do their shopping more easily. When stores are carrying out their clearance sales, I am able to purchase the unsold clothes in bulk at discounted rates and resell them to customers hence ensuring that many families can gain access to affordable and decent clothing.
IMC approach is becoming more momentous in marketing because of the reduced cost effectiveness of mass media and media disintegration. Consumers usually spend more time online, therefore there is need to tie together most of the brand exposures so that they can be accessed with a lot of ease. Brand strategies cannot also be looked at exclusively at their advertising. More aspects of the brand need to be adequately handled in order to ensure that the consumers get the right information. In order to achieve this all aspects of the communication ecosystem needs to work together (Strokes, 2008). This ensures personalized communication which can be of much use to different types of customers.
There are several changes that have taken place in media industry and advertising which have caused IMC to build up into a primary policy for marketers. IMC helps in creating competitive advantage and increasing sales for a given company. There are various elements of IMC and they are all geared towards promoting sales and hence improve on the viability of a given business. Some of the reasons for choosing the above mentioned elements include:
Helps customers through various stages of buying
Helps in promoting the organization’s image
Increases profits through improved effectiveness
Helps in making messages more consistent hence improving on the credibility of the marketing strategies used
As the product/service grows, different strategies can be implemented. For instance, sales promotions perform very well on clearance sales and when a new product is being introduced into the market. Once the consumers have been familiarized with the new products, sales promotions should be minimized and other elements implemented.
There is no reason people should be without decent clothing. By offering to purchase unsold clothing from area retail store at a bulk, discounted rate, I will be able to resell the same item at a low cost to those who need it. Bringing clothing to locations where the customers are will help many families who otherwise might not have a decent pair of pants or shoes.
The above message can be used to communicate to the final consumers on how the store will benefit them without worrying about the price of the products being offered. The target market is the low income earners and this message communicates directly and more effectively to them. The message also gives a portrayal on what the store managers are doing in order to ensure that every potential consumer is reached.
Internet is a very important tool for the IMC approach. It helps in information dissemination and various elements of IMC can use the internet as their carrier. Through internet integration into the various promotional mixes, information can reach the target market within a very short period of time. Using the internet for various elements of IMC also helps in reducing the cost involved in the promotional mix.
There are various methods that can be used to measure the effectiveness of advertising. These methods can either be direct or indirect. However, direct methods of measuring the effectiveness of ad campaign have produced effective results (McDonald, 2000). Historical sales method is an example of a direct method for measuring the effectiveness of the ad campaign and has produced magnificent results. This method involves measuring the relationship between the expenses incurred during adverts and the total sales of the product. This will help in determining whether the advertising strategy being used is worthwhile or not (Jones, 2005). This method also helps in showing whether there are any increases in sales as a result of implementing a given strategy in advertising. Apart from calculating the profits, this method also helps in showing whether a given strategy increases sales for a particular product.
Clow, Kenneth E.; Baack, Donald (2007) Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications , pp. 107. Prentice Hall PTR
Jones John Philip (2005) : When ads work : new proof that advertising triggers sales,
Lexington Books, New York.
McDonald, Colin (2000), Relationships between advertising exposure and purchasing behaviour, Journal of the Marketing Research Society, pp. 89-91.
Paul (2008) “8 Public Relations Trends to Watch
Strokes, Rob (2008). eMarketing: The Essential Guide To Online Marketing. Quirk eMarketing.
Umiker-Sebeok, Donna Jean (2007). Marketing and Semiotics. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.