The paper’s main focus is on explaining the importance of communication as one of the elements in the marketing mix concept. It will discuss on the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) approach. The elements of the approach will be well explained, defining each element with their particular advantages and disadvantages put down. The paper looks at a specific product and how the IMC approach can be used to ensure that the product is well marketed. It will further explain the rationale of choosing a particular IMC element thus show how the target market will be reached.
The Integrated Marketing Approach (IMC) has had very many definitions and some scholars think that this has weakened the concept (Duncan & Mulhern, 2004). The recent definition is “the concept and process of strategically managing audience-focused, channel-centered and results-driven brand communication programmes over time (Kliatchko J., 2005). It involves the integration of messages, media and audience or targeted customers. Its main focus is to ensure that the message sent suits and is clearly understood by the targeted audiences. A strong IMC strategy makes relationships with different audiences to gain knowledge of their desires, preferences and feedback patterns.
Aspects of IMC
There are several elements of the communication mix: advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations or publicity and personal selling. Advertising is the presentation of a service or product to persuade a person to purchase. A product can be advertised using media channels like televisions, radios, internet, newspapers, posters, magazines and brochures. The choice of the advertising medium depends on the audience an organization wants to reach. Then, it is important for the organization to identify its customer target and the easiest way to reach them. The advantage of advertising is that one can reach a huge number of customers especially in places where technology is of a high standard. The disadvantages are; it is an expensive method, feedback from the customers is not fast enough and sometimes the customer can find it hard to understand the message of the advertisement.
Direct marketing involves sending messages directly to customers without the use of a medium. It follows the “call-to-action” approach where the seller speaks to the customer and gets immediate response about the product. Forms of direct marketing include: telemarketing, direct mail, email marketing and broadcast faxing. The seller is able to get direct feedback of how popular the product is by looking at the number of customers who have purchased the product. The strategy is quite expensive and some customers find it a nuisance when they get emails from companies promoting their products.
Sales promotion is used by an organization to create or increase consumer demand for a product. Techniques used by most companies include: scratch and win, free sample, premiums or bonus offers, exchange schemes and trading stamps. There is immediate feedback on the popularity of the product to the seller as one can count the number of sales made in a particular moment. It is also an easy way to introduce new products in the market. The biggest disadvantage is that the customers can feel that they are being disturbed when asked to buy products.
Personal selling is also used by organizations to ensure products are sold. The seller is able to execute the sale and complete it. It involves an agreement between the buyer and the seller and the transfer of ownership of a product at a particular price. It can be done by: direct sales, sales using agents, door-to-door sales persons, business-to-business and pro forma sales. Its major advantage is that the seller is able to get customer reaction to the product immediately. Moreover, the seller is able to know the target customer or audience and what they really require. The disadvantage of the approach is that many customers ignore the sales persons because they find them a nuisance.
The bathing soap is in three different forms; natural tri-soap, sensitive skin and sun screening tri-soap. They have the same brands but their contents are different to suite the different skin types that people have.
For the product to sell, the IMC strategy must be followed. The first step in IMC strategy is to know the target consumer and how to reach them. For this product, the target consumer is young girls, ladies and women. Females are beauty conscious and they value what they use for their skin. Many women know their skin types; that is why there are specifications for all the three bathing soaps.
The organization has good public relations skills thus has gained rapport to the rest of the public regarding its production of good products. It will give the new bathing soap a very good chance of gaining publicity. First of all, to know if the product is very much appreciated, free samples will be offered for every other company’s products sold. It will give the consumer a chance to try out the product. From this, sales persons will have to use questionnaires to find out how they find the product. From the rate at which the products are bought from the retailers will be a good insight of how the product is liked (Tymson and Peter, 2006).
When the product gains publicity and its maturity levels are high, there must be changes to be made. The changes will include an addition of two other soaps of the same brand name but with different functions and creation of a mild baby soap of the same brand. The consumers have to be notified of the changes that have been made on their favorite product thus various communication channels have to be used. A message that is clear and easy to understand has to be passed to the consumers. The massage will contain the type of the product and its functions. The mentioning that it is a new product will capture the consumers and they will be interested to know how it works and its target. Modes of communication will be advertising in the television and radio shows. Promoting radio shows and giving free hampers for individuals who win a particular context via the radio will be a good strategy to communicate about the new products.
The internet services will be used to enhance IMC for the product by allowing customers to log in the website of the organization. Immediately one logs in, the information about the new product will be displayed. There will be specific options; if one wants to know more about the product they just click on the tabs. There will be an option of purchasing the product via the internet. For any inquiries, the customer will find an email address to ask any questions related to the product they want to buy. Email marketing can be effective for customers will be sent for emails about the products.
It is important to choose a suitable method of measuring advertising effectiveness of a particular product. It will enable the producer to know if the consumers understand the advertisement or if it has reached the targeted scope. The Perception/Experience/Memory (P/E/M) model can be used to measure the effectiveness of advertising. It incorporates emotions, feelings and experiences that a customer faces due to the advertisement. It explains that the advertisements do affect the consumers psychologically and the first advertisement of a product is a great determinant of the sale of the product.
It further shows that the first time a consumer comes in contact with a product, it remains in their memory. If the advertisement was not easy to understand then purchasing of the product will be minimal and vice versa. The model aids in showing if the consumers have a good view of the product and it is well registered in their minds. It also captures the behavior of those individuals who buy a product immediately they see an advertisement. The model is effective because it tends to capture the experience of the target consumer faces at each advertisement phase; pre-experience, actual experience and post-experience of a product advertisement (Bruce F., 2001).
Communication is an important element in any kinds of relationships and so is the producer-consumer relationship. The consumer has more say in what must and how something will be produced. Even though it is hard to understand the concept of IMC, organizations need to try and use the little knowledge they have to enhance there product sales. It is important to keep the consumer’s interest at large. Constant review of what consumers prefer should be made by organizations. It will be a good way to fight competition from rival companies.
- Duncan, T.R. & Mulhern, F. (2004) A White Paper on the Status, Scope and Future of IMC. USA: McGraw-Hill.
- Kliatchko, J. (2005). Towards a new definition of integrated marketing communications. International Journal of Advertising, 24(1), pp. 7–34
- Tymson, Candy; and Peter Lazar (2006). Public Relations Manual. Sydney: Tymson Communications.