COMMUNICATING WITH THE CUSTOMER
1.0 What is Integrated Marketing Communication?
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“Integrated marketing communication simply recognises the need to plan and build-up all relevant marketing communications so that they work together in harmony to greatest effect with the greatest efficiency”
Pickton and Broderick (2001)
In its simplest form, it is the “process of integrating all elements of marketing communications mix across all customer contact points to achieve greater brand coherence”
Pickton and Broderick (2001)
1.1 The importance of IMC
Major corporations and their partners have adopted IMC, and according to the Advertising Age, a recent survey called it the single most important influence on strategic decision-making today.
1.2 The benefits of IMC
“The principal benefit derived from the integration of marketing communication is synergy. Synergy has been described as the 2+2=5 phenomenon. By bringing together the various facets of marketing communications in a mutually supportive and enhancing way then the resulting ‘whole’ is more than the simple sum of its parts.” (Pickton and Broderick 2001). This can be seen when looking at a television advertisement and the images and messages carried through it. “Each element enhances and supports the other.”
“Linton and Morley (1995) list ten potential benefits of integrated marketing communications.” The benefits are not always easy to achieve because of “difficulties in implementation”
· Creative Integrity
· Consistent Messages
· Unbiased Marketing Recommendations
· Better Use of Media
· Greater Marketing Precision
· Operational Efficiency
· Cost Savings
· High-calibre consistent service
· Easier working relations
· Greater agency accountability
Pickton and Broderick (2001)
1.3 IMC’s role in the Market place
IMC has an increasingly central role to play in today’s market place, because if offers companies a way to strategically coordinate messages and establish a meaningful dialogue with customers. In short, IMC provides organisations with a strategic method for both establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders. And this is essential for marketing success in the twenty-first century.
1.4 The Drivers of IMC
The marketplace is changing. What was once a single audience has fragmented and companies have to establish and maintain brand relationships with a variety of groups of people-customers, as well as other stakeholders, such as employees, investors, suppliers and distributors, local communities, and the media.
Organisations now have to communicate with these groups using a wide variety of media. Consequently there are more kinds of messages than ever before and inconsistency can become a company-wide problem. That is why IMC is also needed to coordinate communication consistency
Because the mass media now have considerably less importance than they have had in the past, dialogue is becoming increasingly critical in this marketplace. That means that companies can no longer rely only on one-way communication targeted to large groups of customers. To be successful now, organizations must not only be able to target messages to individual customers, but also to listen and respond to all their stakeholders. That means they must know who these people are, and the key to that is database-driven communication.
IMC is critical to brand relationship programs, because it provides the skills and new ways of thinking that are necessary if organizations are to create and successfully manage dialogue with customers and other key stakeholders.
1.5 Integrated Marketing Communications provides a framework for managing brand contacts.
We all know the importance of branding out product or service, we also know the importance of maintaining a dialogue with our stakeholder relationship marketing, one-to-one, the voice of the customer, and most of us believe in communication consistency. However, these are only techniques that often fail to when practised without clear philosophy, or if not supported by integrated process. At a minimum, IMC provides and underlying model by:
· Identifying your Stakeholders
· Identifying your Brand contacts
· Analysing Communications amongst Customers At Each Brand Contact
· Encouraging Dialogue At Each Brand Contact
· Aligning Brand Contact Communications
1.6 Identifying Your Stakeholder
IMC encourages you to identify all customers both internal and external – employees, management, owners, shareholders, clients, suppliers, regulators, the community, and of course, “the buyers” – current, past and present.
1.7 Identifying Stakeholder-Brand Contacts
IMC also seeks to identify all the ways in which our stakeholder come into contact at each contact point, including:
· Employee to Employee
· Employee to Customer
· The Product Packaging
· External and Internal Marketing Communication (Advertising, PR, Brochures, Policy Manuals, The Mission Statement etc)
· The Store, Office, Vehicles etc
1.8 The Importance of Dialogue
While dialogue is communication, not all communication is dialogue. IMC attempts to maximise two-way communication and IMC driven research should identify and be a part of the potential for dialogue whenever possible. Some of the basics include:
· Using your database to not only sell to your customers, but to listen to your customers – Database Research
· Providing the mechanism for and encouraging all customers to communicate with the organisation, then integrate this feedback into the market research function.
1.9 Market Research and the Internal Auditing IMC
In order to maximise its value, market research should integrate the auditing of internal communication on several levels:
· Is there an agreement across the functional areas regarding the mission of the organisation? Its values? Its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? (SWOT analysis)
· Are the various functional areas communicating with each other regarding marketing messages?
· Are there clear policies for handling suggestions, complaints, inquiries and other forms of customer communication?
· What are the actual messages being sent via marketing, advertising, signage and promotion? (Content analysis)
2.0 Market Research as Communication Alignment
If one accepts the view that there are many customers, many brand contacts, and that there is the communication of some type at every customer-brand contact point, then the role of market research within the framework of Integrated Marketing Communication is clear – market research should be the centrepiece of an IMC effort. Effective market research should provide your management team with the data necessary to align your organisation’s communications across all brand contacts, thereby strengthening your brand.
2.1Why Use Integrated Marketing Communication?
To be effective, marketing has to be part of a larger whole – it is not enough these days to print a corporate brochure and expect significant results. To design integrated marketing communications, you need to collaborate with the management team to ensure every part of the operation is brought together to build your brand. IMC will help you to:
· Assess your markets and set your objectives
· Hone your communication messages and target key stakeholders
· Leverage your resources
· Build you internal databases and marketing resources
· Tie together the tone and style of all your corporate communications, collateral and advertising.
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