Different tools of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is to synergize and start integrating all the communication modes in order to be more competitive in the market place. The important tools of Integrated Marketing Communications are:

1. Advertising

Advertising is the most glamorous and elaborate of all marketing tools. Around the world nearly $500 billion is spent annually on advertising, and that’s just for media time and space! If you add in all, the costs of producing the advertisements and the salaries of people working in the industry, the amount advertising is well over $1 trillion a year. Advertising means different things to different people. It’s a business, an art, an institution and a cultural phenomenon. To a CEO of a multinational corporation, advertising is an essential marketing tool that helps create a brand awareness and loyalty and stimulates demand. To a local restaurant owner, advertising is a way to communicate to the neighborhood. To an art director in an ad agency advertising is the creative expression of a concept. To a media planner, advertising is a way marketer uses the mass media to communicate to current and potential customers.

One definition goes: Advertising is a paid, mass mediated attempt to persuade’ as direct and simple the may seem it is loaded with distinctions. Advertising is paid communication by a company or organizations that wants its information disseminated. In advertising language, the company or organization that pays for advertising is called the sponsor or the client.

Advertising includes an attempt to persuade. To put it bluntly, advertisements are communication designed to get someone to do something. Even an advertisement with the stated objective of being purely informational has persuasion at its core. The advertisements informs the consumer for some purpose, and that purpose is to get the consumer to like the brand and because of that liking to eventually buy the brand. In the absence of this persuasive intent, a communication might be news, but it would not be advertising.

At this point we can say that for a communication to b classified as advertising three essentials criteria must be met:

  • It must be paid for
  • It must be delivered to an audience via mass media.
  • It must attempt to persuade.

2. Public Relations (PR)

As a part of being a good corporate and community citizen, a firm will use public relations (PR) as a way to create a good image and reputation. PR focuses on communication that can foster goodwill between a firm and its many constituent groups. These constituent groups include customers, stockholders, suppliers, employees, government, entities citizen’s actions groups and the general public.

PR is used to highlight positive events in an organization, such as quarterly sales and profits or noteworthy community service programmes carried out by the firm. Conversely it is used strategically for damage control when adversity strikes an organization. PR uses techniques like press releases, newsletters and community events to reach the target audiences. PR is emerging as a more prominent tool in the promotional mix of many firms. As mass media becomes cluttered with ads and as consumers retain a healthy sceptism of advertising, public relations and communication are being viewed as an important addition to the mix.

Objectives of PR:

Within the broad guidelines of image building and establishing relationships with constituents, it is possible to identify six primary objectives:

  • Promoting goodwill
  • Promoting a product or service
  • Preparing internal communications
  • Counteracting negative publicity
  • Lobbying
  • Giving advice and counsel.

3. Personal Selling (PS)

Personal selling is the presentation of information about a firm’s product or services by one person to another person or to a small group of people. Personal selling can be distinguished from all forms of promotion in that it is the only one to one communication that can deliver a completely customized message based on feedback from the receiver of the message. In other words, if you are in the electronics shop considering the purchase of a DVD player, the salesperson can tell you about the different brands and focus the message content on the features of each brand based on questions you ask or information you request. No other form of promotion- not even the Internet can customize messages in this way.

Personal selling is the dominant variable in the promotional mix of any corporate marketers. Complex products and services, high purchase prices, and negotiated contracts warrant the customized communication of personal selling. In business to business markets there are many instances where advertising sales promotion and other promotional mix variables simply do not achieve the needed communication effect. But this is not always the case in business to business sales.

Types of Personal Selling:

  • Order taking: This involves accepting orders for merchandise or scheduling services either in written form or over the telephone. Order takers deal with existing customers who are lucrative to the firm due to low cost f generating revenue this group. Order takers can also deal with new customers which means that they need to be trained well enough to answer any new question a new customer might have about product or services.
  • Creative Selling: This is the type of selling where customers rely heavily on the salesperson for technical information, advice and service.
  • Team Selling: In this, a group of people from different functional areas within the organization is assembled as a team to call on a particular customer. Sales teams are prevalent in the areas of communication equipment, computer installations and manufacturing equipments.
  • Seminar Selling: This is designed to reach a group of customers, rather than an individual customer, with information about the firm’s products or services.
  • System Selling: This type of selling entails selling a set of inters related components that fulfill all or a majority of a customer’s need in a product or service area.

4. Sales Promotion (SP)

Sales Promotion is of four types:

  • Consumer sales promotion: Here the efforts are directed towards the customer. For example: price discounts, freebies
  • Trade Promotion: These are basically done for distributors in order to push sales through margins and discounts.
  • Business to business promotion: Here promotions are between two companies; one company may offer bulk discounts on the purchase of raw materials in large supplies etc.
  • Sales person’s promotions: Here the promotions are targeted to motivate the sale people working for an organization. On achieving their targets, the sales person will win a free holiday or he’ll receive a non monetary benefits, etc.

Sales promotion is the use of the incentive techniques that create a perception of greater brand value among consumers, the trade and business buyers. The intent is to create a short term increase in sales by motivating trail use and encouraging larger or repeat purchases. Free samples, coupons, premiums, sweepstakes and contests, rebates and price discounts are some of the primary methods of sales promotion in the consumer market.

Sales promotion may not seem as stylish and sophistication as mass media advertising, but expenditures on this tool are impressive. It is important to realize that full advertising agencies specializing in advertising planning, creative planning and media placement typically do not prepare sales promotion materials for clients. These activities are normally assigned to sales promotion agencies that specialize in couponing, vent management, premiums or other forms of sales promotion that require specific skills and creative preparation. The rise in the use of sale promotion and the enormous amount of money being spent on various programmes make it one of the most prominent forms of marketing activity.

5. Direct Marketing (DM)

Direct marketing is an interactive system of marketing that uses one or more advertising media to affect a measurable response and or transaction at any location. This definition distinguishes direct marketing from other primary promotional tools in three ways:

  • Direct Marketing uses a combination of media: Any media can be used in a direct marketing, and a combination of media is often used to increase effectiveness.
  • Direct Marketing is often used to elicit a direct response: An example of this would be getting the message receiver to phone or mail in an order .Other forms of promotion like traditional advertising, public relations or an event sponsorship are not designed to elicit immediate action.
  • The buyer’s home by mail or literally any place where the consumer can communicate with the marketer.

Today the primary methods of direct marketing are direct mail, telemarketing, telephone sales solicitation and direct response advertising in magazines, newspapers, and on television and radio.

Online ordering via the internet is another form of direct marketing and has come to known as ‘e-commerce’ because of the totally electronic communication between and buyers and sellers. E-commerce is business conducted between buyers and sellers using electronic exchange media. E-commerce is quickly emerging as a significant form of direct marketing. In addition, trade markets are emerging where buyers in specific industries are creating e-market places to enhance the efficiency of the exchange process.

The Emerging Tools of IMC

  • Road shows
  • Sponsorships
  • Events
  • Point Of purchase

Recommended reading: Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

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