Despite of the increasing use of the term “integrated marketing communications” by both, the practitioners and the academics in recent years, there is little agreement on what term actually means. According to a recent view, at least two related ideas are involved:-
1. One-Voice Marketing Communications
As consumers increasingly begin to be addressed by the same marketer in a variety of different ways – through image building advertising sales promotions, point of sale material, collateral material (e.g. brochures and catalogs), and sales force calls – there is the obvious need to ensure a consistency of positioning, message, and tone across these different media. Such consistency is a vital element of brand building. Ideally, these different communications would all begin from the same vision of what the consumer was supposed to be hearing from the marketer so that they all operate seamlessly, reaching the consumer with one voice. At the very least, this implies that the different marketing communications elements – mass media advertising, direct marketing, sales promotions, package graphics, point of sale material, events, trade shows, employee communications, and the public relations – need to be created in a tightly coordinated manner by the many different agencies and organizations.
2. Integrated Communications
A marketer’s consumer communications need to not only raise the brand awareness, or create or change brand preference and image, or to get sales trial or repurchase, but to do all of the above at the same time.
Direct marketing is one of the communications that aims to evoke action. Its distinctive features are the ability to target small segments of consumers, to measure response to different offers, and to build customer data bases. Direct marketing ads try to get consumers to respond immediately by building confidence providing information, making it easy to order, involving customers in the order process and creating a sense of urgency.
Sales promotions can be designed to create trial purchase, to stimulate short –term sales, to enhance purchase volume or brand loyalty, or to affect the brand image. Consumer promotional devices like coupons, samples, price packs, premiums, and sweepstakes. Trade promotions attempt to obtain or maintain shelf space, build retail inventory, get retail push, and lower retail prices.
Retails ads aim both to build the store’s image and to create immediate sales, through building store traffic. Co-op ads, paid for by both the retailer and the manufacturer, are another important form of advertisement. Reminder advertising seeks to maintain top of mind awareness, through high frequency and other visibility enhancing means.
Public relations as part of marketing tries to increase the credibility of a marketer’s communications by appearing subtly in a third part editorial vehicle. Techniques include news and editorial mentions, even and sponsorships, product placement, contests, and cause-related marketing.
The emerging discipline and philosophy of integrated marketing communications tries to make all these elements work with one voice and in mutually reinforcing ways. A detailed IMC plan for every brand and situation need to be though through. They problems issues in its implementation are those of training and organization, both external and internal.