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So you think you know Marketing? – our guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

by Charlie Caruso on April 2, 2013
Business

You can spot those who have done a marketing degree (or part thereof) a mile away – the giveaway is their use of irrelevant marketing jargon like “point of difference” and “call to action”. These words are used to fool those who don’t have a similar degree into thinking they know more then we do, but those who actually understand marketing and how it can benefit your organisation will be able to explain it without using these words. For those who haven’t done a commerce, marketing or business degree, sometimes disseminating the difference between the major forms of marketing communications can be tricky. In my post I will attempt to explain the core forms of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) without the use of spin.

So what IS marketing exactly? Well, as defined by my trusted University textbook, marketing consists of the marketing mix strategies that organisations develop to transfer value, through exchange, to their customers (Chitty, Barker, Valos, & Shrimp, 2012). Translated, it’s what you use when you want to send your customers a message about how great your organisation is and why they need to direct their consumerism-driven cravings your way to buy your product/service.

Marketing communications is a critical aspect of a company’s overall marketing mission and a major determinant of its success in a market (Chitty, Barker, Valos, & Shrimp, 2012). But you already knew that right?

So what are the major forms of marketing communications?

  1. Advertising – a form of static, mass communication in form of an image, audio or visual message. Organisations develop their message, produce it on their desired medium (this would be mail outs, TV advert, radio advert, magazine or newspaper print advert, and replicate that same message/image/visual/audio numerous times to the consumer. These are considered non-personal because the organisation is simultaneously communicating with multiple receivers (perhaps millions), rather than a specific person or a small group, and they cannot guarantee who exactly will view the advertisement, e.g. a billboard advertisement, while it can be viewed by a higher number of people, there is no guarantee that a certain target demographic will view it or respond to it. This form of marketing is useful for organisations like fast food chains where they target most demographics, thus in this case mass communication is more useful than direct marketing. Advertising is designed to accomplish communication objectives, such as creating brand awareness and additionally to influence consumer attitudes toward the brand/product/service. It is useful for brand/product awareness but its effectiveness can be fickle and there are not guarantees to be a sale conversion from advertising.
  2. Direct marketing – the use of several types of media to reach consumers and encourage them to purchase or take some form of immediate response, and unlike advertising, it’s an interactive process rather than being a one way form of communication. Database marketing is an integral part of direct marketing because it provides companies with information that allows them to profile their customers and to establish long-term relationships. An example of direct marketing would also be using sponsored advertisements on Facebook where organisations can choose the demographics of those the sponsored ad is targeted to. This tends to be a more effective method to generate sales conversion as your organisation is typically targeting those they know have a high interest in the product or service and who have a higher chance of buying.
  3. Sales promotions – this refers to all marketing activities that attempt to directly stimulate buyer action or an immediate sale. Examples of Consumer Orientated sales promotions include using price reductions, free samples, contests/sweepstakes, coupons and rebates in an effort to encourage consumers to buy. Consumer promotions are important as they offer a solution to accomplish goals that advertising by itself cannot achieve. Sales promotions can be extremely valuable, and if designed and delivered correctly, can be a great way to build year-over-year and month-over-month revenue growth.
  4. Sponsorship Marketing – the practice of promoting the interests of a company and its brand by associating the company and its brands with a specific event. This form of marketing can be extremely valuable for some organisations, and less so for others. It’s a matter of finding the right fit for the brand and the event, and essentially what that boils down to is whether or not their target demographic is interested in the event, and therefore will be exposed to the brand by association with the event, and for the event organisers, potential revenue OR assistance with supplies, promotion, equipment, staff etc.
  5. Marketing public relations (MPR) – like advertising, MPR involves non-personal brand exposure, but unlike advertising, it is not paid for. This can be a good and a VERY bad thing. When it’s good, MPR consists of favourable news items or editorial comments about an organisation’s product or services that receive free print space or broadcast time because a journalist considers the content newsworthy, however, in order to be credible, the report must remain unbiased and ‘not paid for’ by the company receiving the publicity (despite most glossy magazines who actively ignore this point). However, as the coverage or ‘PR’ is constructed without the interjection of the organisation, if the message or organisation itself if misconstrued or taken out of context could potentially be very damaging to the brand, and the public’s perception  of it, which could prove extremely costly to rectify.
  6. Personal Selling – this strategy is based on person-to-person communication, where the salesperson informs, educates and persuades prospective buyers to purchase the company’s products or services. One key advantage personal selling has over other promotional methods is that it is a two-way form of communication. Many non-personal forms of promotion, such as a radio advertisement, are inflexible, at least in the short-term, and cannot be easily adjusted to address audience questions. The interactive nature of personal selling also makes it the most effective promotional method for building relationships with customers, particularly in the business-to-business market. This is especially important for companies that either sell expensive products or sell lower cost but high volume products (i.e., buyer must purchase in large quantities) that rely heavily on customers making repeat purchases. Many people know that sales success often requires the marketer to develop and maintain strong relationships with members of the purchasing company, and personal selling can offer a great method to achieve that.
  7. Point-of-Purchase communications – this includes in-store displays, posters, signs and other materials that are designed to influence consumer buying decisions at the point of purchase. This form of marketing can be really powerful for those who are selling tangible products that aren’t too bulky and are mass produced. In order for it to be effective, the organisation must first determine where their target market shops, and if it’s online, that’s ok too, advertise on the websites your target market frequents. If your target shoppers only venture to the stores to go food shopping, place your items there or wherever it is you determine is the places your consumers frequent.

The effectiveness of IMC involves using different types of communication medium and in order for it to be beneficial to your organisation, one must understand the brands’ marketing environment, target market, their behaviours in order to integrate the assorted communication media to effectively influence the consumer’s decision making. Hopefully this article has provided you with a quick rundown on the basics of marketing, which might allow you to better understand what is being talked about at the next meeting on marketing.

My advice, go for the mixed bag, select the lollies appropriate for you and your product or service, don’t select only one kind of lolly and make sure you understand your customers’ tastes before you invest in ANY lolly assortment, make sure they complement one another!

Charlotte Caruso

Charlotte Caruso is an energetic and emerging force currently taking on media industry, and she has not allowed her age or busy family hold her back.

Charlotte originally launched her university career by studying Media, Journalism and PR at Murdoch University, before deciding that media wasn’t really her thing, as the thought of having some editor tell her what was “news” and the notion to be restricted by what she could cover was not the career for her.

[toggle_simple title=”Click here to read more about Charlotte” width=”Width of toggle box”]

Charlotte has gained valuable business knowledge from her International Business Studies (Major in Chinese Business) and from working her way up from temp receptionist to company administrator of an International conglomerate by age 18, where she regularly travelled overseas, presenting to boards and directors of multinational firms in Malaysia. Additionally Charlotte gained invaluable business knowledge by working alongside Executive Director Mark V. Caruso of Allied Gold Limited, whereby Mr. Caruso mentored her and provided her with key insight into the international corporate world.

However, Charlotte’s thirst for knowledge and strong desire to inform and educate those around her about important matters seemed to have caught up with her when in 2011, exacerbated by the standards of radio content in Western Australia, she founded PuggleFM, an online radio station for families. PuggleFM streams music internationally, has an impressive international following and currently 11 podcast channels, covering a wide range of topics for parents, all of which are available on iTunes. Since its 2011 inception, PuggleFM has experienced impressive growth, and has witnessed a 100% growth in website hits since its July 2012 launch.

Charlotte also formed the Incorporated NFP organization, Puggle Pals and IMPACT (Invested Members Protecting All Children Together) which was established to provide important educational and health messages to the public, and support those emerging talent who are similarly dedicated in doing so, by establishing the Puggle Potential Awards in 2013, for young, aspirant journalists committed to the same goals as Puggle Pals Inc.

In February 2013, Charlotte was a finalist in the Australian Excellence Awards – Women in Business division, as well as being nominated for Telstra Women Awards, and is a regular contributor for award winning business blog Leaders in Heels.[/toggle_simple]

Credit image: cuorhome

Charlie Caruso
Charlie Caruso is the Editor and Co-Author of Understanding Y, a book she produced alongside 15 leading inter-generational commentators that reveals the secrets of how to engage, attract and communicate with Gen Y. Charlie is also the Founder of PuggleFM, an award-winning online radio station and podcast portal for parents and families
 
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