Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a term used to describe the communication tools which help channel the messages intended by the marketers through various tools and with the usage of comprehensive plans and schemes that incorporate the objectives of a marketing campaigns. (Belch GE, Belch MA, 2008). IMC is a discipline which seeks to develop the marketing strategies which help promote a good or a service in the desired way which marketers want and works to ensure that the methods used to do so are in lined with the customs and traditions of the place where marketing and promotion of a certain product is being done. (Kitchen P & Pelsmacke PD 2004).
IMC, tactically is a way of putting together the functions of marketing into one single form and using the marketing techniques and methods to achieve the desired level of response from the target customers. IMC involves combination of strategies which are used to communicate the messages of marketers with the use of various sources and methods. IMC strategies start from designing the product, analyzing the target market, conducting researches, budgeting and planning, overcoming the technological and cultural barriers and hence communicating the product to prospects.
IMC operates in macro and micro environments which mean the outer and inner spheres of an organisation and the immediate context of communication in an organisation respectively. The example of macro environment in IMC is the use of consumer magazines. These magazines provide a way of fine communication amongst the people and the organisations. To consumers, magazines are a source of boredom alleviation and a hind sight to know about the product which the organisation wants to sell.
They perform the function of awareness for the consumers and help the organisation understand the changing demands of the customers. (Kitchen P & Pelsmacke PD 2004) Magazines being easy to use, mobile and flexible to read are the vast effecting medium of communication used by the organisations. Some famous magazines like Readers Digest, New York Times display the example of widely read and used magazines. The Tools of Integrated Marketing Communication: There are seven basic tools employed by IMC to perform the function of communication.
In order to understand them, understanding communication is more important. Communication can be defined as a process in which a sender and receiver involve in the activity of sending and receiving a ‘message’ through a certain ‘channel’. Feedback is the result of communication process which a receiver sends to a sender. (Schultz DE, Tannenbaum SI, Lauterborn RF, 1993). The marketing communication mix includes Advertisements, Sale Promotion, Personal Selling (PR), Sponsorship, Packaging and Direct Marketing (DM).
These tools together perform the functions of IMC that is to communicate the desired message of marketers to the target audience who are the prospective and potential buyers of the product which is being sold. (Schultz D, Schultz H 2004) These are the six basic communication methods which are used in IMC to communicate to the target audience and help in selling the product to them. (Belch GE, Belch MA, 2008). Drivers of Integrated Marketing Communication: IMC is a discipline which is only a decade old. The old 4Ps of marketing mix, that are, product, price, place, promotion have all been combined into one P, i. . , Promotion.
Its promotion of the product which needs the basic communication processes and for which organisations incur huge expenses with one single target. (Pickton D, Broderick A, 2005). They need their product to be known and they want it be sold. Previously, marketing the product was the function of marketing department of an organisation only. (Cornelissen, P. J. & Lock, R. A. 2000). Organisations used to contact agencies to have their product promoted amongst the masses and to let the customers be aware of their existence in the market. (Schultz, D. E. 1996).
PR that existed in those days too, but marketers and organisations over looked the fact that they can amalgamate both the functions and enhance further tools to achieve better results in the field of marketing communications. Globalization has made competition severe and tough. Organisations now bring offers for the customer which can not only satisfy their prospect customers but also delight them.
In this endeavour, the organisations work hard to make sure that their product is communicated properly and the customers are aware of their presence. Schultz DE, Tannenbaum SI, Lauterborn RF, 1993). Introducing promotional schemes and introducing personal selling with the help of attractive packaging and designs, products speak volumes about themselves, and expertise in PR, Sponsors, Personal selling and glamorous yet classy adverts in print, electronic mediums have paved way for marketers to enhance their marketing campaigns and their marketing plans. All of this is possible only when the concept of completion is hatched. (Percy L, 2008)
Barriers to Integrated Marketing Communication: Even though IMC has opened avenues for organisations to conduct businesses world wide, there are few barriers which have to be encountered while using IMC methods. The most important issue is high costs. Advertisements and sponsorships land down heavy on organisations. Advertisements are expensive, and have to be made with careful vigilance to ensure that the adverts communicate the desired message properly. Sponsorship is costly for the organisations and it has to be done for few activities and has to be done very carefully.
Hence budgeting is one of the prime barriers as it comes to allotting a considerable chunk of finances to marketing communications. (Pickton D, Broderick A, 2005). Organisational structure is one barrier too. Some organisations are rigid in their structures and they tend to stay the same. (Pickton D, Broderick A, 2005). IMC tackles with the integration of all the departments together to work in a cohesive and coordinated environment. If organisations do not want to change their structure, IMC will be futile to implement and they won’t enjoy the benefits of it. Schultz D, Schultz H 2004) Some internal and external factors also tend to hamper the activities of IMC.
Culture can be one of them. It is very important for the organisation and the agency to know what promotional scheme they are using and whether it is in alignment with the culture existing in a country. Wrong wordings or inappropriate signs can disrupt the image of the organisation and people of the country can sue the company too. Such precautions have to be taken in account and can become a barrier to IMC. (Smith PR, Taylor J, 2004)
Integrated Marketing Communications and the Academic Acceptance: IMC has emerged as a discipline in the last decade. The new subject has come to be of great importance for the marketers and organisational managers who want to take full benefit of Integrated Marketing Communications. (Schultz DE & Kitchen P 1998, p 7-19). The in coherent and uncoordinated departments of the organisations can now assimilate together to produce synergies and can work together to have their product sold in the market. (Percy L, 2008)
IMC promotes focus of customer on the product. With the use of various methods and careful planning like the use of AIDA model, FCB Grid marketers can ensure that customers have their complete focus on the product they are trying to sell. After all, marketing is all about communication. (Percy L, 2008) (Cornelissen, P. J. & Lock, R. A. 2000, p 7-15). In academic arena, IMC has created a benchmark for the people as this new discipline has created avenues for further enhancements in marketing techniques. (Schultz DE, Tannenbaum SI, Lauterborn RF, 1993).
Even though few marketers believe that IMC is no different from normal marketing activities and it is more or less same, but the question is: ‘Is IMC no different from Marketing? ’ (O’Brien EM & Hart SJ 1999, p 77-89) The questions needs to be addressed, and the answer to it is that Marketing is different from IMC. Marketing differs from IMC because: • Marketing deals with only one aspect of promotion, just as a ‘P’ of the marketing mix. It does not co ordinate promotion as a part of communication process.
Promotional techniques are limited to personal selling and sales promotions. (Schultz D, Schultz H 2004) IMC takes cultural differences while designing the marketing campaign in order to avoid. It also helps reduce the incoherency in organization by creating cross functional teams in organization so that the employees in the organization work hand in hand towards the product communication and creating synergy and increasing customer focus. (Percy L, 2008) Considering these factors, we can assumed and said that IMC must be accepted a separate discipline and it has its own importance which can be seen in today’s world where marketing process has been ignited with raging competition. (Schultz D, Schultz H 2004)