The concept and content of integrated marketing communications

Effective communications of the company are one of the main conditions for its competitiveness on the modern market. Its relevant application and management causes significant opportunities for influencing the consumerκ and building relationships with them. Along with the traditional tools of marketing communications, we have studied modern approaches to the company's message delivering, making it more client- oriented and personalized. We considered the main components of the integrated marketing communications concept, outlined its role and objectives in the system of marketing of enterprises. The basic tools of marketing communications and also modern possibilities of their effective application are also considered. This approach allows to provide more qualitative interaction and to achieve results in communications with consumers.

Current development of market relations requires use of marketing techniques in the company's activity. Due to the necessity to compete on non-price term on the market, where the communications factor is involved, the role of communication environment building is expanding fundamentally.

In today's market it is important to build relations and communications with the internal and external audiences, employees and clients, for the promotion on product and services markets. One of the most significant factors in achieving its comprehensive coverage is marketing communications as an element of the marketing mix, providing the most impact on the company's target audience.

The marketing communications are at the core of promotion process of the company, which is aimed at the development of sustainable links with the market. That links are formed to inform, persuade and remind of the company and to promote sales of gods or services, creating positive image of the company. The means of promotion are the advertisement, PR, direct marketing and sales promotion.

There are four main marketing communications roles according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM):

  1. Differentiate - a product/brand (to make it different from a competitor's one or seem different through effective positioning).
  2. Remind – and reassure a target audience with regard to the benefits (to encourage initial or subsequent purchase).
  3. Inform – a target audience by providing new information (about a product/brand).
  4. Persuade – an audience to take a particular set of actions (e.g. purchase a product or services) [1; 35]. Studies on marketing communications theory and practice were conducted by such foreign authors as
  5. Blake, A. Bond, J. Burnett, E. Dihtl, T. Harris, P. Kotler, Lambin, С. Larson, S. Moriarty, L. Percy,J.R. Rossiter, W. Wells. In this field were carried out considerable researches that have become the basis for the implementation of marketing communications policy.

The first author who introduced the idea of integrated approach to marketing communications was T. Levitt in 1962 as a concept of centralized marketing. According to this concept the company is to asset all its commercial efforts, which include promotional messages, product design, packaging, design of the sale places and etc. All the messages should be coordinated, mutually reinforcing, to communicate fully a consistent corporate image [2].

The development of the concept of the integrated approach has led to the establishment of the integrated marketing communications concept. However, most of the works focus the general theory of marketing communications and its components such as PR, advertisement. Some studies addresses theoretical and practical problems of integrated marketing communications implementation, in particular, its components, organization and planning process.

Significant contribution to the development of IMC (integrated marketing communications) concept have been made by American (R.F. Lauterborn, S.I. Tannenbaum, D.E. Schultz) and European (P.R. Smith, C. Berry, A. Pulford) scholars, who fist applied systematic approach in designing the company's promotion policy. Among Russian authors this area of marketing communications has been studied by E.N. Holubkova, A.A. Romanov, A.V. Panko, E.A. Sotnikova, E. Popova, T.O. Primak, E.V. Romat, S.V. Kozlov.

There are different interpretations of IMC in the conceptual advances of foreign authors as well as views on its components (Table 1).

Table 1 Definitions of integrated marketing communications

Author

Definitions of integrated marketing communications

Components of IMC

1

2

3

D.E. Schultz [3]

  • Concept of marketing communication planning that combine and evaluate strategic role of different communication discipline to get the clarity, consistency and greater impact (1993).
  • All consistent interactions a stakeholder has with an organization (1998)

Concept of MC planning, interaction in coordinated manner with all parties concerned

T.A. Shimp [4; 5]

  • An organization's unified, coordinated effort to promote a brand concept through the use of multiple communication tools that «speak with one voice» (1997).
  • Integrated marketing communication represents the planning, creation, integration and implementation of all contact points which a consumer has with a certain brand, as potential distribution channels, for messages which may influence directly or indirectly the purchasing process (2010) [5]

Coordination of brand promotion, use of marketing communications tools for unified message

P.R. Smith [6]

The strategic analysis, choice, implementation and control of all elements of marketing communications which efficiently (best use of resources), economically (minimum costs) and effectively (maximum results) influence transactions between an organization and its existing and potential customers and clients (1999)

Strategic analysis of marketing communication, its economical efficiency and effectiveness in transaction with all parties involved.

P. Kotler [7; 114]

The concept under which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message about the organization and its products (2006)

Coordination and integration of all channels, delivering unified message

D. Pickton,

A. Broderick [4; 5]

The coordination of all promotional activities to produce a unified, customer-focused promotional message (2001)

Coordination of all advertisement, client oriented marketing

C. Fill [4; 5]

The harmonization of customer-orientated promotional messages (2002)

Harmonization of messages, client oriented marketing

End of Table 1

1

2

3

K. Raman, P.A. Naik [8]

An IMC program plans and executes various marketing activities with consistency so that its total impact exceeds the sum of each activity (2005)

Consistency and synergy of marketing

W. Pride, O.C. Ferrel [9]

A process where the organization of promotional aspects and other marketing related efforts to satisfy the maximum persuasive and informative impact on customers. The eventual role of the IMC is to convey a consistent message to customers (2006)

Organization of marketing activities for achieving maximum influence on customers

S.K. Jones,

D.A.V. Schee

[10]

A combination of direct marketing, general advertising, sales promotion and public relations (2008)

Combination of marketing activities

S.I. Tannen-baum

[11]

Concept of marketing communication planning that recognize the added value of the comprehensive plan that evaluate the strategic roles of variety of communication disciplines(general advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations) and combine these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communication impact (1993)

The planning, analysis of marketing communications

T. Duncan,

C. Caywood [12]

The process of managing all sources of information about a product/services to which a customer or prospect is exposed which behaviorally moves the consumer toward a sale and maintains customer loyalty (1996)

The information management in order to achieve loyalty

M. Ots,

G. Nyilasy [13]

An audience driven business process of strategically managing stakeholders, content, channels, and results of brand communication programs (2015)

An audience driven strategic management of all communications

E.A. Sotnikova,

M.E. Zyikova

[14]

The planning and realization of all MC forms needed for brand, service or company promotion in order to support unified positioning (2009)

The MC planning, unified positioning

A.A. Romanov,

A.V. Panko [15; 11]

The kind of communication and marketing activity that differs in its synergetic effect, emerging as a result of optimal combination of advertisement, sales promotion, PR and other communication tools and integration of all separate messages (2006)

Synergy in communications and marketing, optimal combination of all company messages

E.N. Holubkova

[16]

The integration of all the MC elements that effects all the transactions between organization and its present and potential customers (2003)

Integration of all MC elements, efficiency in all transactions

T.O. Primak [17]

Identifies the integration of components of marketing communications. It distinguishes three levels of the synergetic effect: the effect of the interaction of the structural elements of a single marketing message, the effect of the integrated use of marketing communication tools, the effect of the communication resources of all elements of the enterprise's management system (2003)

Integration of MC, its synergetic effect, complex use of MC tools for maximum efficiency

E.V. Romat [18; 294]

The concept of marketing communication planning, proceeding from the necessity of the assessment of strategic role of MC separate tools (advertisement, PR, sales promotion, direct marketing) (2002)

Concept of MC planning and the strategic assessment of its tools

S.V. Kozlov

[19; 13]

The independent management function on establishment and maintenance of communications between organization and public (2013)

The establishment and maintenance of communications

Note. Complied by the authors.

The reviewed definitions led to determination of main conditions of IMC formation. However, there is no unified approach to the scientific definition on IMC concept. According to the mentioned authors the following main components of IMC can be highlighted:

  • Planning and coordination omarketing communications;
  • Consistency of marketing activity;
  • The developing communications between all parties involved;
  • Combined application of marketing communications;
  • Synergy of marketing communications; unified positioning;
  • Strategic analysis of marketing communications;

Therefore, the scientific literature analysis shows that IMC are based on following principles:

  • IMC integrate the business strategy as a whole for the formation of the unified and consistent message;
  • Coordinate all the marketinactivities of the company in complex application of marketing communications;
  • Establish a contact with customers and all audiences, creating a dialogue;
  • Build communications in a way that influences the individual customer in order to build loyalty.

In the formation of IMC the main components appears to be the mutual support and integration of all elements. Joint communication activities cause an effect exceeding its simple addition. IMC aim is to achieve the synergy, which is one othe ways to increase the efficiency of marketinactivities. Synergism is the excess of cumulative effect of communications used for company's product promotion over the effect of separate communication components [15; 33].

According to P. Kotler synergetic effect is the effect of cooperation of the integrated marketing activities of different kind united by one purpose. A. Broderick adds that synergy is achieved with the use of marketing communication elements by their mutual support. In the result the general effect of cooperation can exceed the effect caused by its separate components [20; 6] (Fig. 1).

The reviewed IMC formulations resulted in identification of its following aims:

In our view, the focus on the specified aims defines its essence. The achievinof communication efficiency implies qualitative, persuasive transmission of a unified message about the product or company to the target audience. The main criteria for communication effectiveness are the increasing consumer awareness, strengthening intention to purchase and direct support in the acquisition of goods. The company's economic efficiency means maximizing profits as a result of marketing activities in the framework of IMC. By strategic efficiency we define the ability to strategically plan and analyze marketing activities of the company by combining and integrating various elements of marketing communications.

Therefore, integrated marketing communications (IMC) constitute a system of information and communication impact on the target audience, which results in a synergy from the integrated application of marketing communications tools and the integration of all separate messages of the company.

Traditionally, there are severaelements in the marketing communications, which are in constant interaction between company and its external and internal environment. These elements include according to advertising, sales promotion, sponsorship, public relations, direct marketing, and personal selling (D. Pickton and A. Broderick, P. Kotler, K.L. Keller, J-J. Lambin). According to S.I. Tannenbaum it also includes logistical support [21; 37].

Some additional tools can be added due to development of means of communications as well as the division of traditional tools into several elements to distinguish the difference. These tools are packaging, word of mouth, point of sales, E-marketing and exhibitions, sponsorship.

The Figure 2 shows the most important marketing communications tools.

The use of these tools allows defining some integrated system of marketing communications of company.

The basic tools (the basic means of goods and services promotion) of the integrated marketing communications system in accordance witthe mentioned definitions are:

  • advertising - is any paid forof non-personal communication, presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor [22];
  • public relations is an indirecpromotional tool whose role is to establish and enhance a positive image of an organization and its products/services among its various audiences;
  • sales promotions is the use of short-term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of a product or service. Achumba I.C. adds that thdisplays, trade fairs and shows are the vital tools of sales promotional activity;
  • personal selling is personal presentation by the firm's sales force for the purpose of making sales and building customer relationships [23].

Supporting marketing communications (promotion of the company in the marketing environment) are:

  • sponsorship - the activities that the company finances in order to create dailor special contacts with the brand;
  • corporate identity expressed through all of company contact with public: including the design, exhibitions, point of sales, documents, packaging;
  • most of the marketing communications influence potential consumers througinformal opinion, word of mouth, by positive feedback sent by customers to their closest associates.

Some marketing communication tools cause an immediate reaction in a measurable market (e.g. personal sales). Other instruments are difficult to measure, but effect for a prolonged period of time (e.g. PR) [24].

A consistent dialogue with thtarget audience is also achieved though the Internet that includes web pages, social networks, mobile applications. Table 2 presents the features of traditional and online advertising.

As shown in the Table 2 there are differences between channels and means of promotion, which include traditional and those developing in the Internet. The use of advertising tools in the Internet provides company an immediate response from targeted and other audiences to ongoing communications and product promo-

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Вестник Карагандинского университета

tion. It gives opportunity to communicate the way it meet the expectations and preferences of consumers within the framework of integrated marketing communications strategy. That strategy is focused on establishing interaction with potential consumers and assumes the parallel use of various communication channels, which also include online communication. According to K.L. Keller there are many ways to combine different traditional and new communication options available today [25].

Table 2 Comparative characteristics of the traditional and Internet advertisings

Traditional advertising

Internet advertising

Non-personal information

Personalized content; dialogue between company and target audience

On-way communication

Immediate response

Uncertainty in terms of the effect measuring

Measurable effect

Noticeable and aimed to persuade

High level of trust

Advertiser is known

Advertiser is known

Addressed to the public at large

Messages for target audiences

Note. Complied by the authors.

Hence, electronic or online word of mouth (eWOM) has become an important factor in consumer buying decisions along with traditional recommendations. eWOM is an interpersonal communication in which a sender spreads a message to receivers by the Internet. Consumers trust eWOM more than advertisements, as they regard their peers as more reliable than companies. As such, companies receiving favorable eWOM have a better chance to increase sales. Although eWOM is implemented by consumers, companies can initiate eWOM campaigns for marketing communications. It has become increasingly important for companies to utilize electronic word of mouth (eWOM) in their marketing campaigns for desired product sales [26].

In our view, there following trends in the development of integrated marketing communications:

  • extension of relationship marketing strategies within the IMC;
  • coordination of tools of marketing communications with technologies, especially through Internet;
  • shift in the concept of a communication aimed at several different audiences with the consistent positioning of the product /service /brand;
  • evaluation of the efficiency of a IMC complex;
  • most of marketing communications influences potential consumers through informal opinion, when consumers give positive feedback to their associates.

Communications should be considered as forming part of a marketing mix. Communications have certain information impact through which the company maintains communication with consumers. The impact is a complex one and involves two levels: communications of goods/services promotion and communications of company's image formation (Table 3).

Table 3 Types of marketing communications

No.

Types of marketing communications

Means of formation of integrated marketing communications

Result

1

Communications of goods/services promotion

Advertising, sales promotion, direct-marketing, word of mouth

Formed for distribution of the information in order to increase sales and attract new clients

2

Communications of company's image formation

PR, sponsorship, corporate identity, online promotion.

Formed for creating a positive image of the company in the opinion of clients of competitors and employees.

The use of communication influence at all levels allows company to cover the most of existing and potential customers, advertise the services provided, maintain a positive image among employees, competitors, suppliers, thus creating a system of integrated marketing communications.

The analysis of researches in the field of integrated marketing communications determined their main components, objectives, and identified various opportunities in the application of marketing communications. There are some main tools of the IMC system in accordance with existing approaches. However, we can add according to the studies such components as increased involvement of employees in conveying messages to consumers and using the opportunities of the Internet. Current market conditions and the level of information technologies development determine the further development of the IMC theory.

The use of IMC helps company to gain a competitive advantage, increase profits, and positively influence consumers, due to the strengthened communications with them and at the same time effectively, in the use of funds and information resources, as the result of the application of marketing communications tools increases. IMCs require complex approach; however, it brings significant benefits by influencing customers and increasing the company effectiveness on different levels.

 

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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Economy