Integrated Marketing Communication IMC Strategies Thesis

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Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Strategies at FedEx Cor

Today, FedEx Corp. (hereinafter alternatively "FedEx" or "the company") it the world's largest express transportation company and offers its customers and businesses a wide range of transportation, e-commerce and business services. The company generates about $38 billion in revenues each year and provides integrated business applications globally under the highly respected FedEx brand. The company has been rated time and again as one of the world's most admired and trusted employers and FedEx remains committed to delivering quality services and products to its customers and the communities in which it competes (FedEx, 2009). Although it is best known for its package delivery services, following its acquisition of Kinko's, FedEx has expanded its product offerings to include FedEx Office, a global network with more than 1,800 digitally-connected locations competing in 11 countries including the burgeoning economic powerhouses of China and South Korea. To determine how the company has facilitated this expansion, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature to determine how FedEx has achieved its success in these two countries using its integrated marketing communication strategies in recent years.

Research Objectives. The objectives and goals of this research were to provide a comprehensive definition of IMC and how it has been used by the U.S.-based company FedEx in growing its FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko's) business units in China and South Korea.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Thesis on Integrated Marketing Communication IMC Strategies Assignment

IMC Strategies. Although there is no universally accepted definition of IMC, there are several definitions available that provide some useful insights into what is typically involved. According to Maul (2009), "Integrated marketing communications can mean different things for different companies, but the majority of people define it as a way to incorporate consistent messaging and branding across all communications channels" (p. 4). The "official" definition of integrated marketing communications (IMC) provided by McGoon (1998) notes that it is "a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate coordinated and measurable persuasive brand communication programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects and other targeted, relevant external and internal audiences" (p. 37). In reality, the concept of IMC is fairly straightforward; however, executing an effective IMC initiative is typically complex. In this regard, Maul emphasizes that, "Called everything from a holistic approach to 360-degree marketing, an integrated campaign requires a company to pull together its internal communications teams and its various agencies to develop messaging, strategy, and tactics that work throughout the company" (p. 4). Companies of all types and sizes can realize significant strategic benefits when these elements are combined in meaningful ways with a view to developing a single communication message for customers. In this regard, Varey (2001) notes that, "The advent of the integrated marketing communication approach recognizes a convergence of marketing and public relations into a more strategic management framework" (p. 128). According to Kitchen and De Pelsmacker (2004), "Many organisations proclaim IMC to be a key competitive advantage of marketing. Integration of communications - as with anything else, attempts to combine, integrate, and synergize different elements of the promotional mix, so to consumers, messages through a variety of different mechanisms look, sound, and feel alike" (p. 19). As one of the first movers in the IMC arena, FedEx provides a good example of what can be accomplished when a company integrates its marketing communications in thoughtful and meaningful ways. The following IMC strategies were used to help the company expand its FedEx Office product line in South Korea and China.

The four stages of IMC development used by FedEx are described in Table 1 below:

Table 1

Four stages of IMC development at the FedEx corporate level

Stage

Description

Application by FedEx

Tactical coordination of marketing communication

The focus of this stage of IMC development is on functional areas including advertising, promotion, direct response, public relations and special events. Emphasis is on developing "one-sight, one-sound" policies and programs.

The marketing department activities at FedEx are focused on customer segments. Each segment is staffed by a cross-functional team composed of a manager, a marketer, an analyst, an agency account executive, and -- if applicable -- a representative from the agency-managed fulfillment house. These cross-functional teams meet as frequently as necessary. E-mail has greatly facilitated this integration. All marketing vendors are connected to FedEx and to each other through the FedEx corporate e-mail system.

Redefining the scope of marketing communication

In this stage, organizations begin to examine communication from the customer's viewpoint, looking at all contact and entry points of customers with the company. The critical question changes from "How do we reach the customer?" To "How does the customer reach us?" Outside in instead of inside out. Also, the scope of communication activities broadens to include internal marketing to employees, suppliers and other business partners.

FedEx has a flattop management structure with only five layers, and information flows very quickly. For example, Monday morning the senior VP of marketing meets with his direct reports; Monday afternoon, VPs of marketing meet with their direct reports, the directors who in turn meet with their direct reports. By Tuesday morning, the information from the Monday morning meeting has been completely disseminated; these meetings take place weekly without fail.

Application of Information Technology

Here the organization uses data gained through it to provide a basis to identify value and monitor the impact of integrated internal and external communication programs to key customer segments over time.

Marketing at FedEx has two it work teams supporting its efforts. The teams are physically located within the marketing building and report to both the it and marketing organizations.

Financial and strategic integration

At this top level of integration, emphasis shifts from skills and data to driving corporate strategic planning using customer information and insight. Financial measures of marketing are adopted based on return-on-customer investment measures.

At FedEx, the important strategic financial measure is incremental improvements in aggregate return on marketing investment over time. If what can be seen is a consistent trend of being able to do more with less, then marketing is on track. FedEx measures results from marketing expenditures primarily by revenue and volume by performing complex analyses for every promotion, then comparing results with business plan.

Source: McGoon, 1998, p. 37

Similarity and Difference in IMC Strategies.

Although it would be foolhardy and dangerous from a marketing perspective to assume that consumers in South Korea and China were entirely homogeneous simply because they are situated in Asia, there are some distinct similarities as well as differences between consumers in these two countries. As can be seen in Figure 1 below, consumers in South Korea evince a much higher individuality rating (IDV) than their counterparts in China, and the long-term orientation (LTO) of consumers in China is significantly greater than those in South Korea.

Source: Hofstede, 2009.

These cross-cultural differences are clearly important for marketers of various consumer products but the product line being offered by FedEx Office satisfies the same fundamental need for quality and efficiency for consumers in both countries; although a "one-size-fits-all" IMC approach is not available for both South Korea and China, it is reasonable to suggest that the comparable IMC strategies would achieve the company's goals. For instance, according to Varey (2001), "Integrated marketing communication [provides] a single voice and consistency in the expression of corporate values, product performance, and brand identity and position which is designed into communication processes that are appropriate for each category of product-market combination" (p. 241).

The First IMC Element. Following the launch of ten new outlets over the past 2 years and its 25th service center in South Korea in early 2009, FedEx Office promoted its growing presence by providing a sponsoring its second "FedEx English Camp" to help its South Korean customers improve their fluency in the English language; in addition, the company sponsors a well publicized Junior Achievement trading challenge competition wherein competitors seek to develop the best performing stock portfolio in a "what-if" scenario (FedEx Korea, 2009). Recognizing the potential of an online presence in South Korea, FedEx Office has provided a wide range of services for its customers that specifically target students who will likely be among the top users of its products and services. The company's Web site features both Korean and English languages with a series of "how-to" articles and student-related publications, and FedEx Office also offers students in South Korea a significant discount on all of their services simply by showing a student identification card (FedEx Korea, 2009). Finally, the company has even ensured that its presence is known by developing a Twitter page that provides up-to-the-minute news releases and special promotions for its South Korean personal and commercial customers (FedEx Korea, 2009).

The Second IMC Element. With a 12-year history of FedEx Office locations in China, the company's network now covers most primary business areas in Beijing as well as throughout the rest of the country providing its customers with one-stop outlet for document solutions and business services (Ding, 2007). Among the company's most recent IMC initiatives are its sponsorship of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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