Integrated Marketing Communications Is the Whole Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts Term Paper

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Integrated Marketing Communications: Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?

The concept of Integrated Marketing Communications is a relatively new one, which arose from the need to constantly adapt to the changes affecting both the micro and macro environments. In addition, the emergence of the IMC is a direct consequence of the increased attention placed on marketing activities and strategies, as well as the recognition of the vital role played by the communication system in achieving organizational goals.

Only until recently, the basic change was that of an increased focus on customers' needs and the immense desire to satisfy them. Companies became more customer-oriented and began to develop and implement numerous strategies, aimed at increasing customers' satisfaction in regard to the company's products and services.

Today however, the variety of strategies seems overwhelmed by the rapid mutations affecting both the business community as well the consumers. In marketing "the paradigm change is coming from an offspring called Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). and, nowhere is that more evident than in the non-English-speaking countries where the primary focus on mass advertising and mass communication is giving way to more integrated forms of communication, including such areas as sales, promotion, direct marketing, public relations, events, and the like" (Kim, Han and Schultz, p.1).

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In order to best respond to these changes, organizations are beginning to think of new ways of developing their strategies. The Integrated Marketing Communication comes to their benefit as it provides insight on how to best integrate and unify all marketing strategies into an organizational activity to retrieve the most favourable results. And the beneficial outcome of Integrated Marketing Communications offers a positive answer to the question Is the whole grater than the sum of its parts?

2. Integrated Marketing Communication

Term Paper on Integrated Marketing Communications Is the Whole Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts Assignment

The specialized literature of our days has presented the reader with a multitude of definitions of IMC. As such, the American Marketing Association defines the Integrated Marketing Communication as being "a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time" (American Marketing Association, 2008).

Laura Lake, a marketing specialist at Marketing About has defined the IMC as: "a management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation" (Lake, 2008).

Another relevant definition of IMC comes from the Centre for Integrated Marketing, which states that "Integrated Marketing is a creative, human and business discipline that reduces or eliminates these divisions to ensure the brand is appropriately present and effectively communicating at all the important times in a customer's life in a way that provides value, creates sustainable profits and benefits shareholders and employees" (Centre for Integrated Marketing, 2006).

The list of IMC definitions could go on for numerous pages, but the conclusion would be the same: Integrated Marketing Communication represents the process of unifying all marketing activities of an organization, such as sales, promotions or advertising, in order to develop the best marketing campaign that would retrieve the best results. But in order to develop a successful marketing campaign with the aid of the IMC, companies must consider a wide variety of factors of influences, such as the company clients (both current and potential), public relations, brand, media, advertising or promotions.

Factors that influence a marketing campaign

Source: Vargas, 2005

IMC is a common-sense idea. Instead of dividing communications into several overlapping departments, organizations use one strategy for everything, making every communication consistent with one message and one strategy. For example, once a company decides how it is uniquely able to meet a particular consumer need, every message is based on those conclusions" (Paquet).

2.1 Benefits of IMC

The major beneficial features of implementing integrated marketing communications within an organization revolve around the following capabilities offered by a good IMC system:

The IMC aids companies to effectively manage the corporate image by highlighting the core competencies and how to connect these capabilities with the other corporative features

The IMC supports a strong marketing campaign, centred around organizational values and strengths and which will not only make a statement, but will also positively influence sales and increase the company's return on investment

The IMC improves the quality of the promotional and advertising strategies presented through media channels

The IMC has better chances of success than traditional implementation of marketing strategies as it encompasses more modern strategies, generally the online marketing (Wisconsin School of Business, 2006) properly implemented Integrated Marketing Communications system sustains the company in cutting down their costs

The IMC offers the company a core competency and a sustainable advantage in comparison to the large numbers of companies which have yet to implement the IMC

The Integrated Marketing Communications set the basis for coordinated company and brand developed well implemented marketing campaign, developed with regard to the IMC considerations is prone to attract increased attention from customers, for after all, the IMC is based on customer orientation (Slide Share, 2007).

Other benefits of the usage of the Integrated Marketing Communications system arise form the differences revealed by basic comparison of the traditional and the integrated marketing approaches. These differences are presented in the table below:

Table 1: Differences between the Traditional and Integrated Approach to Marketing

Traditional Approach

Focus on:

Integrated Approach

Focus on:

1. Making transactions

1. Building and nourishing relationships

2. Customers

2. All stakeholders in the organization

3. Independent brand message

3. Strategic consistency on brand messages

4. Mass-media - monologue with the customers

4. Interactivity - dialogue with the customers

5. Products claims

5. Corporate mission marketing

6. Adjusting prior year's plan

6. Zero-based campaign planning

7. Functional department planning and monitoring

7. Cross-functional planning and monitoring

8. Communication specialists

8. Creating core competencies

9. Mass marketing and customer acquisition

9. Building and managing databases to retain customers

10. Stable of agencies

10. One communication management agency

Source: Peter and Donnelly, p.121

Today, when most companies have yet to adopt the IMC, its usage represents a core competency and a sustainable advantage. However in the future, this advantage could turn against the company in the form of a shortage. To better explain, in the following years, when all companies will have adopted the IMC, it will no longer represent a benefit as it will imply that all companies implement similar marketing strategies and fail to stand out. If this situation was to occur, the probability is that corporations will begin to "disintegrate" their marketing procedures as to make them more unique and more adaptable to the particular needs of the clients and the particular features of the products.

2.2 Barriers to IMC

The benefits of implementing an integrated marketing communications system are made obvious by the increased chances of developing a strong marketing campaign to support the organization in achieving its goals. However, to ensure this, the corporations have to increase their efforts and get passes several barriers imposed by IMC. Some of these barriers have been presented by Hun, Kim and Schultz (2004) in Understanding the Diffusion of Integrated Marketing Communications:

Integration requires the staff to be better trained, therefore the company executives must organize training programs which require additional expenditures

The corporate culture doesn't entirely reflect the company's ability to implement IMC; for instance, numerous companies have numerous marketing goals and intent to reach them through a variety of marketing strategies

The Integrated Marketing Communications offer too much control to advertising companies

The decision making process would have to be modified and the focus would swift

The Integrated Marketing Communication systems weaken the competition between agencies (Kim, Han and Schultz, p.8).

Other shortages of the IMC refer to the risks posed by IMC, basically that of turning the company into a highly standardized facility, which is unable to adapt to the changes of the environment. In this order of ideas, it is highly possible that the Integrated Marketing Communications:

Encourage centralization and total standardization

Require increased management, monitoring and control

Promote uniformity and single message, which may not always adapt to all products or customers of the company

Reduce the creative and innovative opportunities within the company, which may lead to personnel dissatisfactions

Result in an inflexible company, unable to adapt to changes in the environment

Require that the company changes its culture

IMC stands the chance of harming the company's brand if the message delivered is incorrectly managed

May lead to mediocrity and the loss of any specials skills and core competencies possessed by the company and its employees (Slide Share, 2007)

2.3 Four P's and C's of Marketing particular feature of the Integrated Marketing Communication is that more than any other marketing procedures, it emphasize on the customer. However traditional marketing is also customer-oriented, the traditional strategies regard customer features from the stand point of the company. As such, they define the four P's of marketing as Product, or what the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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