Essentials of an Integrated Marketing Communication Process

The American Marketing Association (AMA) which represents marketing professionals defines marketing as “The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational objectives.”

Effective marketing requires that managers recognize the interdependence of such activities as sales and promotion and how they can be combined to develop a marketing program. In marketing, exchange is a central concept. For exchange to occur there must be two or more parties with something of value to one another, a desire and ability to give up that something to other party, and a way to communicate with each other.

Marketing facilitates the exchange process and the development of relationships by carefully examining the needs and wants of customers, developing a product or service that satisfies these needs, offering it at a certain price, making it available through a particular place or channel of distribution, and developing a program of promotion or communication to create awareness and interest. The focus of market driven companies is on developing and sustaining relationships with their customers. This has led to a new emphasis on relationship marketing which involves creating, maintaining and enhancing longterm relationships with individual customers as well as other stakeholders for mutual benefit.

The marketer’s task is to devise marketing activities and fully integrated marketing activities and assemble fully integrated marketing programs to create, communicate and deliver value for customers.

Advertising and promotion play an important role in the exchange process by informing consumers of an organisation’s product or service and convincing them of its ability to satisfy their needs or wants. The American Association of Advertising Agencies developed definition of Integrated Marketing Communication as “A concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic role of a variety of communication disciplines – advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications impact.” Integrated Marketing Communication involves coordinating the various promotional elements. Six major promotional tools are advertisement, sales promotion, personal selling, direct marketing, publicity/public relations, internet marketing.

The Integrated Marketing Communication approach helps companies identify the most appropriate and effective methods for communicating and building relationships with their customers as well as other stakeholders such as employees, suppliers, investors, interest groups and the general public. Companies send messages to customers and other stakeholders through all aspects of their marketing mixes, not just promotion. Consumers make inferences about a product on the basis of elements such as its design, appearance, performance, pricing, service support, and where and how it is distributed. For example a high price may symbolize quality to customers, as may be the shape or design of a product, its packaging, its brand name, or the image of the stores in which it is sold.

The Integrated Marketing Communication approach to marketing communications planning and strategy is being adopted by both large and small companies and has become popular among firms marketing consumer products and services as well as business- to-business marketers. By coordinating their marketing communications efforts, companies can avoid duplication, take advantage of synergy among promotional tools, and develop more efficient and effective marketing communication programs.

To move to Integrated Marketing Communication also reflects an adaptation by marketers to a changing environment, particularly with respect to consumers, technology and media. Major changes have occurred among consumers with respect to demographics, lifestyles, media use and buying and shopping patterns. Media strategy involves determining which communication channels will be used to deliver the advertising message to the target audience. Two most important aspects of the advertising program are development of the message and media strategy. Message development, referred as creative strategy involves determining the basic appeal and message the advertiser wishes to convey to the target audience. Once the message and media strategies have been determined, steps must be taken to implement them. Most large companies hire advertising agencies to plan and produce their messages and to evaluate and purchase the media that will carry their ads. Marketing Communication can tell or show consumers how and why a product is used, by what kind of person, and where and when. They can learn about who makes the product and what the company and brand stand for; and they can get an incentive or reward for trial or usage. Marketing communications allow companies to link their brands to other people, places, events, brands, experiences, feelings and things.

Understanding Full Service Internet Marketing Services

Deciding to promote your business online is one that is taken lightly. Thousands of companies compete online on a daily basis. This opportunity has opened up doors for all sized companies in all industries, giving you the freedom to trade on a global scale.

While having a website designed, adding some products and information is great, it isn’t quite enough to ensure that your customer base sees your company among the hundreds of other companies around the world offering the same products or services. You need to focus heavily on your internet marketing to ensure that your online presence is enough to help your business grow moving forward, help you achieve online success and become a dominating competitor.

This means that you should consider a full service internet marketing service. Unless you have hours of time on your hands each day to focus on your online marketing efforts, hiring a professional company can give you the time and freedom you need to focus on the day to day running of your business while the service provider will focus on growing your business in an online environment.

The first thing you will find a full service internet marketing services provider will do is focus on your website. They need to ensure that it is optimized for your particular target audience. They should provide a complete website analysis, providing you with reports on what needs changing, what is working and possibly even, what pages to include to help you grow moving forward.

They will focus on SEO, search engine optimization, this will include local SEO where they will ensure that your address appears on each and every one of your web pages. Local SEO has become a valuable marketing tool and you need to follow the SEO guidelines to ensure that Google notices your company to help push you to the top of search engine results.

From here the full service internet marketing services provider will focus on all your on page optimization. This is your actual web pages. They will conduct a thorough analysis to ensure that you are using the right keywords to reach your target audience. They will also ensure the web pages you provide are valuable and give your customers the information they need.

The next step is focusing on your off page optimization, this includes your press releases, articles, blogs and more. The company should assist you with these marketing initiatives, helping you increase online brand visibility and direct your customers back to your website, where hopefully you will start seeing an increase in revenue moving forward.

Any reputable full service internet marketing services provider will ensure that they do a through keyword analysis for your particular company. Keywords are used in all online marketing and are focused on words used by your potential customers. The service provider will identify works that are most commonly used in search engines and then use these words to help promote your business in the future.

It is important to note that internet marketing is not an overnight success. You can’t hire a full service internet marketing company to handle your online reputation and expect to wake up tomorrow morning and be the first name you see when you search for a product or service that you supply. This process takes time and requires constant work and monitoring, but over time you will start to see an improvement as you make your way up the ranks to enjoy success in the long run.

In addition to the services listed above, your full service internet marketing provider should also provide you with a complete competitor analysis, they should assist you with your social media efforts and they should protect your online reputation at all times.

Web Marketing As Psychological Programming

People love to learn secrets

I think that everyone has come across one of those web pages written up in the style of long sales copy. The page scrolls down for a long way and every few paragraphs it tantalizes you by saying that you will be told the secret to success, but first it needs to tease you some more and so the long sales copy continues without ever revealing the promised secret.

All the way to the bottom of the page and after much scrolling you get to the final big button to sign up. This big button is no different from the smaller ones closer to the top of the sales copy, but it acts like the grand finale now that you are properly programmed and ready to buy.

Programmed to act accordingly

In the long sales copy the only thing being offered is information that is for sale and the reason for the long sales copy is so that it can write a little program in your head. To do the programming the sales copy need to repeat itself at least 3 times on every major point being made. If you are aware of this then you can see what is happening as you read the long sales copy.

Short sales copy doesn’t work the same way because the short version relies on a certain amount of programming already being in place. We all have a certain amount of programing in place because we live in a marketing environment where we are bombarded with advertising.

Programming comes in threes

In the same way that if we use a new word 3 times it helps us to retain the use of the new word. Programming works in the same way. Television ads repeat the message and the musical jingle to penetrate both our consciousness and our sub-consciousness. The objective is to lodge the product name deep in our thought processes. We may get up when a commercial comes on and go make a cup of tea, but we are still being programmed if we are in earshot of the TV.

We program our young children not to run out onto the road. We repeat the message over and over with emotional emphasis. It’s for their own safety. We hope the programming takes a firm hold and will stop them at the edge of the sidewalk. Then it has done its job.

When a young adult joins the military they will undergo a period of deprogramming to strip away their old habits of thinking and then receive new instructions. Learning something new is not so difficult as getting rid of the old thought patterns. This is what marketing professionals are up against and they use whatever tools that are on hand.

Psychological programming or re-programming

If we want to change our old habits then new programming needs to be repeated often over a period of time. In sales and marketing it is the advertising that attempts to program us, and it is the long sales copy that has the best chance of doing this if people will read the whole page.

The programming is only partially in the repeated message. Some messages are crafted with skill and are more successful. There is a whole rack of positive and negative buttons to push for creating a sale. So we can say that programming is not just repetition but also emotional stimulation.

It is the thought that counts the most but it is the emotional emphasis that captures our attention. Just bringing up logical reasons for switching brands doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Nor does instilling a little fear sway us to buy a new brand. It is when emotional buttons are pushed and strong logic is presented together that we see a persuasive advertisement.

What happens when you are aware of the programming?

Seldom do we see the programming coming at us because of our own preoccupation with life. This is the same preoccupation that advertising is designed to break through and grab our attention. And when the ad does get our attention we are not looking at the ad itself because we are focused on the message.

However, when we look at what the ad is doing this is when our thinking shifts dramatically. Now that we are aware of the advertising itself we start to see the repeated points and the emotional emphasis. In this way we are able to see the value, if any, being offered and be conscious of the manipulation taking place.

The rule is “Buyer beware”, but a better rule is “Buyer be aware.”

Is programming the only way to market a product?

We are not children about to run out into the street and in the market place we may feel insulted to be treated with the invalidation that advertising carries. Anytime an advertisement does our thinking for us it is nothing short of invalidation. The ad is telling us that we cannot make a good decision on our own.

We can feel the invalidation even if we don’t understand it and we can safely assume that our own market is as sensitive as we are.

In a competitive market place we may be inclined to push with programming and get the job done, and there is always an argument in favor of doing just this. However, the web provides a different option and instead of pushing our market to make a purchase there is the more powerful method of pulling. Call it attraction or magnetic marketing but it works over greater distances and for longer durations of time.

Marketing by attraction was not usually a preferred choice in the brick & mortar world because there was no practical means of marketing a small or medium business over great distance. The cost was too high and the logistics of business growth was a big risk to take.

The web has turned this around

Our web page can scroll down for miles, although this is not a recommended strategy for providing the best and most complete information for our market. There are better ways for navigation to provide the desired information. But what it means is that our web site can attract a market by offering a complete service to our market beginning with information and education.

When is the last time you’ve been in a big box store and had to look for service? What about not finding the information you need on a web site? It’s the same poor service, except there is no excuse for a web site to not be a full service 24/7 outlet. You can put everything you’ve got at the moment into the site just once and never have to repeat the effort. You just add more info as it comes along.

Eliminate the cost of time & space

Space on our web site is not costly. Distance is not a problem. Time has no meaning. The real challenge for us is to be in the top 10 for our preferred search terms. And it turns out that this is not much of a problem either if we provide the quantity and quality of content that our market wants from us because it is the same thing the search engines look for.

With quality information and education we do not need to program our market. We have plenty of time and space to attract our market without pushing them into a purchase. Such a web site has depth and will attract those portions of a market early in the buying cycle. They want and need our assistance as we build a mutual relationship.

The web and its ability to pull, or attract, a market was never possible in the brick and mortar world where every word had a cost and every mile ate up resources. When we look at web marketing as information then we have to wonder why there are so many small business web sites pushing with the high cost of advertising and consumption of resources when pulling reaches further t a lower cost.

Have we been programmed to market our web site a certain way?