How to develop an integrated marketing communications strategy

Implementing an integrated marketing communications strategy can provide a competitive advantage for your business. However, many companies still employ a linear direct marketing process in which products are developed, messages created and incentives are added to the mix. The products are then pushed through various media or a salesforce to consumers. This methodology relies on behaviour assumptions that all consumers follow the same decision process: Awareness – Knowledge – Evaluation – Purchase.

This strategy worked well a few years ago because targeting and smart advertising gave companies the edge over consumers with limited product knowledge. However, buying behaviour has become more sophisticated since consumers acquired access to technology such as the Internet, mobile phones, iPods, search engines and on-demand TV. This technology has made the traditional linear marketing and communications process (product/brand – channel – media – customer) redundant. Because consumers can now block out marketing messages using spam filters, pop-up blockers, remote controls, “do not mail” lists or the regular trash can.

  • Why do consumers need to learn about your product/service now when they can just Google it?
  • What are you going to tell consumers that they don’t already know or cannot find out for themselves via an online product comparison site?

A consumer-controlled communication landscape has emerged with a faster dynamic consumer learning process. The outcome is declining efficiency rates and increased costs from traditional direct marketing activity. Thus companies now need an integrated marketing communications approach that combines traditional media, online channels, PR, affiliate partnerships, products, people and social networks to be successful.

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How can your organization develop an integrated marketing communications model?

Don Schultz, Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University suggests companies can coordinate their marketing resources and supply customers value-added information to create engagement and build long-term relationships. Start by using what I call ABCD resources -Audience, Brand (Product/Service), Content, Delivery. You then need to find the optimal mix based on your industry and competitive position.

Abcd_resources_3

Audience – a key ingredient is to use extensive data and analytics to understand your target segment. Creating pen-portraits of your core customers including demographic and lifestyle information will help optimize your media targeting strategy.

Brand – your product or service must have a unique selling proposition to provide a competitive advantage. It must deliver superior value for the audience and be clearly differentiated on features, service or price.

Content – with most competitors using the same linear marketing strategies targeting the same consumer segments, content can now become a point of competitive differentiation. When you supply value-added content you provide consumers a reason to engage with your brand and connect your products or services.

Delivery – You then need to connect new digital media channels with traditional channels to create a push-pull system. Consumers must become engaged with the media employed or your content delivery will be unsuccessful. To achieve this ensure the content is linked to your brand positioning to make the emotional connection with your product or services.

Traditional measurements systems do not work well with integrated marketing, but most companies have all the data and just need to align it. Problematic areas can include breaking down internal silos and defining measures of success –site traffic, new sales, revenue per customer, return on capital, NPS (Net Promoter Score) etc.

The customer experience now occurs during the interaction with your products, online channels, customer service and content. If companies can optimize the synergy between the ABCD resources and employ an integrated marketing communications strategy they can drive improved returns from their marketing investment.

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Leadership

Discussion board Name Professor Institution Course Date Discussion board 1 Model 1: In your element one, explain what the authors set forth as the proper method for company leaders to approach externalities. The author provided a model for analysis and reacting to externalities in the business environment. The author’s model is broken down into three important phases. Ownership, Action, and Interest. For example, the author proposes that one has to take responsibility for any problems and or mistakes. After taking responsibility for any mistake, the author argues that the managers must be able to make efforts to solve the problems because by solving problems that company shows their responsiveness to the environments as such, they become part of the solution. Then the third step is to take interest in helping fixing the problems even when they did not cause the problem (Cappelli, et al, 2010). In this case, Wal-Mart is one of the most suitable example, of the companies that have implemented that recommendations made by the author. Before their merger with Bharti of India broke up, the company helped solved problems in the policies fighting for better terms for the foreign investors. The author provided a very innovative model that can be used to manage the impact of externalities. The company should start with the four centric circle proposed above, then the first ring should denote taking ownership, the second ring, mean taking action, and the third ring means taking interest. The most outstanding element is that the either proposed that manager should use Ripples of Responsibility concept to help the company overcome its externalities. The author proposes that there are four main rings in a business. Using a concentric ring, the author explained that four main types of externalities face the business Element 2: To clear out the externalities, the author proposed that the managers must be able to trace back their footprints or the impact of the companies’ actions on the environment. This means that the company must strategize on how to solve the problems, by setting SMART goals and taking action. The author tries to explain that for each ring there is a significant relationship with the company’s actions. For example, accountability, competence, and brand resonance Element 3: Element 3 focuses on the impact of the business environment on the society. For example, societal perception. There are a number of companies that have managed to solve externalities problems. For example, mc Donald has been trying hard to change the people’s perspective on the customer on the fast foods by ensuring that their ethical sourcing system is strict. They even disposed some of their suppliers for not slaughtering their chicken the right way Discussion board -2 Element 1 There are three specific focuses n that an effective organization must have. These include employee development, employee training, and employee empowerment. Other factors include engagement in CSR, and corporate strategy and mission Element 2 The founder of Apollo Hospital Prathap Reddy, a leading private health care provider said “Our first responsibility is to our patients; second, to people who work for us; and then to our lenders and investors” (Page 5, Paragraph 4). The goal of every organization is to make profits, if the organization is to make profit it must put customer first, and the employee second. The customer come from the community, therefore they come third. Organizational leadership and organizational culture go together. Therefore all organization must be aligned towards ensuring that they develop healthy culture that can foster strategic advantages. Element 3 There are many employees that have implemented the above strategies. For example, Reliance limited takes prides in training its employees on customer services and efficiency and this has contributed to their competitiveness. The company develops its employees to serve their customers well. They also take care of the environment by giving back to the society. Acers, and Accenture, are some of the two companies that are known to spend a lot of money on training their employees. For example, in 2012 alone, Accenture spent $600 million each year on training and development. This large capital outlay is done with the hope that the company would be able to realize a larger ROI from excellent customer service, efficiency, employee empowerment, and good decision-making. Employee training is also akin to organizational behaviors just the way it is connected to the overall. Employee training and empowerment also contributes to their overall innovativeness and creativity and all these have positive externalities that contribute to the organizations success. The company is also amongst the 100 best companies to work for because of their competitiveness, and employee effectiveness. Perhaps it is healthy to argue that the companies amongst the top companies because it has a good leadership founded on good team chemistry and properly defined organizational culture References Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra V. Singh, &, Michael Useem, (2010). Leadership Lessons from India- How the best Indian companies drive performance by investing in people. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation