integrated marketing communications
The coordination of communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent message.
In common with other communications media, the Internet will be most effective when it is deployed as part of an integrated marketing communications approach. Kotler et al. (2001) describe integrated marketing communications as:
the concept under which a company carefully integrates and co-ordinates its many communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent message about the organisation and its products.
The characteristics of integrated marketing communications have been summarised by Pickton and Broderick (2001) as the 4 Cs of:
• Coherence - different communications are logically connected.
• Consistency - multiple messages support and reinforce, and are not contradictory.
• Continuity - communications are connected and consistent through time.
• Complementary - synergistic, or the sum of the parts is greater than the whole!
The 4 Cs also act as guidelines for how communications should be integrated.
Further guidelines on integrated marketing communications from Pickton and Broderick (2001) that can be usefully applied to Internet marketing are the following.
1 Communications planning is based on clearly identified marketing communications objectives (see later section).
2 Internet marketing involves the full range of target audiences (see the section on developing customer-oriented content in Chapter 7). The full range of target audiences is the customer segments plus employees, shareholders and suppliers.
3 Internet marketing should involve management of all forms of contact, which includes management of both outbound communications such as banner advertising or direct e-mail and inbound communications such as e-mail enquiries.
Media-neutral planning (MNP)
An approach to planning ad campaigns to maximise response across different media according to consumer usage of these media.
4 Internet marketing should utilise a range of promotional tools. These are the promotional tools illustrated in Figure 8.1.
5 A range of media should be used to deliver the message about the web site. Marketing managers need to consider the most effective mix of media to drive traffic to their web site. The different techniques can be characterised as traditional offline marketing communications or new online communications. The objective of employing these techniques is to acquire new traffic on an e-commerce site using the techniques summarised in Figure 8.1. Many of these techniques can also be used to drive customers to a site for retention.
6 The communications plan should involve careful selection of most effective promotional and media mix. This is discussed at the end of the chapter.
Additionally, we can say that integrated marketing communications should be used to support customers through the entire buying process, across different media.
Planning integrated marketing communications
The Account Planning Group (www.apq.ora.uk). in its definition of media planning highlights the importance of the role of media planning when they say that the planner:
needs to understand the customer and the brand to unearth a key insight for the communication/solution [Relevance].
As media channels have mushroomed and communication channels have multiplied, it has become increasingly important for communication to cut through the cynicism and connect with its audience [Distinctiveness].
...the planner can provide the edge needed to ensure the solution reaches out through the clutter to its intended audience [Targeted reach].
...needs to demonstrate how and why the communication has performed [Effectiveness].
More specifically, Pickton and Broderick (2001) state that the aim of marketing communications media planning as part of integrated marketing communications should be to:
• Reach the target audience
• Determine the appropriate Frequency for messaging
• Achieve Impact through the creative for each media.
Media-neutral planning (MNP)
The concept of media-neutral planning (MNP) has been used to describe an approach to planning integrated marketing campaigns including online elements. Since it is a relatively new concept, it is difficult to describe absolutely. To read a review of the different interpretations see Tapp (2005) who notes that there are three different aspects of planning often encompassed with media-neutral planning:
• Channel planning, i.e. which route to market shall we take: retail, direct, sales partners, etc. (we would say this emphasis is rare);
• Communications-mix planning, i.e. how do we split our budget between advertising, direct marketing, sales promotions and PR;
• Media planning, i.e. spending money on TV, press, direct mail, and so on.
In our view, MNP is most usually applied to the second and third elements and the approach is based on reaching consumers across a range of media to maximise response. For example, Crawshaw (2004) says:
The simple reason we would want media-neutral communications is so that we can connect the right message with our target audience, at the right time and place to persuade them to do what we want. This will lead to powerful, effective, value for money communications that solve clients' business challenges.
A customer-centric media-planning approach is key to this process, Anthony Clifton, Planning Director at WWAV Rapp Collins Media Group is quoted by the Account Planning Group as saying (quoted in Crawshaw, 2004):
real consumer insight has to be positioned at the core of the integrated planning process and the planner must glean a complete understanding of the client's stake holders, who they are, their mindset, media consumption patterns and relationship with the business -are they 'life-time' consumers or have they purchased once, are they high value or low value customers etc. This requires lifting the bonnet of the database, segmentation and market evaluation.
Online marketers also need to remind themselves that many customers prefer to communicate via traditional media, so we should support them in this. The need for marketers to still support a range of communications channels is suggested in Mini Case Study 8.2 'Disasters Emergency Committee uses a range of media to gain donations'.
Mini Case Study 8.2
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