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Integrated Marketing Communication

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Integrated marketing communication makes absolute sense for all companies and businesses. All promotional activities have to be in sync so that a company achieves maximum impact and realizes more sales. Several techniques have to be used alongside different media outlets so that a large audience is reached. Sales promotions are crucial when a company is launching a new product. This paper proposes a new service in the market ‘M-Cash’. Through integrating the various marketing tools, the paper outlines how it will promote the product to a market that has never experienced the service before. The internet, and especially the social media, will play an important role during the promotion.

Integrated marketing approach (IMC) is a conceptual marketing communication that regards the increased value of a comprehensive and extensive plan that evaluates the important roles of communication disciplines such as advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations as well as personal selling. Integrated marketing approach combines and integrates these disciplines in such a way that is clear, consistent and ensures maximal communication impact. Blending and combining integrated marketing communication disciplines increases the chance of a marketer’s message being taken up by many of the customers. Marketers who use IMC have all to gain since a similar message is passed across via many communication techniques and media outlets. It also increases the effectiveness of message transmission (Celebi, 2009).

The advantages of integrated marketing communication are many; the communication disciplines are brought under one roof, the management can gauge which marketing tools are more effective in delivering messages across various audiences. IMC enables a company to pass across a similar message but via different marketing tools to its target customers, shareholders, stakeholders and employees. IMC ensures that the public get the same message through different media. This paper will analyze the integrated marketing disciplines, the IMC approach to use and the message to be passed across.

Advertising

Advertising is a paid form of presentation (that is not personal) and promotion of goods and services or ideas through an identified sponsor (Pearson). Advertising is crucial in the initial stages when a business wants to gauge the response from the customers. It has various advantages; because it is a public presentation and mostly persuasive and extensively expressed, it enables the goods and services get high levels of awareness and recognition, the company also gains awareness hence improving its brand. Advertising also ensures that a company preserves a long term image. Of all the marketing disciplines except public relations, advertising tends to be cheapest (Katrandjiev).

Due to its tendency to be quite cheaper, a company can run many advertising campaigns. This can lead to feeling of annoyance and anger amongst the audience. Such feelings can bring down its effectiveness.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotions are short term incentives aimed at encouraging customers to purchase a certain good or service. Sales promotions are campaigns that offer distinctive purchase invitations to potential customers. Many of these campaigns offer the customers with purchase incentives such as discounts as well as free samples. Sales promotions are come in handy when a company is launching new products into the market.

Sales promotion campaigns are mostly short in nature and season based. Therefore, they do not build a long term brand preference amongst many customers (Katrandjiev).

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing are one on one communications with targeted individuals so that a direct response is obtained (Pearson). This form of marketing uses channels such as mail, telephone, email and fax to get in touch with the customers directly or to trigger a direct response. To achieve this, a company must be having databases containing names, contacts and characteristics of the customers. Direct marketing provides a higher chance of message adaptation. The target customers and market is precise hence a company can gauge the effectiveness of the database programs.

Direct marketing is very expensive. Therefore, it is limited to mostly companies that have enough financial resources. Additionally, it can generate negative feelings amongst the customers if it is done very frequently (McGraw Hill, 2004).

Public Relations

Public relations involve building good relations between the company and target customers as well as enhance the image of the company amongst the audiences. Public relations ensure that the company gains favorable publicity, builds an effective corporate image as well as dispel unfavorable feelings and rumors that may be associated with it. These campaigns are highly credible as the customers will get the feeling that they are news, rather than paid up advertisements or publications. They tend to be cheaper than the other tools.

The main problem associated with public relation campaigns is that the company cannot control to a certain extent what is being said and where it is said.

Direct Selling

Direct selling involves the personal presentation to the customers of a company’s goods and services, usually conducted by the company’s sales staff. The sales staff makes direct sales and also builds relationships between the company and customers. Direct selling ensures that the company is making sales as well as enhancing its image. Additionally, the company gets direct response from the customers as well as expanding its brands.

Direct or personal selling is tiresome to the sales staff since it requires that they travel to interact directly with the customers. It is also not applicable to heavy or fragile products that cannot be carried easily. The sales staff is also at risk of being attacked by thieves and criminals which may lead to losses. Therefore, it is limited to only cheap products.

Launching a new product into the market is very challenging. There are many factors that need to be taken into account. However, all companies should take this challenge as an opportunity to enhance its brand, hence improve its profit margins. This is the position of this paper.

Service

Mobile phone money transfer ‘M-Cash’ is the first of such a kind. It allows subscribers to send and receive money on their mobile phones

Requirements

A user must have access to a mobile phone and a working SIM card from any mobile service provider in the United States. This will eventually be rolled out to enable international transfers. The company will open outlets in pilot states before rolling out nationally where customers will be registered.

How it Works

M-Cash phone application will be installed to subscribers’ mobile phones at the time of registration. They will be given a unique transaction pin code. They will then be allowed to deposit cash ‘in their phones’ at the company’s outlets. This is done when they deposit cash (more than $ 10) at the outlets and the cash is credited in their mobile accounts. This service will be offered free of service. To send cash, the subscriber (who has enough cash in his/her account) will go to the phone application and choose the option of sending cash. He/she will then enter the phone number of the person to receive the cash. They will then be required to enter the unique code before finally sending. A message (to the sender and receiver) and special transaction number will then be sent to both the parties. The amount will then be credited to the receiver’s mobile phone account.

After receiving the cash, the subscriber will then head to any of the company’s outlets to withdraw. He/she will be required to identify themselves as per the original registration. He/she will enter the outlet’s number, the amount to be withdrawn and his/her unique pin code. The sales staff will then present them with the cash. The company will make revenues by charging sending and withdrawing fees, based on the amount involved. That is, large amounts will attract relatively higher fees. For security reasons, the least amount that can be deposited is $ 10 and the highest is $ 5000.

IMC Approach

Since this a new service into the market that involves inter-network mobile money transfer, all the communication disciplines will be used. First and foremost, advertisements will be run on state televisions as well as popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter that have a very huge following. Billboards advertising the service will also be used. More specifically, advertisement spots will be run during prime time news and during the airing of major sports events such as Baseball, Football and Basketballs. This will ensure that many viewers are aware of the service because of the large viewership of these games.

Since it is mobile phone inter-network transfer, the company already has access to a large database of mobile phone numbers obtained from the mobile service providers. This makes direct marketing easier as the company will send SMS’s to the subscribers. Additionally, since the operations of the company will be conducted in the outlets, direct selling is facilitated. The sales staff will go directly to potential customers to register them at their own convenience. The modalities of the service will be explained to them.

To make a lasting impression and for the success of the service, the customer must view the company as very credible and safe to keep their money. They should also be free to withdraw their monies at their own time. This simply means that the company has embarked on various public relations activities. For instance, the company has been collaborating with children’s homes and such like organizations in helping the homeless find suitable homes. The company has set up a fund to help build houses for our veterans who now don’t have homes. The company’s foundation is up and running already and has been involved in major charity events. The company employees have been visiting hospitals and hospices. All these activities are to be received well amongst the customers.

Introduction of a new service requires adequate sales promotion activities. However, due to the nature of applications, the company will not give short term incentives regarding the service. However, the company will sell mobile phones at subsidized prices. The company has collaborated with the mobile service providers to give out free SIM cards, paid for by the company. This is because the service wholly depends on the use of mobile phones.

Direct and personal selling, public relations, advertisements and sales promotion activities would all be run simultaneously and seamlessly. This will enhance the level of awareness among the audience. As time grows, the service will be rolled out nationwide systematically. When sufficient growth is achieved, the service will roll out internationally: the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Message

The service is all about mobile money transfer. Therefore, the customers have to be shown that the service is reliable, convenient and safe. It has to be very flexible. This is because the customers have to be assured that it is better than conventional money transfers. Until this is achieved, they would be reluctant to join the service due to the sensitive nature of the service. Additionally, there are other forms of money transfers in the market already. Therefore, they have to be convinced that the service being offered is the best.

The brand is ‘M-Cash’ a safe reliable mobile phone money transfer. This is the core activity, hence the core message during the marketing campaign. This ensures that the company is clear on the product and service it is offering s that the potential customers are not left confused. Because of the popularity of social networking sites, they provide the company with a large potential market (Ennis). The company will run advertisements on the sites and form groups in the sites. Bearing in mind that an average Facebook user has 130 friends and subscribes to 80 groups, reaching a wide audience is guaranteed (Griffith & Tengnah). Information will be provided about the modalities of the service. Users will also be directed to the official company website that will offer all the necessary information as well as marketing the service.

Measuring Effectiveness

Since this a new-to-the market product, the main way of measuring the effectiveness will be actual registrations. If the customers got exactly the message being passed across, they would approach the retail outlets to be registered so that they can start enjoying the service. Additionally, they will register with the sales personnel who would have gone directly to them. When there are a large number of registrations during and after the marketing, then the company can conclude that the marketing was very effective. However, if the registrations are extremely few, then it was largely ineffective. The customers will inquire for more information from the company if they have doubts. In such cases, it can be concluded that the marketing was effective. The other ways of measuring effectiveness; affiliations, attitudes and networks are not largely appropriate since the core message of the marketing campaign was for people to register and use the service (Katrandjiev, 2000).

Conclusion

Marketing is an important strategy for all businesses. However, the different marketing disciplines should not be conducted in isolation. For companies to make maximum impact, they must integrate their marketing.

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