Designing and Managing IMC – At a glance

Modern marketing calls for more than developing a good product, pricing it attractively, and making it accessible to target customers. Companies must also communicate with present and potential stakeholders, and with the general public.

The marketing communications mix consists of six major modes of communications: advertising, sales promotion, public relations and publicity, events and experiences, direct marketing and personal selling.

The communications process consists of nine elements: sender, receiver, message, media, encoding, decoding, response, feedback and noise. To get their messages through, marketers must encode their messages in a way that takes into account how the target audience usually decodes messages. They must also transmit the message through efficient media that reach audience and develop feedback channels to monitor response to the message. Consumers to a communication can be often modeled in terms of a response hierarchy and “learn-feel-do” sequence.

Developing effective communications involves eight steps: (1) Identify the target audience, (2) determine the communications objectives, (3) design the communications, (4) select the communications channels, (5) establish the total communication budget, (6) decide on the communication mix, (7) measure the communications results, and (8) manage the integrated marketing communications process.

In identifying the target audience, the marketer needs to close any gap that exists between current public perception and the image sought. Communications objectives may involve category need, brand awareness, brand attitude or brand purchase intention. Formulating the communication requires solving three problems: what to say (messages strategy), how to say it (creative strategy), and should say it (message source). Communications channels may be personal (advocate, expert, and social channels) or non-personal (media, atmospheres, and events). The objectives-and-task method of setting the promotion budget, which calls upon marketers to develop their budgets by defining specific objective is the most desirable.

In deciding on the marketing communications mix, marketers must examine the distinct advantages and costs of each communication tool and the company’s market rank. They must also consider the type of product market in which they are selling, how ready consumers are to make a purchase, and the product’s stage in the product life cycle. Measuring the effectiveness of the marketing communications mix involves asking members of the target audience whether they recognize or recall the communication, how many times they saw it, what points they recall how, they felt about the communication, and their previous and current attitudes toward the product and the company.

Managing and coordinating the entire communications process calls for integrated marketing communications (IMC): marketing communication planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles a variety of communications disciplines and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact through the seamless integration of discrete messages.