Nowadays, facing with the fierce competitive environment, it is not sufficient for organisations to only use single communication tool for marketing communication. In order to maintain and grow market share, marketing communication mix need to be utilized by organisations to attract its target audiences. Over the past few years, a growing number of companies began to change their strategy to utilize the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC) which involved integrating the various marketing communications elements along with other marketing activities to communicate with the organization’s target audiences. Moreover, the industry awareness of IMC seems to be widespread. A 1994 study, for example, Given that 76 percent of the business organizations surveyed had expressed interest in adopting some form of IMC (Phelps and Nowak, 1994). Another study of large consumer goods advertisers reported that 67 percent of those firms surveyed had used some form of IMC (Caywood and Ewing, 1991). Finally, with the rapid development of the informational technology, especially with the development of the computer technology, the implementation of IMC is being strongly promoted. This essay aims to evaluate the benefits and difficulties for organisations utilising IMC. A brief introduction of IMC will be first introduced in this essay, and then highly evaluate the benefits and diffculties of utilizing IMC for organizaitons.
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A brief introduction of integrated marketing communications (IMC)
IMC is mainly about coordinate and integrate all marketing communication tools, avenues, and sources within a company into an accurate program in order to maximize the impact on target audiences at a minimal cost. In addition, IMC is about how to use the strengths of each of those communication tools to enhance effectiveness and reduce weakness by integrated communication tools all together. The main purposes of IMC are to develop a clear positioning and encourage stakeholder relationships that are of mutual value (Fill, 2009, p.267).
Benefits of IMC for organizations
IMC is not straightforward to reach but when it is reached, it would bring a linked competitive advantage for organization (Pickton and Broderick, 2005).
Cost saving: It is essential and cost saving for an organization to utilize the IMC (Pickton and Broderick, 2001, p.68). One of the core essences of IMC is that communications processes are efficiently linked together and all the communication tools are integrated together so that they work in synchronization. Based on this situation, organization could achieve associated benefits with saving money, time and stress (Smith and Taylor, 2004). Moreover, by integrating communication tools all together, more opportunities could be provided to cut communication costs (Fill, 2011). For instance, IMC can lead to a cut in numerous agencies which bring the decrease of agency fees by using a single agency for all communications. Apart from this, IMC improves cost-effectiveness of the overall promotional action in value terms. This has a direct and positive performance on the expense of sales consideration, which eventually reflects well in organization’s balance sheet (Fill, 2011, p.117). Finally, Pulling down the cost base could enable managers to improving profits and level of productivity.
Improving management efficiency: By utilizing IMC cross the organization, all relevant marketing mix elements are connected to corporate with the desired brand positioning, strategic consistency will be achieved (Duncan and Moriarty, 1998). This can contribute to a positive result that a reduction in internal conflict and improved management efficiency in different kinds of marketing department (Cornelissen, Lock and Gardner, 2001). In a word, It is undeniable that manage an integrated communication department is definitely easier than manage different departments separately. In addition, employee participation and motivation would be increased, and the communication strategy could be reviewed to ensure its outcomes (Fill, 2009). This is another positive aspect to improve management efficiency. Improved employee participation bringing a more flexible way to manage the employee, and managers can achieve management objectives effortlessly
Increasing brand recognition: IMC requires a change in culture and improve a customer focus (Fill, 2009). Un-integrated communications send disjointed messages which usually decrease the impact of the brand, and customers may be confused by disjointed messages (Smith and Taylor, 2004). There is no doubt that a jointed message has more impact than a disjointed numerous messages. IMC delivers a jointed message around customers and helps them move through the diverse stages of the buying process. In a busy world, a consistent, enhanced and clear message has a better chance to stand out of hundreds of commercial messages which bothered customers every day (Smith and Taylor, 2004), and customers would start to pay attention to this message whilst the brand recognition would be increased.
Creating competitive advantage: IMC can bring an associated competitive advantage for organization (Pickton and Broderick, 2005) and it is supported by sound reasons. Firstly, one of the important rationales for IMC is clear positioning (Fill, 2009). Kitchen (2004) believed that IMC is actually a form of persuasive communication processes that are targeted towards the audience. Through clear positioning, organization could seize the targeting audiences in purpose. Nowadays, customers are confused by mass media commercial messages everyday, which provided a great opportunity for IMC implementation. Integrated communications has a clear selling point which appeals to organization’s key customers. It can lay a solid foundation for Customer’s loyalty. Moreover, a joint message can create a long-term relationship with customers, in other words, the most powerful competitive advantage for organization is the ability to maintain a customer in long-term which could be brought by IMC. Apart from this, another competitive advantage would be brought by the ability of controlling inconsistent messages, organizations are in a better position to develop long-term relationships with customers, and make its brand more distinct (Mike, 2005). Finally, as organizations develop expertise in IMC planning and implementation, organizations are more likely to practice an enhanced ability to compete and respond to competitors’ marketing efforts (Low, 2000).
Difficulties for Organization to utilize IMC
Despite IMC has many benefits for organization, integration is not easily achieved and while the difficulties when utilizing the IMC by organization cannot be ignored. IMC are far from reality in most companies, there are a number of barriers stop IMC being utilized efficiently and quickly (Pelsmacker et al., 2002).
Lack of internal communications: The structure of organizations may make it difficult to integrate the marketing communication. Some organizational structures separate communications, data and managers from each other. For instance, marketing department usually cannot get information from Public relation department which regularly bring on a big issue on lack of internal communication. Lack of internal communication would cause a detrimental influence that the sales force rarely meets the advertising or sales promotional people and so on (Pickton and Broderick, 2001, p.81). IMC is based on the entire internal organization make joint efforts, and lack of internal communications extremely stop IMC being utilized. This issue is widespread in the common organization which has a strong barrier prevent IMC being implemented (Pelsmacker, Geuens and Bergh, 2005).
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Limitations of manager’s ability: Lack of cross-disciplinary management skills is a general issue for managers to implement the IMC (Moriarty, 1994). Controlling the skill need a well-trained manager who has wide professional knowledge (Pickton and Broderick, 2001). The process of IMC is usually too complicated to utilized, most of managers do not have such skills to manage IMC. Moreover, when it comes to change the actual approach to marketing communications, managers seems to be unconcerned about it. This can be defined as ego problem which are important barriers to IMC (Pelsmacker, Geuens and Bergh, 2005, p. 14). The shortsighted managers are generally conventional and unwilling to utilize the IMC; and the fear of budget control ability forces managers to resist the change.
Lack of adequate budgets: Frequently, organizations are devoid of far-sight of more strategic and long-term values for marketing communication. Although the brand awareness has become increasingly important over recent years, and IMC plays an irreplaceable role on building brand awareness, budgets of utilizing IMC on long-term values of marketing communication are rarely considered an investment. Moreover, the universal problem is that budgets are usually planned with short-term rather than long-term and a cost rather than investment (Pickton and Broderick, 2001, p.82). The result is so obvious that budgets are not adequate for those needed of the full integration of marketing communications.
Potential barrier to IMC: Interest of conflicts between organization and agencies: IMC can lead to a cut in a number of agencies supporting a brand (Fill, 2011, p.116). On the one hand, in order to integrating the marketing communication, organization will employ more than one independent communications consultancy which means one of the other agencies stands to benefits from recollected budgetary source(Ewing, 2009). On the other hand, most advertising agencies still are inclined to mass media advertising rather than other forms of a marketing communication (Ewing and Davidson, 1997). In practice, it appears the greatest potential conflicts between advertising and public relations. Harris (1989) pointed out that much of blame for conflicts between advertising and public relations agencies by the reason of not understanding the significant role of public relations. Given the nature of IMC, the existing conflict between agencies and organizations of interest issues seems cannot be avoided. Given that the conflicts between organization and agencies continue to exist, the IMC still cannot be utilized well.
It is apparent to note that many companies still rely on one or two marketing communication tools in their attempt at achieving their marketing communication objectives (Joseph, 2011). There is no doubt as to the importance of utilizing integrated marketing communication in organization and helping to maintain competitive advantage. In today fast-paced, highly competitive environment, only strategically-focused IMC can help move business forward (Adams, 2006). This essay evaluates four benefits and difficulties of utilizing IMC related to understanding how IMC might be difficult to be utilized in organizations and process of IMC might result in benefits for organizations. It is conceivable that the barriers of utilized IMC cannot be ignored. Despite of its lots of barriers, IMC plays a significant role in improving the company’s ability to reach the target customers with unique messages. It is essential for organization to utilize IMC, thus moving forward in the fierce competitive environment.
Word Count: 1575 words
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