Integrated Marketing Communication

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"Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan. It evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines – for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion and PR – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications impact."

-American Association of Advertising Agencies

The importance of implementing a sound Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) campaign by any organisation is to properly compliment their sales efforts by effectively gaining awareness from the target market. Essentially, a successfully-implemented IMC campaign would draw maximum attention towards the company's main offering of products and/or services. Promotion (of Marketing Mix) uses five main tools to achieve its communications goal. These include Advertising, Personal Selling, Sales Promotion, Direct Selling and Public Relations. Traditionally, companies tend to employ only one/two tools to realise their goals. Today's competitive market, however, has made it increasingly difficult to achieve similar results without integrating most or all of the five tools.

Kotler (2003) justifies the integration necessity of the tools by clarifying that, "the proliferation of new types of media, along with the growing sophistication of consumers, makes it imperative that companies move towards Integrated Marketing Communications." Ideally, IMC is a synergic concept that understands the added value of a wide-ranging communications plan in appealing consumers. The purpose of this paper is to exemplify the importance of Integrated Marketing Communication by studying a real IMC effort by an existing company. A cross-sectional study would be conducted by assimilating available information as a result of the chosen company's IMC efforts. Their efforts are then analysed into a Strength-Weakness layout to identify its pros and cons. With the identification of its Strengths-Weaknesses, this paper would then formulate a new IMC campaign to address the shortcomings. The ensuing strategies-revamp would be recommended with relevant justifications. Studies for this paper would be based on a boutique café namely DELIcious owned by the local Ms. Read boutique franchise. (For company brief, please refer to Appendix A.)

2.0Current IMC Campaign
At present, DELIcious adopts three main promotional tools namely, Advertising, Sales and Promotion and Public Relations. DELIcious advertises in major local English newspapers such as ‘The Star', ‘The Edge', and ‘The Sun' to notify the publics on new branch openings and sponsorships of charitable causes. The rationale behind using the medium is based on the high reach factor of newspapers. Besides the high readership, the medium is one of the most cost effective modes to reach a vast number of audiences. Subscribers of the parent company, Ms. Read's privilege card enjoys 10% discount from the menu of any DELIcious outlet. Beyond the privilege card, it is rare for DELIcious to provide special discounts except Anniversary Specials. This is due to the purchasing power of its target white collar middle- upper-class market that are not price-sensitive but conversely willing to spend more for quality food or a rewarding dining experience. As a subsidiary of Ms. Read, DELIcious rips substantial credits from the ties established by Ms. Read in contributing to numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs). DELIcious is thereafter associated with a long list of charitable events (refer to Appendix B). The charitable causes generate good publicity for DELIcious as the company fulfilled its obligation to practise corporate social responsibility. Through this, Ms. Read and DELIcious have successfully built a strong public image. The Strength and Weaknesses of this running IMC has been interpreted into Table 2.1 below.

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