Marketing communication is a crucially important component of any business practice. A company may produce high quality products or offer superior services at an attractive prices, however if an efficient marketing strategy is not in place, potential customers would not know about these products and services, therefore the business loses potential revenues.
Moreover, in today’s highly competitive marketplace in any industry this way the business may go bankrupt as well. As it has been noted, “marketing communications is anything your organisation does that affects the behaviour or perception of your customers” (Callen, 2009, p.2).
“Setting marketing communications objectives is important because: it acts as a means of assessing how best to build ongoing dialogues with audiences in order to maintain brand narrative and sustain competitive advantage; it provides a check in the use of marketing resources in the process of communicating; and it provides some arbitrary mechanism for evaluating the progress and cost of deploying these resources against budgets, previous campaigns and the competition” (Dahlen et al, 2009, p.93).
According to Egan (2007) marketing communication objectives can be classified into three broad categories:
- Knowledge-based objectives. This form of marketing communication objectives aim to stimulate awareness and interest, as well as obtain attention.
- Feeling-based objectives. These categories of marketing objectives aim at creating positive associations and values with a brand and contribute to the development of the brand identity.
- Action-based objectives mainly concentrate on the volume of sales through building and maintaining strong customer relationships.
Various factors will determine the combination of marketing communications strategies implemented and will also depend on other factors ranging from the type of industry to the actual target market. Ignoring these factors and simply executing strategies on a whim without careful analysis can lead to an unsuccessful launch or flood of problems on the international industry.
It is not enough for a business to apply the same communication strategies applied in its local market without careful examination of what would work in an international market. Evidently a system which might work for the local market might not necessarily be applicable to the international market. Therefore a clearer understanding of what combination of strategies are applicable to a particular market is essential.
Marketing communication is defined by Kotler and Keller (2006, p.536), as methods by which firms directly or indirectly try to inform, persuade and remind customers about products and brands they are selling. Picton and Broderick (2005, p.11) define integrated marketing communication as a management process integrating all marketing functions across related audience aiming to realize wider brand consistency.
The importance of an efficient marketing communication is further stressed by Brassington and Pettitt (2007, p.38) by the statement that “no organization can afford either the financial or the reputational damage caused by poorly planned or implemented communications campaigns.” This is considered to be a just assessment of the significance of marketing communication and it especially relates to supermarkets in UK where significant amount of financial resources are involved.
Fill (2006, p.7) specifies people who practice advertising, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, packaging, promotion and public relations as marketing communicators. However, anyone who is communicating with existing or potential customers to promote or sell products or services can be called a marketing communicator.
An alternative definition of Integrated Marketing Communication if offered by Percy (1997, p.13) as the planning and execution off all kinds of promotion and advertising which have been chosen for the brand or a company with the aim of achieving marketing communication objectives.
The significance of integrated marketing communication is greater nowadays than before due to the forces of globalisation in trade and business. If an efficient integrated marketing communication is in place it is possible to raise an interest for a product in a distant country and expanding to the marketplace of that country with relative ease than it was possible few years ago. However, in such occasions marketing communication strategy needs to take into account a range of factors especially local cultural differences
Marketing communications campaign planning framework, as suggested by Lancaster et al (2002, p.286), comprises following stages:
1. Defining the product strategy
2. Specifying marketing communication objectives. These objectives should be specific, measurable, short term and include targets.
3. Choosing marketing communication tactics.
4. Campaign implementation
5. Campaign evaluation and control
The following four basic components of the communication process are specified by Lancaster et al (2002, p.283):
1. The communicator (the encoder). In our case the communicator would be main supermarkets operating in UK.
2. The message (the symbols). The message sent by UK supermarkets may concern specific offers, as well as the brand promotion in general.
3. The channel (method of communication). It concerns the marketing tools supermarkets choose to use in order to promote their products and brands.
4. The audience (the decoder). UK population who can be considered potential clients to supermarkets are considered to be the audience or decoder.
“Media advertising and publicity can be obtained through interviews, articles, and paid advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television” (Pinson & Jinnet, 2003, p.187).
Lake (2011) proposes six following steps of developing an effective media plan:
- Defining the objectives for media plan.
- Defining goals in achieving the media plan objectives.
- Determining target audiences.
- Developing a schedule for public relations campaign.
- Developing a plan of attack.
- Putting measures in place to track the results.
- Brassington, F, & Pettitt, S, 2007, Essentials of Marketing, 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
- Callen, B, 2009, Managers Guide to Marketing, Advertising and Publicity, McGraw-Hill Professional
- Dahlen, M, Lange, F & Smith, T, 2009, Marketing Communications: A Brand narrative Approach, John Wiley & Sons
- Egan, J, 2007, Marketing Communications, Thomson Learning
- Fill, C, 2006,”Marketing Communications”, 4th ed., Financial Times/ Prentice Hall
- Kotler, P & Keller, K, 2006, “Marketing Management”, twelfth edition, Prentice-Hall
- Lancaster, G, Massingham, L & Ashford, R, 2002, “Essentials of Marketing”, fourth edition, McGraw-Hill
- Lake, L, 2011, Six Steps to Developing Your Public Relations and Media Plan, Available at: http://marketing.about.com/cs/publicrelations/a/prplan6steps.htm Accessed March 13, 2011
- Percy, L, 1997, Strategy for Implementing Integrated Marketing Communication, Lincolnwood: NTC Books
- Pickton, D, & Broderick, A, 2005, “Integrated Marketing Communications”, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow.
- Pinson, L & Jinnet, J, 2003, Steps to Small Business Start-Up, Kaplan Publishing