When all marketing practices, resources, and tools are used (for an organization) in an integrated manner to affect the minds of customers at a maximum level along with maximizing the organizational profit at minimal cost, it is called Integrated marketing communication.
In general, marketing begins with a “Marketing Mix”. Marketing communication or promotion is one of the elements of the Marketing Mix.
Advertising using different media, personal selling, sales promotions (sales and trade promotion), sponsorship marketing, database marketing, public relation, direct marketing, and internet marketing are the activities included in the promotion.
So, integrated service marketing communication is the integration of all these tools with other marketing mix elements in order to a get competitive advantage.
‘Integrated Promotion Mix’ is the other term used broadly for Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC). In conventional marketing, different professional agencies are appointed for promotional activities.
Here, the effect of marketing communications is not evenly distributed which results in contradictory communications making the customers confused.
Therefore, money, time, and effort, all are wasted. IMC, on the other hand, maximizes the marketing impact on customers as well as other end-users with minimum expense. The elements of integrated service marketing communication are as follows:
1. Advertising: When the target audience is influenced to purchase an offered service through a promotional message, it is called advertising.
This is performed by using different paid media such as television and radio commercials, newspaper ads, billboards, etc. Currently, ‘product placement’ is also used as an advertising tool.
2. Sales Promotion: Another important tool of the promotion mix is sales promotion. It is done to improve the sales of the service by convincing the customers to purchase the promoted service.
Some of the major techniques of sales promotion are a point of purchase (POP), premium coupon, sample distribution, and off-price selling.
3. Personal Selling: When the potential buyer and the seller interact personally with each other (telephonic or face-to-face), it is called personal selling.
This method primarily aims to motivate the buyer to recognize service, persuade a particular course of action and build a strong relationship with the customers.
4. Publicity: It is a non-paid and impersonal tool of promotion mix that publicizes the product or services through supportive news and positive editorial comments on print media like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.
5. Public Relations: Public relations (PR) aim at building and retaining the image of an individual, organization, or institution in the eyes of the public.
It is considered that the public is one who can form an image or opinion towards a particular individual or organization.
6. Direct Marketing: In order to increase sales and collect feedback, many organizations directly reach potential customers.
Traditionally, this method was not included in the promotion mix but now it is used by organizations as a part of their IMC plan. It involves different strategies, budgets, and objectives to achieve sales of the service.
7. Word-of-Mouth: When an individual or consumer passes oS his/her views regarding service to another potential consumer, it is termed word-of-mouth.
It can be either positive or negative depending upon the performance of the service. Word-of-mouth is not only inclusive of verbal communication but other means of communication like face-to-face interaction, e-mail, telephone, and text conversation.
Marketers aim at improving the performance of services in order to achieve positive word-of-mouth.
8. Online Marketing: Online marketing is the latest technique of promotion. Unlike traditional techniques of promotion, online marketing has linked the target customers directly with the organization.
It enables consumers to participate in promotional quizzes, make queries, access information, images, etc.
Due to the presence of the World Wide Web, online marketing remains the most effective method of promotion even though there are other interactive tools such as kiosks, television, CD and DVDs, etc.
9. Sponsorship: An investment made in cash or kind inactivity in consideration of access to the exploitable commercial potential connected with this activity is called sponsorship.
To date across the globe, sponsorship is identified as a significant mechanism for marketing communications, in spite of the fact that it does not qualify for a share of the total budgetary appropriation.
Sponsorships can be a boon for marketers with an increasing resistance towards advertising.
10. Event Marketing: Various IMC mechanisms like public relations, advertising, sales promotion, etc., are combined with the special phenomenon of associating a brand with a specific happening.
In order to generate exciting service-related experiences for their customers, firms can organize special events or participate in events arranged by other parties.
The company’s association in case of special events is restricted to financial or in-kind support as against sponsorships.
11. Referrals: Instead of conventional advertising, referral marketing is all about spreading the word about a product or service through a business’s present customers.
Referral marketing strategies can be useful for a wide range of companies starting from small single-owner and entrepreneur companies to big business houses from almost all industries.
Several business corporations that offer products or services can plan referral marketing campaigns.
12. Packaging: The physical evidence factor is majorly influenced by the packaging of a product. It is essential for functional reasons as well as for adding value to the service and creating a positive reputation for the service organization.
This positive image can decrease discerned risk levels related to purchasing. The package comprises the company’s interior, exterior elements, and other tangible items.
The physical facilities create the customers’ first impression or conception regarding the quality and kind of service produced besides increasing expectations from the service and the service provider.
13. Trade Shows and Exhibitions: Companies from a particular industry get together to display their new and outstanding services in trade shows or exhibitions, known as exhibits, in particularly designed booths.
Different components of a market like buyers, sellers, and competing firms come to a common platform under these trade exhibitions.
Here the prime intention of all the companies in the industry is to grab the attention of potential customers.
These exhibitions are attended by suppliers, buyers, media, and members of the industry, and sometimes the common public can also pay a visit during specific hours to such shows.
The basic motive of conducting trade shows and exhibitions is to provide clear information to the most targeted segments.
14. Corporate Communications/Identity: Corporate identity has the potential to alter the market conditions for a company.
It includes a figurative, visual system that encapsulates the company’s logo, signage, website, brochures, and advertising. The working ambiance inside the office of the company is also a part of this identity.
15. Visual Merchandising: The silent salesmen for retail formats are collectively known as Merchandise Presentation or Visual Merchandising (VM).
The visual merchandising exercise of any retail arrangement includes the lighting of the store, the mannequins, the uniform worn by the customer service staff, and other; merchandise placed in a store.