Healthy marketing calls for more than just developing a good product, pricing it attractively, and making it accessible to target customers. Organizations also must communicate with their present and potential customers, retailers, suppliers, other stakeholders and the general public.
The marketing communication mix (also referred to as promotional mix) consists of six major modes of communication.
Advertising: A paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.
–THE REASON TO BUY–
Sales Promotion: A variety of short-term incentives to encourage trial or purchase of a product or service.
–THE INCENTIVE TO BUY–
Public Relations and Publicity: A variety of programs designed to promote and/or protect an organization’s image or its individual products.
–THE IDENTIFICATION WITH BUYING–
Personal Selling: Face-to-face interaction with prospective purchasers for the purpose of making presentations, answering questions and procuring orders.
–THE HIGH TOUCH WAY TO BUY–
Direct Marketing: Use of mail, telephone, email and other non-personal contact tools to communicate directly with or solicit a direct response from specific customers and prospects.
–THE LOW TOUCH WAY TO BUY–
Online Marketing: Establishing and maintaining an online presence and relationships.
–THE DIRECT AND CONVENIENT RELATIONSHIP–
Healthy integrated marketing communication coordinates all promotional activity to produce a unified customer-focused promotional message. Too often and for many reasons, organizations do not integrate or coordinate their marketing communication efforts and unfortunately blame the communication tool. This results in dilution and confusion and even worse, unhealthy results. It also can give users bad experiences with one of the communication tools so they avoid it in the future, when actually it can be very important to the organization’s goals to approach it in a healthy and integrated manner.
Healthy marketing communications also focus on managing the buying process over time and orchestrating, integrating and coordinating the communication mix. Too often, unhealthy marketing communications focus on overcoming awareness, an image or a preference gap in the target market. Such approaches to marketing communications are limited by being too short-term and too costly, and most messages of this type fall on deaf ears.
A good starting point for ensuring a healthy communication process is to audit all the potential interactions target customers may have with your product and organization. Understanding the buying process and the elements of effective communication will help marketers allocate their communication dollars more effectively and communicate more efficiently.
Managing a healthy integrated communication and promotion program involves understanding the following eight steps: 1) Identify the target audience 2) Determine the communication objective 3) Design the message 4) Select the communication channels 5) Establish promotional budget 6) Decide on promotion mix 7) Measure the promotion results and 8) Manage effectively an integrated marketing communication process.
Major benchmarks for promotional campaigns include:
Have you achieved integrated marketing communications?
Advertising, Sales Promotion and Public Relations
Although it is not always easy to gauge the effectiveness of these marketing communication tools, they can contribute strongly to marketing performance when organizations are in peak health.
Healthy advertising programs start with identifying the target market and buyer motives. At that point the marketers can make healthy decisions when applying the 5Ms of advertising:
Mission: What are the advertising objectives?
Money: How much should we spend?
Message: What message should be sent?
Media: What media should be used?
Measurement: How should the results be evaluated?
Sales promotion is a key ingredient in marketing campaigns. Sales promotion includes tools for consumer promotion, trade promotion, and business and sales force promotion. It is usually short-term and designed to stimulate quicker and/or greater purchases of products or services.
For healthy sales promotion to occur, an organization must establish clear objectives before selecting the promotion tools and developing the program. Controlling and evaluating results also is crucial to staying healthy.
Public Relations (PR) often has been treated as a marketing stepchild or an afterthought to more serious promotion planning. A wise organization includes PR in its communication marketing mix and takes concrete steps to manage successful relations with its key publics. Healthy public relations performs the following five activities:
In many organizations, marketing managers and PR specialists do not always talk the same language. Marketing tends to orient more toward the bottom line, while PR practitioners see their job as preparing and disseminating communications. However, with a healthy integrated marketing mix, these differences do disappear and healthy PR can go beyond mere publicity and support marketing-driven goals such as:
Assisting in the launch of new products
Assisting in repositioning new products
Building interest in a product category
Influencing specific target groups
Defending products that have encountered public problems
Building the corporate image in a way that projects favorably on its products
With results of mass advertising weakening and increasing in cost, healthy PR becomes extremely effective in building awareness and brand knowledge for both new and established products. Healthy PR can potentially impact public awareness at a fraction of the cost of advertising.