A Rapidly Shifting Marketing Landscape

Advertising and marketing face a ­rapidly shifting landscape. A new order has emerged from the decline in traditional media viewership, combined with a dramatic rise in internet and social media usage. The variety of available media means that effective advertising and marketing promotions require more than just one well-made commercial. Advertising and marketing venues range from simple standalone billboard advertise- ments to complex, multilingual global websites, and social media posts. The number of ways to reach potential customers continues to increase while alternative methods expand and become ­increasingly popular. Connectivity and interaction with consumers through methods such as mobile marketing have changed much of marketing communications to real-time conversations as consumers make purchasing decisions. In the face of these cluttered conditions, firms continue to seek to be heard. In response, some advertisers and companies have moved to innovative new approaches to reach ongoing and potential new customers.

Quality marketing communication takes place when customers (the receivers ) decode or understand the message as it was intended by the sender. Effective marketing communications depend on receivers encountering the right message and responding in the desired fashion, such as by seeking out the company and purchasing its products.

At present, many view communication in a manner that more closely resembles a “dance” between a sender and receiver, each transmitting and receiving verbal and nonverbal cues interactively. Just as a partner responds in real time to the eye contact, movement, and the subtle press of personal touch transmitted along with words by the other person, companies are required to react and reply to messages received from consumers, all the while seeking to continue to transmit consistent, memorable, and persuasive messages. Both partners (companies and customers) deal with the challenge of noise and clutter as the interaction progresses. At the same time, the fundamentals of preparing and presenting effective marketing messages remain largely the same.

Consequently, the marketing professionals involved in the communication process pay attention to each aspect of the communications model to ensure that every audience member encounters a consistent message. They make sure it cuts through noise and clutter. Common objectives marketing teams seek to achieve include an increase in market share, sales, and brand loyalty. As noted, communicating with consumers and other businesses requires more than creating attractive advertisements. An effective program integrates all marketing activities and develops high speed interactions with consumers through a variety of mobile devices. The upcoming section describes the nature of integrated marketing communications.

The communications model provides the foundation for advertising and marketing pro- grams. Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the coordination and inte- gration of all marketing communications tools, avenues, and sources in a company into a seamless program designed to maximize the impact on customers and other stakeholders. The program covers all of a firm’s business-to-business, market channel, customer-focused, and internally-directed communications.

Before further examining an IMC program, consider the traditional framework of marketing promotions. The marketing mix , which consists of products, prices, distribution systems, and promotions, is the starting point. Traditional promotional activities include advertising, sales promotions, and personal selling activities. Now, however, companies incorporate digital and mobile marketing, social media, and alternative methods of communication into the program. The marketing mix requires additional activities including database marketing, direct response marketing, personal selling tactics, sponsorships, and public relations programs.

A complete IMC plan combines the elements of the marketing mix: products, prices, distribution methods, and promotions. While this textbook primarily deals with the promotions component, note that, in order to present a unified message, the other elements of the marketing mix will be blended into the program. A strategic marketing plan forms the basis for integrated marketing communications. The plan coordinates the components of the marketing mix to achieve harmony in the messages and promotions relayed to customers and others. A current situational analysis involves an examination of the firm’s present market situation. Next, marketers conduct a SWOT analysis by studying the factors in the organisation’s internal and external environments. SWOT identifies internal company strengths and weaknesses along with the marketing opportunities and threats present in the external environment.

Defining primary marketing objectives establishes targets such as higher sales, an increase in market share, a new competitive position, or desired customer actions includ- ing visiting the store and making purchases. Marketing objectives are assigned to key target markets. Understanding both helps company leaders prepare an effective integrated marketing communications program.

Based on the marketing objectives and target market, the team develops marketing strategies. These strategies apply to the ingredients in the marketing mix and include all positioning, differentiation, and branding strategies. Marketing tactics guide the day-by-day activities necessary to support marketing strategies. The final two steps in the marketing plan consist of stating how to implement the plan and specifying methods to evaluate performance.

The steps of the strategic marketing plan pull together all company activities into one consistent effort. They provide guidance to company leaders and marketing experts as they coordinate the firm’s overall communications package.