Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization’s success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By ensuring direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you’re examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are ethically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:
This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technological communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:
This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, premiums, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:
This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news/press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by presenting the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:
This tool will utilized email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:
Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversy. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.

How to Become a Direct Marketing Copywriter

There are no shortcuts to become an expert direct marketing copywriter. The expertise which many copywriters want to possess comes with a lot of practice, a lot of cross- referencing, and a lot of exposure to new and different methods and styles of writing direct mail marketing copies. However, one point worth remembering is: the ultimate aim of your copy is to sell the product and nothing else. Therefore there are no set ways or methods of writing the ‘perfect’ direct marketing copy. Whatever style is makes a successful sale is the best!

However, a few pointers would see you through if you are attempting to write a direct marketing copy yourself. Firstly, be friendly. You are attempting to ‘connect’ with a vast pool of faceless and nameless people who you call your audience. The only welcome approach would be the friendly one. Speak to your audience as you would speak to them over a cup of coffee. Keep your tone warm and engaging. Make your audience feel that they are the single most important species on the planet. There is nothing like a little ego massage to get you going. Secondly, never bore your audience with long sentences, jargons, technical terms, and a story about yourself! Most copywriters tend to focus so much on themselves- why they are what they are and so on, that they forget about their objective of writing the copy. Your audience doesn’t care a zilch about who YOU are and why you are selling whatever it is that you are selling. And you know what, they don’t even care two hoots about the product! Seriously! All they want to know is why they should buy your product and what use would it be to them. So before writing about all those ‘salient features’ of your product in bullet points, get your act together and write, instead, what the benefits of your product are.

Your copy is directly responsible for the image of your company. If you write negative things about some other companies or products, it would reflect on the reputation of your company. The best way to keep a squeaky clean reputation would be to avoid indulging in verbal battles. Many companies indulge in rabble rousing copies about how ineffective their competitors’ products are compared to their own. Keep away from any such intentions even if you are tempted to. Always let your customers be the final judge.

The last advice would be to make sure that your product lives up to its reputation. Your copy would have created an image in the minds of your audience about your product. If, by any chance, it fails to deliver in one or more parameters, your customers would write it off immediately. And a negative remark takes negligible time to spread and can seriously damage your reputation in the market.

Direct Selling Companies – Consider the Costs of Doing Business

Many people are looking for ways to make money from home. One popular home based business model is Direct Sales. Sometimes called party plans, direct sales companies include businesses like Avon, Mary Kay, Tubberware, and Ameriplan.

Direct Sales and Party Plan Companies are also called network marketing companies. They focus not only on selling products or services, but also recruiting other salespeople into the company. These type of home based businesses are best for people with outgoing personalities who enjoy hosting parties, inviting people to events, and talking to strangers. If you decide to sell products or services for one of these companies you will usually be an independent sales representative or independent contractor, NOT an employee. You most likely will be paid commissions when you sell a product, or when someone you recruit or sponsor into the business, sells a product. If you don’t make any sales, you won’t make any money.

There are usually costs associated with doing business, and one must consider these costs prior to joining the business. There may be monthly fees to pay, which may cover your company website or national marketing campaigns. There may also be costs associated with the products you sell. The independent consultant may be required to buy the products first at a wholesale rate, then resell the product to customers at retail price, thus keeping their profit. Other companies may NOT require the independent sale representative to carry the inventory, but rather the items are drop shipped directly to the consumer. Customers may be able to order products from a company website or only from the independent representative. The independent sales rep may need to pay to marketing materials, products, samples, training courses and monthly fees.

Before joining any company, find out the actual costs that are mandatory, like a required monthly fee. Then try to get an estimate of variable costs, like advertising expenses, from an independent rep already in the business. You may also want to talk to people who have “failed” or “quit” this business. They may give you a more accurate description of the costs involved. Calculate how many products you would need to sell per month in order to just break even after your expenses are paid. If this number feasible? How many hours or parties will you need to host to meet this minimum amount of sales? Will you have additional income from the sale of products from a company website or do all product sales come from in person transactions? These are all things to consider when deciding to start a home business in direct selling or party plan type companies.

Before joining any company as a sales representative, make sure to check out their credentials with the Direct Selling Association at www.dsa.org. Also make sure to read the Better Business Bureau report on their company.