The Integrated Marketing Communication system takes these P's and turns them into C's - similar aspects, but looked at from the stand point of the consumer. In this order of ideas, Product turns into Customer; Price turns into Cost; Place turns into Convenience and Promotion turns into Communication (Wirth, 2001).
The first 'P' is product, but really this is all about the customers' needs and wants. Which goods and services customers are looking for, what are the features / benefits in demand, what might be unfulfilled needs? The second 'P' is price; but in fact, this has more to do with the cost to the customer. What is their perception of value, how much are they able / willing to spend? The third 'P' is place (or distribution), but what this means is the convenience to the customer to obtain the product. Where will it be sold, are there distribution channels, is the process simple and secure? And last but not least, is promotion, and [...] this is how we communicate with our customers. To promote yourself effectively, you need to understand your customers and their perspectives" (Vargas, 2005).
All in all, Integrated Marketing Communication is the new trend in the business community and its importance and significance is expected to increase over the next few years. Basically, the IMC represents the multitude of managerial processes aimed at unifying the marketing strategies to better meet organizational goals. The Integrated Marketing Communication, through its integration of all marketing strategies, offers the answer to the initially posed question. As such, since the company stands better chances of achieving its organizational values through the implementation of the unified IMC, rather than the usage of the disparate traditional marketing strategies, than the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
3. Integrated Marketing Communications at Nike
Nike is an American-based company, headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, but with subsidies and retail stores all over the globe. Nike manufacturers and sells high quality apparel, shoes and sports equipment. Today, Nike has managed to become more than a supplier of sports equipment; they represent the trend, the fashion statement.
Nike's brand is the most valuable assets of the company's and they base most of the marketing campaigns on the Nike brand. A relevant sign indicating Nike's implementation of the Integrated Marketing Communication is given by their capability of reaching such an extended palette of customers. Most companies are only able to become the main provider for one specific target market, be this formed of teenagers, adults, senior citizens, men or women. But Nike has managed to develop such a strong marketing campaign which captured the attention of both teenagers and adults. And the message is simple: Just Do it! The message is standardized; it's the same for all items sold in the Nike stores, but it can mean a wide array of things: Teenagers, buy these cool clothes and stay on fashion! Just Do it! Or Adults, buy these great sports equipment and start exercising and having a healthier life today! Just Do it!
But the message must be kept alive at all times and the company has the obligation of backing it, for the brand or the message cannot solely sustain a successful campaign. The launching part of a new marketing campaign is a crucial part and it is the results of significant efforts which are once again aligned with the company's overall goal and integrated with the rest of the marketing strategies.
The launch comes to support and promote the brand. "Nike launches its new products through a marketing communication team that develops point-of-purchase and trade show displays, posters, video, and other visuals, all of which reinforce the positioning of, and key messages about, the Nike brand/logo" (Media Campaign, 2002).
Another sign that proves that Nike makes significant efforts to develop and implement a strong integrated marketing campaign is given by their combination of both online and offline marketing strategies. A perfect example of this was Nike's 2000 Whatever campaign. "Online and offline, Nike did Whatever to find perfect synergy [...] Nike's "Whatever" campaign not only was consistent, it was groundbreaking - so groundbreaking that major TV networks almost refused to run it" (Mara, 2000).
The basic characteristic of Nike's Whatever campaign was revealed by the company's ability to perfectly integrate traditional and online marketing. The television advertisement presented the customer racing Marion Jones, the fastest runner on the globe; but the end was not shown, sending the viewer to the campaign's website. "You're racing Marion Jones. The fastest woman in the world. Look out for the glass door. (CRASH!) What do you do? Continued at whatever.nike.com" (Mara, 2000).
The advertisements retrieved the most beneficial results: they proved once again the strong capabilities of the Nike team, managed to integrate traditional and modern marketing strategies, revolutionized the advertising community and most important, increased Nike's sales. Also, this advertisement attracted users to visit the campaign website, www.whatever.nike.com, and also increased the number of www.nike.comvisitors.
A new feature which points out that Nike has managed to successfully implement the Integrated Marketing Communications is given by the company's ability to interact with the consumers. By going to the Whatever website, the customers were able to choose from a variety of endings to the television advertisement. They were given the freedom to choose rather than being imposed the ending. Based on the immense success retrieved from the Whatever campaign, Nike "is looking forward to doing stuff that's more interactive. The Web is the one medium where people are in control. We need to stop pushing content at people and let them be in charge" (Mara, 2000).
Aside from the mixture of traditional and online marketing strategies, Nike's campaigns reveal the implementation of the IMC through an increased focus on customer. "Nike is a great example of a company that has fully embraced the concept of integrated marketing. Their integrated approach includes traditional advertising (billboard, magazine, and television); sponsoring sporting events and players such as the Superbowl and Tiger Woods; and engaging in online marketing initiatives by allowing consumers to customize their Nike shoes. They also spend a great deal of money in search marketing. Nike's approach allows them to communicate their message consistently across all media outlets; and at the same time share that message at every customer touch point; that is, use Nike products and you will increase your performance regardless of what sport you are involved in" (Marketing Tips and Ideas).
4. Conclusions and Recommendations
The Integrated Marketing Communication is a new concept familiar to the business community, but its importance is just beginning to be felt. Until recently, the IMC was considered a simple feature of the marketing science, but starting with the past decade, it has become a subject of its own. The proper implementation of the Integrated Marketing Communications is expected to revolutionize large and small size companies alike. "Based on our findings, we hypothesize that in light of the rapidly changing marketing environment in many countries, IMC will likely become not just a choice but a requirement for many clients and agencies around the world" (Kim, Han and Schultz, p.12).
Before engaging in corporate actions to implement the Integrated Marketing Communications system, companies must adopt a customer oriented philosophy, ensure training programs for the employees and plan to achieve a competitive advantage through the implementation of IMC (Slides Share, 2007). Once these aspects are ensured, the company must take the following steps:
Identify the target audience
Determine the communications objectives
Design the messaging content
Select the means for communication
Define the mix of media, budget and priorities
Measure the effectiveness of the efforts." (Vargas, 2005)
The successful implementation of the Integrated Marketing Communications is expected to support the organization in reaching its overall objectives. It ensures the unifications of all marketing strategies under a single activity with a clearly specified goal and a focus on customers' needs and perception of the company's products and services. The IMC stands as proof that the whole is grater than the sum of all the parts. But then the parts are what make the whole. And the complete standardization of all components of the marketing system might not prove as beneficial on the long-term, moreover since the number of companies adopting the IMC is expected to increase in the following years. As such, the excessive implementation of the Integrated Marketing Communications could lead to an aligning of the corporate features and a flattening of the core competencies and sustainable advantages. Under no circumstances should these possible negative outcomes prevent companies from implementing the IMC, but they are only meant to attract their attention of the importance of remaining alert and vigilant to…