Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a vital aspect of any business organization. In most cases, it entails the effective promotion of a new service or product to a targeted niche market in an effective and appropriate manner. The main purpose of IMC is to instill some mental or behavioral response towards the projected group. Several tools designed to fulfill this fundamental mandate of the IMC, and they include advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations and personal selling. Although these are the main tools used by many companies for IMC purposes, there are other non-formal forms of marketing communication such as gossip, word-of-mouth, and so on that also have profound effects to the organizations' promotion of goods.
Advertising seems to be everywhere we go and in all aspects of human lives today. Starting from the moment someone turns on the TV set, or tunes in into a favorite radio station, to the bill boards on the street and posters informing the audiences of the next block buster and so on, it is a constant bombardment by the advertisements of different products (Shah & D'Souza, 2009). It, therefore, implies that advertisements are a part of the modern world and cannot be wished. Jacobs (2006) describes advertising as, "advertising is a blend of art and commerce." The effects of advertising may not be too obvious, and more often than not, people do not even realize its effects. Decision making for most consumers can be categorized into two major levels; high-involvement decision making and low-involvement decision making. In the first category, the consumer may need to acquire expensive products like an expensive holiday, buying a car or condor whereas the low-level involvement involves small items that are bought often. It, therefore, does not require too much thought and agonizing for consumers to make decisions on the brand to buy. Moreover, in most cases, in the low-involvement decision making there are a wide range of similar products to choose from, and most customers never mind too much which brand they choose to buy. However, it is at this level of decision-making that advertising's effects seem to be most effective while at the same time hardest to realize (Sutherland, 2009). Therefore, advertising can be viewed as a process purposely designed to change create a favorable perception in the minds of customers about a product so as to improve its sales.
Advertising has a lot of benefits to both the company involved in the sale of the product and the consumer at large. First, advertising enlightens the consumer about the product. Considering the sale of bottled water, the advertiser might say that water makes the skin supple and, therefore, will have educated the consumer. Secondly, advertising provides information regarding where the product can be found, how the product can be used and, therefore, helps the consumer make an informed choice. Advertising also creates career opportunities for a large number of people such as advertising agencies. On the other hand, some of the information provided through advertising may not be accurate, or may create an impression that only a particular product possesses some qualities or features. Moreover, more often than not, advertising leads to impulse buying, which is not a good habit for any individual. It also creates a desire in some individuals for products that they may not really need (Seng et al., 2002).
Direct marketing is a system of selling products directly between the producer or marketer and the consumer. In other words, the need for middlemen such as wholesalers or retailers is eliminated. There are a number of platforms where direct marketing is engaged, and these include internet marketing, direct radio or TV engagements, mail and e-mail, and telemarketing. Companies that use direct marketing do not have a distribution channel and depend entirely on their representatives to directly sell their products to customers. Therefore, such companies are forced to keep databases with the relevant information about their target customers such as their addresses, names and other relevant information (Shah & D'Souza, 2009).
The main advantages of using direct marketing is its effectiveness in market segmentation and specialization based on an already established database. This allows marketers to personalize their products for individual customers and also enhances feedback collection from the target groups for future improvements. It is also very convenient for the customer since services are brought closer and all they need to do is place…