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Social marketing

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5.2 An integrated marketing communications framework

With a wide range of communications channels available to social marketers it is crucial that these deliver consistent messages. Belch and Belch (2001) describe the move towards integrated marketing communications (IMC) as one of the most significant marketing developments of the 1990s. They explain that a fundamental reason for this is the recognition by businesses of ‘the value of strategically integrating the various communication functions rather than having them operate autonomously’ (p. 12).

They adopt the American Association of Advertising Agencies definition of IMC:

… a concept of marketing communications planning that recognises the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines – for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications impact.

(Belch and Belch, 2001, p. 11)

The basis of this plan is illustrated in Figure 6.

Figure 6
Source: Belch and Belch (2001, p. 26)
Figure 6 An integrated marketing communications planning model

The integrated marketing communications programme is developed by reference to a number of factors, i.e.

  • The overall marketing plan, including marketing objectives and competitor analysis.

  • The promotional programme situation, e.g. internally – previous experience and ability with respect to promotions – and externally – consumer behaviour analysis, segmentation, targeting and positioning decisions.

  • Communications process analysis – e.g. communication goals, receiver's response processes, source, message and channel factors.

Finally, the available budget and decisions with respect to budget allocation will input into the planning process.

Figure 6 illustrates six main approaches to marketing communications. We will now look at these in turn with respect to social marketing communications.

1. Advertising

Advertising can be defined as ‘any paid form of non-personal communication about an organisation, product, service or idea by an identified sponsor’ (American Marketing Association).

Advertising decisions include those relating to:

  • The use of the various media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines).

  • How advertising can be developed for a specific target audience.

  • The use of rational and/or emotional appeals; in particular the use of fear appeals to transmit messages.

Activity 7

Read the section of Chapter 5, Social Marketing: Why should the Devil have all the best tunes? (linked below), and try Exercise 5.2.

Click the link below to open the section of Chapter 5. (6 pages, 1597KB)

Fear messages in marketing [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

2. Sales promotion

Whereas advertising is traditionally associated with long term brand building and can reach a wide audience, particularly with the growth in global media, sales promotion is more often considered a short-term approach to generating sales. Promotional tools include introductory offers, competitions and point of sale promotions. These approaches can be readily associated with commercial sector organisations, for example, Boots (a UK retail chemist chain) uses in-store posters to promote the benefits of stopping smoking.

3. Public relations/publicity

Similar to advertising, publicity is a non-personal form of communication, but here there is no direct payment and no identifiable sponsor. Consequently publicity may also be negative, or adverse, since the organisation, group or individual may not be able to control it. For social marketers, publicity, negative and positive, often arises in the media as a result of scientific reports dealing with issues such as childhood obesity or environmental pollution. ‘Media advocacy’, which is a term derived from public health, refers to situations where the media are encouraged to cover particular issues and consequently communicate these to the public and/or specific target markets.

4. Personal selling

In the previous section, we looked at the wide range of stakeholders who are involved in social marketing programmes. These include a number of individuals and organisations who will be responsible for providing information and communicating with target audiences. As with all communication there is an issue of source credibility, and the credence which consumers, or potential consumers, give to a particular source is of paramount importance. The role of (health) professionals in many social marketing campaigns is an important one.

5. Direct marketing

This involves direct selling, direct response advertising, telemarketing, etc. and is a rapidly growing medium in the commercial world. A particular reason for this is the growth in use of the internet as discussed below.

6. Interactive/internet marketing

Fill (2002) describes the internet as ‘a distribution channel and communications medium that enables consumers and organisations to communicate in radically different ways’. Improvements in technology have dramatically changed the nature of communications and the ways of reaching target markets. This is particularly true of younger consumers which many social marketing programmes seek to target. The use of the internet as a complementary channel to television and other media was adopted in the UK in the ‘Get Unhooked’ smoking cessation campaign.