CASE STUDY ANALYSIS
Here in this report, the researcher will try to critically analyze 1st Communication Limited’s use of various social networking sites as a part of their marketing communication attempts. The company tries to provide communication services to its target customers by maintaining a proper external as well as internal marketing communication processes and by fulfilling its relationship marketing objectives. The researcher through this report will try to evaluate to what extent 1st Communication is successful in achieving its relationship marketing objectives by utilizing various social networking sites. In the concluding part of the report, the researcher will also make some effective recommendations for the company with the help of which the company will be able to more effectively utilize social networking sites in its marketing communication.
Before entering into a detailed discussion about 1st Communication Limited’s marketing communication and relationship marketing initiatives through various social networking sites, it is important to have a theoretical understanding of the concept of marketing communication and relationship marketing. A brief discussion should also be rendered on the various entrepreneurial approaches to marketing communication and the role of social networking sites in the marketing communication of small entrepreneurial firms.
Marketing communication is basically considered as a tactic or a strategy in order to deliver the marketing message to the target customers. In other word, marketing communication is related to the element of promotion mentioned in the Marketing Mix which consists of four Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion (Percy, 2008). Therefore, it is often observed that marketing communication is referred as the Promotional Mix. It is simply because of the fact that Promotional Mix successfully highlights the elements which are mandatorily needed in order to formulate a marketing communication strategy for any business organization on earth. Marketing communication stands in direct contrast against corporate communication in which the primary focus of the communication solely rotates around the organization itself (Kotler and Armstrong, 1991). In reality, marketing communication is seen to be practicing marketing activities like advertising, publicity, promotion and branding. For example, it can be said that marketing communication has a solemn objective of creating brand awareness with the help of which customers become able to differentiate a particular product from other look-alike products available in the market. A discussion on the marketing communication mix will enable the reader to gain a good understanding of the different activities related to marketing communication.
Marketing Communication Mix:
Marketing communication mix illuminates majorly six effective ways through which a business firm can communicate its marketing messages to its target customers. The ways are:
Advertising is a paid form of product promotion imitative through which consumers are acquainted with a new product available in the market. Advertising usually provides a picturesque presentation of a new product or a service in order to easily attract the attention of the target market. It follows a non-personal form of communication generally delivered for a large number of customers (Belch and Belch, 2009). However, it is necessary to mention that it is an expensive marketing communication initiative generally not suitable for small entrepreneurial firms.
Sales Promotion is basically conducted with a vision to encourage customers for purchasing a new product or service available in the market (Kotler and Armstrong, 1991). Through this, customers are usually given short-term incentives so that they feel encouraged to give a trial of the new product of service.
Organizing Special Events for the successful launch of a new product or service is considered to be an effective marketing communication activity through which the concerned organization gains an opportunity to interact with its different stakeholders. Since this is an interactive communication activity, consumers get a chance to resolve their queries related to the new product or service directly from the representatives of the firm (Percy, 2008). This very marketing communication activity plays an important role in creating brand awareness amongst the masses.
Public Relation (PR) is an important marketing communication activity with the help of which a producing firm becomes able to protect or promote its image in the front of the masses. The promotion of the firm’s new product can be successfully done through its PR activities.
Direct Marketing is considered to be the most inexpensive yet effective marketing communication activity for today’s business organizations. The unprecedented growth in the field of communication technology helps modern organizations to reach to a large amount of customers within a fraction of second. With the help of modern communication tools like e-mail, telephone, mobiles and internet, it has become easier for modern organizations to deliver their marketing messages to their target customers in the most cost effective way (Tollinen and Karjaluoto, 2011). In case, the organization trying to conduct its marketing communication through direct marketing has a target market in the younger population, this very marketing communication tool will prove to be of great use. The personalized marketing messages delivered through e-mail, mobile messaging, social media and social networking sites to the younger people will immediately attract the attention of this tech savvy generation.
Personal Selling is another effective marketing communication tool in which the consumer and a representative from the producing firm often sit for a face to face interaction. The representative tries to clear the doubts and confusion of a prospective customer and persuades him to avail the product. The representatives often give presentations and demonstrations of the new product in front of the prospective customers to influence their purchase decision.
Marketing Communication Planning:
There are numerous approaches available for constructing an effective marketing communication plan. However, SOSTAC Planning System seems to be the most effective one for solving the above mentioned purpose. The SOSTAC framework has six important elements of a planning process. The elements are Situational Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control (Tollinen and Karjaluoto, 2011). A marketing communication planning process can follow the very framework only because of the fact that the elements of the framework have certain similarity with the activities that need to be considered while formulating a promotional campaign. By following the SOSTAC framework, the six important steps of marketing communication planning can be structured.
Considering social, ethical, legal and regulatory issues
Entrepreneurship Approaches to Marketing Communication:
There are primarily four entrepreneurship approaches which are applicable to solving internal as well as external marketing communication related issues faced by a business organization. The approaches are as follows:
Mental Act- In this approach the primary aim of an entrepreneur acts as a major driving force which tries to create continuous opportunities which otherwise remained unperceived. This very approach is equally applicable to internal as well as external marketing communication processes.
Evolution- A business firm often faces issues which try to ask direct questions to the innovative phenomenon that promotes economic conditions, non-individuality and different environmental factors. This approach is ideal to handle those issues.
Actors- as far as the endowment of an entrepreneur are concerned, the capital venture, the human resources and the spirit of the entrepreneur are probably the notable ones (Johannisson and Nilsson, 1989). All these endowments are used to introduce a new business.
Human Resources- This very entrepreneurship approach is considered to be an empirical application. It has a direct link with the optimal theory related to investment. The investment theory related to physical capital which has a tendency to use marginal analysis has given birth to this concept.
Role of social networking sites in marketing communication:
Integrated marketing communications in recent times are incorporating social media and social networking sites to the promotional mix of a product or service in order to reach to a huge number of customers frequently found on the web. The concept of social media marketing is evolved due to concentrate on the creation of web based content that can at once capture the attention of the readers and can compel them to share the content with their social networks. Modern business organizations are trying to utilize this social capital for their benefits (Jack et al. 2008). With the help of social networking, it is often observed that a brand’s marketing message is spreading from one user to another which claims authenticity for the brand. This is so because the message is spreading from authentic third party sources, not from the official sources of the organization. Social networking sites can be successfully used for word of mouth endorsement of products as a mere marketing message can go viral within a flash of a minute through various social networks.
The effectiveness of social networking can be found in its ability to circulate a huge quantity of data about prospective customers who have shown some interest in a product or in a service. The technological innovation of semantic analysis allows marketers to easily identify the signals from the willing buyers who have shared or commented on an online content (Djukic, 2011). By identifying the signals, the sales executives of the producing firm can focus on the willing buyers.
Through various social networking sites, a business firm gets an opportunity to enter into effective interactions and conversations with the followers. From these conversations, the firms get a fair amount of idea about the exact market demand, the expectation of the customers from the organization and the extent to which the customers are showing loyalty to the brand (Levy, 2010). From this interaction, the firm often gets innovative ideas from its customers and followers a reflection of which it can place on its products and services.
Social networking sites like Facebook often provide opportunities to the organization of giving effective customer services and offering speedy solution to customer grievances with the help of which the firm can gain an increased level of customer satisfaction and a repeat business (Jack et al. 2008).
Social networking sites are important weapons for new entrepreneurial firms. They can give a perfect start to this small entrepreneurial venture. In today’s world, small business organizations are using this inexpensive marketing medium not only to deliver their marketing messages and conduct promotional activities, but also to increase their customer base (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). An example of Maes Beer can best explain the above argument. The small beer producing firm has declared on its Facebook page that the company will offer a free barrel of beer to all those who have “Maes” as their last name. The only condition that the company imposes on them is that they have to share the link of the company’s official Facebook page to a minimum of 20 friends and acquaintances. The result of this marketing campaign reveals a surprising outcome in which as many as 7000 individuals have transformed their last names “Maes” in their respective Facebook page and the company bagged more than 75,000 “Likes” in a single business day. The result does not end here. In the following six weeks after the publication of this offer, as many as 500,000 individuals have made a visit to the Maes Beer’s official Facebook Page.
st Communication Limited’s Use of Social Networking Sites:
The communication service provider of London has tried to utilize its official Facebook page for offering latest updates on their newly launched products and services. The page contains expert opinions and review of the company’s newly launched communication products and services. Through this social networking medium, the company tries to offer effective customer services by providing quick solution to customer complaints. Apart from Facbook, the company is connected with other popular social networking sites like Twitter, Linkedin and Bebo.
Recommendations for 1st Communication Limited:
The following are the recommendations for 1st Communication Limited following which the company will be able to utilize social networking sites more effectively for conducting its marketing
The company can think of announcing special offers or contests in its official Facebook page in order to grab the attention of its targeted young customers.
The company can create an official forum for its customers by utilizing social networking sites where the customers can record their opinions, advises and suggestions for the improvement of the existing products and services of the company. Through this forum, the company will be able to understand what additional features the customers are expecting in the company’s manufactured mobile phones.
1st Communication should post regular feeds on their Twitter Accounts regarding its offered products and services by including a comparative study between the company’s products and those of its competitors.
It is extremely necessary for 1st Communication Limited to successfully utilize various social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin as the company’s target market happens to be the younger population of UK.
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