The manner in which the four components of IMC (i.e. advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations) are combined into an effective whole is called the IMC mix. The promotion mix tends to be highly customized. While, in general, we can conclude that business-to-business marketers tend to emphasize personal selling and sales promotion over advertising and public relations, and that mass marketers are just the opposite, there are many exceptions. However, the following factors tend to have an impact on the particular IMC mix a company might select:
- Marketing/IMC objectives: Companies that desire broad market coverage or quick growth in market share, for example, must emphasize mass advertising in order to create a dramatic and simultaneous impact.
- Nature of the product: The basic characteristics of product (highly technical) suggest the need for demonstration and explanation through personal selling, or mass advertising in the case of a product with emotional appeal (perfume).
- Place in the product lifecycle: Products in the introductory stage in the life cycle often need mass advertising and sales promotion, those in maturity need personal selling, and those in decline employ sales promotion.
- Available resources: Companies with limited financial and human resources are often restricted to sales promotion and public relations while those with plenty of both opt for mass advertising and personal selling.2
The most striking fact about IMC techniques is their cross-substitutability. They represent alternate ways to influence buyers to increase their purchases. It is possible to achieve a given sales level by increasing advertising expenditures or personal selling, or by offering a deal to the trade or a deal to customers. This substitutability calls for treating the various IMC tools in a joint-decision framework.