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MA Marketing Communications
IMC CAMPAIGN PLANNING PROJECT
Module Guidelines
Module Outline & Guidelines

Overview of the Module

The IMC CAMPAIGN PLANNING PROJECT is a 30-credit module, with three core assessments that requires you to apply your course learning from the modules of the Masters degree to ‘real life’ brands and organisations.

This module is a practice-based project in which students make an assessment of a brand’s current situation and future potential in relation to marketing opportunities, brand and marketing communications. They then go on to develop an in-depth, comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan for the future. The module is delivered through class sessions, a residential workshop and one to one tutoring with an individually allocated supervisor.

Teaching & Learning Methods

Classes and Inputs

Various aspects of IMC are covered across the full-taught degree programme in the individual modules that are then supplemented by specific inputs contained in the module Contemporary Issues in Integrated Marketing Communications. This is further supported by a residential workshop that focuses on the application of an Integrated Marketing Communication plan for a specific brand.

Supervision

Each student is allocated a personal supervisor to guide their progress in the project.

Working with the supervisor

Each supervisor is allocated approx. 3 hours contact time with the student which relate to a series of meeting (face to face or distance discussions; skype, email etc.) to be arranged between the supervisor and student. An indication of the key topics at each meeting is outlined in the schedule.

It is the students’ responsibility to manage their time well over the period and students should not expect supervisors to be available at the last minute for support. Some supervisors will be unavailable for periods during the process (holidays etc.) and you will need to be flexible around each other’s availability.

Aim to establish availability at the outset, so you can plan your activities carefully.

Overview of IMC Project module

Marks

Word Guideline

W1

Workshop Project

10/100

Presentation

P1

Project proposal - concept submitted for appraisal

The rationale for the Project Proposal of Marketing Communication

20/100

3,000

P2

The Integrated Marketing Communications Project

70/100

12,000

The Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for the project – set out in 4parts:

2A

Campaign Objectives and Scope

15/100

3,000

2B

Communications and Campaign Strategy- Specific Proposals

15/100

3,000

2C

IMC Delivery

30/100

5,000

2D

Campaign Outcomes Evaluation

10/100

1,000

Notes on topic selection:

Data Availability

  • Choosing markets or sectors with limited data availability may prejudice the quality of your situation analysis and IMC campaign and the subsequent mark awarded.
  • However, if you are able to make realistic assumptions and projections for relevant data gathered, then this may compensate, but these assumptions must be clearly stated throughout the project. This is not a ‘data collection’ test, but you will be expected to explore available sources, and are unlikely to score well with basic sources and an over-reliance on Mintel.

Size of the organisations

  • Choosing very small organisations with limited financial resources and MC scope may cause problems as they may not able to support an integrated communications plan. Thus whilst you do not have to utilise all MC tools, if the budget only allows very limited scope for MC development then you may not be able to fully explore the interrelationships of an IMC campaign, thus limiting your opportunities to achieve the module objectives.

Target Market

  • This needs to be regionally focussed – so normally the UK or part of UK. Resources are mostly UK based.

P1 – IMC Project Proposal

This first stage proposal establishes the background that underpins the IMC Project, and proposes a justified IMC outline plan. Its purpose is to set out a clear strategic direction for the company that is then supported by a well-planned, integrated marketing communications campaign.

This submission, which is similar in content to the Marketing and Branding module coursework, enables the course team to evaluate the proposal for its suitability and to make suggestions for change and amendment to ensure a robust assignment. The submission may also highlight the need for specialist supervision that may be available from the pool of supervisors available.

Summary of the proposal

You will need to select a marketing sector and a specific brand within it that you can build a future IMC campaign around. You will need to select and define a geographic region. This should be the UK where you have most experience and knowledge of media and marketing communications, where we have extensive resources and market data and where we have the most specialist supervisors.

In this proposal you will need to consider the marketing of the brand and its future direction. You will need to demonstrate, through a comprehensive situation analysis, an understanding of the market dynamics, the core competition and the brand’s key strengths and weaknesses. You will need to show comprehension of its branding and positioning as well its marketing performance, expressed through the marketing mix elements. There needs to be a specific emphasis on how it and its competition have managed their marketing communications to date.

From this current situation analysis you will need to formulate credible marketing strategy for the future that needs to consider strategic development for product, for markets and for the brand. Relevant tools such as Ansoff and SWOT should be employed. Any product development, extension, re-positioning, re-branding and/or market changes will need to be explained through analysis of their current problems and a clear rationale for change.
However there is no requirement for any significant change to marketing strategy or to the target market. You may consider an unchanged product, market and brand and simply consider, for this project, how the marketing communications element can be improved for the future.

You will need to present financial analysis that reviews, evaluates and projects the brand’s sales, profit and promotional spend, in relation to that of the other key market players.

The proposal should conclude with clear, quantified marketing objectives and an overview of the core IMC objectives – considering what you plan to achieve through IMC; what message you will develop and an idea of which media will be selected. The IMC plan does not need detailed quantification at this stage but should indicate an overall budget, which is expressed using financial data.

Key contents of the Proposal:

Summary -outlining the proposal for marketing communications

  • Market or industry definition and parameters
  • Market dynamics & trends focussing on opportunities and threats
  • Competitor evaluation leading to summation of relative strengths and weakness
  • Overview of selected brand
  • Outline of current brand’s marketing activity – with a focus on communications
    • This should answer the question: ‘where are we now?
  • Clarification of strategic marketing opportunity to be developed for the brand detailing the recommendation for future. This should be fully justified.
    • This should answer the question: “ Where do we want to be?
  • The quantified marketing objectives and overview IMC objectives.
  • Summary of financial analysis as appropriate throughout the discussion
  • Your discussion must be presented using appropriate analytical frameworks.
  • Your proposal should explicitly conclude
    • What needs to be done and why.”
    • The role that Marketing Communications will play in the brand’s plan.

These sections need to be clearly and fully expressed and justified, as this will form the initial chapters of the final IMC project. This will be marked at the initial proposal stage and will not be marked again in the final submission.

As always, much of the detail can be presented in the appendices with the critical analysis and summary in the main text.

Primary Research in the IMC project

Primary research is NOT a requirement for the IMC project.

If you wish to conduct primary research (say a focus group, small scale survey or interview with specialists in the industry) you will need to gain permission from the University’s Ethics Committee. You will need to complete an application which explains your research, its role and importance and await approval before commencing any research.

Additional Support notes for this section: -------------------------------------

What needs to be done and why?

This stage is essentially the development and detail of the proposal idea within the context of the host organisation and the market environment.

Research sources

There is no requirement for you to do any primary research as you do not have either the permission (see above), the time or the resources.

However, evidence based on secondary research is critical to your project’s credibility, and all analysis and development should be carefully and academically referenced/evidenced.
A critical assessment of the secondary research that you have accessed and used is very important to achieve and should be summarised at this point. Thus you should include a section on your project methodology that is supported fully by the reference and bibliography section; all presented using Harvard reference system.

Marketing Objectives/Strategic context

From a combination of the macro and microanalyses conclusions and recommendations should be produced that will answer the question - Where do we want to be? This should then be expressed in terms of marketing objectives. Marketing objectives should be expressed through product terminology such as market share, market entry, or market terminology such as customer retention, or customer acquisition/new market development.

These objectives should be SMART and are likely to be expressed by using (as appropriate) strategic growth models – Ansoff, SWOT, etc.

There should be a clear presentation of the financial implications of the proposed activity, which relates directly to the IMC budget, developed in later sections.

Recommendation of the IMC Plan

An outline of the proposal for IMC plan should be given, which shows how IMC can deliver to the identified marketing objectives. This should include and overview of the message and media as well as budget and timings.

P2 PART The IMC Project

This part sets out the detail of the how the potential opportunity should be realised.

P2 The Integrated Marketing Communications Project  	     70/100	12,000
The Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for the project – set out in 4parts:	
2A  Campaign Objectives and Scope	                     15/100	3,000
2B Communications and Campaign Strategy- Specific Proposals  15/100	3,000
2C IMC Delivery	                                             30/100	5,000
2D Campaign Outcomes Evaluation	                             10/100	1,000

(2A) Campaign Objectives and Scope

Based on the identified opportunity and marketing recommendation outlined in the proposal, you will need to define and develop the IMC campaign that will support your marketing objectives. This will include setting clear quantified IMC project objectivesand exploring the scope and brand positioning (both current and desired).

The role that IMC plays in enhancing the company/brand’s promotional strategy is identified and fully explored.

It must consider relevant branding issues and how the campaign will change the brand and what consequences that will have on the target market, the brand, other related brands and the IMC campaign.

In this section you must include a detailed quantification of the target market, analysis of consumer behaviour by target market, exploration of potential motivational insights – including the decision making process - using appropriate methodology & frameworks.

Support notes for this section: ------------------------------------------

Campaign Objectives and Scope

The Role of IMC in Marketing Management

The IMC campaign objectives & scope embarks on an attempt to answer the question: “How might we get there?” I.e., meet the project objective(s).

In the first place, you need to display your knowledge of integrated marketing communications and its growing role in the marketing management process and why this is so. You will need to relate your understanding of IMC to your own chosen company/brand, discussing the extent to which it seems to have adopted IMC. Appropriate academic sources should be quoted.

If your proposal requires contribution from marketing activity other than IMC then you need to address and quantify the role of IMC within the Marketing mix. For example the launch of a retail chain into UK will require marketing activity such as location, in store development, product selection, etc. How will this fit in with marketing communication?

IMC Performance Objectives

From the marketing objectives, you must define the purpose of the IMC campaign, addressing the question: “What you are seeking to change about the brand’s position and image; the degree of change that is being sought and the timescale over which this change is to be achieved?”

You need to consider the implications of changing position and the consequence of current positioning / target market and other products in the portfolio which might be affected. It is normal to think in terms of one year for your IMC, starting sometime after your submission date. In some cases, a longer time horizon is required and should be specified and justified.

Target Market and Consumer Profiles

It is essential to quantify and profile this as precisely as possible, otherwise your campaign will lack the necessary focus.

There are many sources of data, which have been covered during the course - National Statistics being the key one from which all others derive, such as ACORN, MOSAIC. The information and data that you gather in this part should be geared to an assessment of the target market’s underlying motivational and behavioural psychology – the purchasing decision making process- using frameworks such as AIDA, Means End Chain. These insights should be balanced against the category product area/brand claims, via the positioning process. The use of profiles of typical consumers in the target market should be provided. Differences should be clearly identified between existing and new target markets. The question to be addressed is “Who are our customers, how, when and why do they buy?

Branding Issues

Branding issues should be addressed in full with consideration of brand architecture (e.g. corporate ownership, brand extensions) The image of the brand, its strengths, performance, promise, claims and value should be analysed, using one of the appropriate frameworks – brand aura, brand pyramid, brand wheel.

Discussion relating to the degree of change in branding/positioning needs to be presented, along with desired change in positioning– although there may be no such change necessary, of course.

How successfully is the brand communicated to the target market now? The key question to be answered is: “ What does our brand mean in the market-place and does it need to be changed/ improved” – if so, how?”

If your positioning and brand has changed you may lose some customers in order to gain new ones. You must evaluate these consequences.

(2B) Communications and Campaign Strategy- Specific Proposal

Based on the above, the message to be communicated needs to be devised and each available communication tool should be explored for its suitability to the delivery of the chosen communication strategy. This will require an appreciation of the role of each of the tools in IMC, in general, and specifically to the chosen topic, providing reasons for the acceptance and rejection of the tools. You do not need to include every IMC tool; you need to select those that are appropriate to the situation. However consideration should be given to the comprehensive range of tools; thus if you make a decision to not use a tool you should provide a brief rationale for exclusion, rather than simply ignore it. You should also select tools that enable you to demonstrate mechanisms of integration.

Discussion should be provided on: -

  • The quality of vertical integration throughout the project for the objectives and strategy at corporate, brand, and IMC level
  • The quality of horizontal synergy in the message delivery programme between the selected media.
  • The relationship between the push and pull strategy

Support notes for this section: -----------------------------------------

The Communications and Campaign Strategy – Specific Proposal

Message Development

On the basis of the earlier analysis, you should now be in a position to devise a Central Organising Idea (COI) or appropriate message “strap line” for your campaign that will serve as the basis for the communication process. This is not just for the advertising but will hold together the whole campaign and resonate with the brand strategy. It should answer the question: “What are we saying?”

The strategy needs to take account of the various stakeholders; to give their agendas the appropriate attention. These will include employees. The micro needs analysis refers to internal marketing and the availability of internal resources that will be needed to implement the campaign.

You will then need to devise the appropriate strategy to communicate the message effectively to the target market. This seeks to address the question: “Which channel is best?” You need to explore all of the available communication tools and assess which ones are appropriate and which ones are not, with justification provided in each case. You will need to consider both the existing channels used and those used by competitors as well as any changes in your identified target market.

Push & Pull Strategy

Your campaign strategy will need to evaluate the role of push and pull strategy and the appropriate emphasis of each. For large complex brands you may decide to build a campaign for just one element but you will need to briefly address the needs of the other. The balance between push and pull strategies will vary according to your brand and market place and will be unique to your IMC.

Push

The analysis should relate to the extent to which the company/brand is established in its routes to market. If your brand/product is in a market entry situation, which are the routes to market and how does the brand obtain access to these routes and with what degree of difficulty. If the brand is already well established, are there any special measures that need to taken to enhance the point of sale situation? Consideration should be given to the appropriate IMC tools for this strategy

Pull

You will need to consider the role of pull; increasing consumer demand and identifying key tools for this strategy, usually advertising, PR, DIM etc.

Both Push and Pull are discussed in Contemporary Issues for IMC module

Integration Strategy

Your project needs to demonstrate how you will optimise the vertical and horizontal strategy for the IMC plan.

Vertical Integration

Vertical Integration is best illustrated as the interpretation of a corporate mission down through the organisation via the SBUs, to the operating departments, their teams, products and brands. The SBUs and departments take responsibility for their share of the delegated mission as sub-task/s.

The teams and individuals accepting the sub-tasks and breaking them down into mini-task/s. Each new layer becoming the strategy/solution of the layer above. It is the successful completion of the mini-tasks that deliver the mission. The quality of this process is the ‘vertical integration’.

Horizontal Synergy

Horizontal Synergy is a reference to the quality of marketing & marketing communications strategy implementation and integration. It is only created when all the strategic and tactical elements/activities come together across all activities to create a synergistic impact that is greater than the individual components could be reasonably expected to achieve on their own.

Both horizontal and vertical integration are discussed in Contemporary Issues for IMC module.

(2C) IMC Delivery

In this section you need to provide details on the delivery and integration of the chosen communication tools into a single homogeneous solution, distinguishing between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ needs. Clear time lines for both individual delivery by chosen tool and the overall campaign must be defined, along with the costs of deploying the selected media. An overall budget and time line must be provided, along with its justification. The financial implications of the campaign must be estimated. This section will be different for each project as each projects needs to address specific and individual issues and objectives.

In essence the detail of the IMC implementation plan needs to be documented, exploring the cost and time implications.

Support notes for this section: ------------------------------------------

The Campaign Delivery Recommendations

By now, you should have decided upon which communication tools will be used and why. You need to decide on the extent to which each one will be used, in terms of reach, frequency and cost. This needs to be planned and shown in time sequence for the timescale of the campaign. A cohesive and integrated communications strategy should be delivered by a programme that meets all the diverse objectives and needs of stakeholders.

Each IMC project will be very different at this stage, as each need to follow through the strategy planned in part a & b above.

There is no checklist for tools that need to be included – the tools need to be appropriate for the planned strategy.

The Campaign Budget

The resultant budget needs to be related to the financial situation of the organisation/ brand. Is it realistic and robust enough for the recommendation outlined? Are solutions both effective and efficient?

The acid test question is “Can you persuade the Board of Directors to sign off the funds?

Details of the revised performance of the organisation need to be detailed and compared with your estimates of current spend

The Campaign Timelines

A detailed and integrated time line should be presented for all elements of the campaign.

(2D) Campaign Outcomes Evaluation

In this section you need to document the methods that can be used to evaluate the performance of the campaign, so as to provide a basis to address the questions: “How well did the campaign do?” How much return did it make for the company?” and “How might we do it better in future?’

This needs to reflect all your activity and include realistic time and budget allocations.

Support notes for this section: ------------------------------------------

Campaign Performance Evaluation

You are required to detail the quality of your own campaign and how you will capture the data that will measure actual performance. This section must identify those key performance indicators that will determine the success or failure of your campaign and how the outcomes will be measured e.g., awareness, channel penetration, trial and first purchase and how the data will be captured and analysed. This section should also address issues of vertical integration and horizontal synergy that should be evidenced in the strategy and implementation sections.

Presentation of the Proposal and Project

Submission Procedure

Proposal

For the proposal you are required to submit digitally onto blackboard by the deadline and email it directly to your supervisor

At the second stage the final project should incorporate the proposal section as the initial/introductory chapter, which explains and justifies the rest of the project.

You are able to make amendments to your original proposal in the final project submission (which might be necessary to ensure it ‘makes sense’ with the rest of the project discussion) but this will not be re-evaluated or remarked.

Project

For the final project you are required to submit two hard copies into registry and to submit digitally onto blackboard by the deadline.

The final project should incorporate the proposal as the initial/introductory chapter.

Presentation

These submissions should be double line spaced, printed one-side only, and bound between good quality covers with your name, student number, degree course, module title, date and year clearly identified in the CA1 form.

All component parts must be handed in, by the deadline, to the coursework lobby and digitally through blackboard

Location of the coursework lobby:

WBS Registry 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS.

If you are posting hard copy submissions you will need to ensure they arrive on time. If you are using a courier ensure you are able to track the delivery of the submission.

Any resubmissions also need to be delivered through the Coursework Lobby/blackboard.

Other Details and Requirements

  • You will be allocated an appropriate supervisor who will support you throughout the process of your IMC project.
  • The proposal will be marked by your supervisor and returned with comments / feedback for your consideration.
  • The final project should be the comprehensive IMC Campaign Plan plus an Executive summary, an appendices, a full bibliography, a full list of references using Harvard system of referencing.
  • Include a word count at the end of the contents page. This word count should exclude the executive summary, the appendices, references and bibliography and any tables in the text.
  • Any included tables, diagrams; charts etc. that are excluded from the word count should have commentary, summary or analysis in the main text that is included in the word count.
  • Emphasis will be placed on the quality of the analysis and decision-making throughout. The quality of the vertical integration from one stage of the process to the next and the potential for synergy across the communications solution.
  • The overall presentation of the document will be considered important.

Please ensure that all pages, tables, figures and graphs are numbered sequentially and have titles.

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