1. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s (MMC) analysis of the corporation’s media coverage and websites was made to assess MMC’s current communications style and messages. Representatives from MMC networks in various countries were also interviewed to determine today’s customer perceptions of MMC’s products. This research found that while MMC customers were happy with the products and services they use, non-users did not buy cars because they did not fully understand depth and breadth of MMC’s products. MMC’s successful marriage between advanced technology and innovative model designs is largely invisible to current and potential customers. MMC research also found that messages were lost or unclear – failing to reach target audience. To improve MMC’s communications strategy and achieve its marketing objectives, it was decided to create an effective marketing communications programme. This paper presents a marketing communications plan which was built for MMC.
2. Marketing Communications objectives and strategy
Objectives: Create widespread public recognition of MMC as an automobile leader. The corporation will effectively communicate with its current and potential buyers to guarantee that they know about the value provided by MMC’s new and improved products. As a result, the awareness of MMC’s products will be increased to 90 percent among the potential customers. Success of these objectives will be measured by conducting systematic research to see how well MMC’s messages have been communicated to target audiences.
Strategy: Develop a strong message platform that clearly, systematically, and effectively communicates features and benefits of MMC’s cars in a way that includes the corporation’s brand style and personality. This strategy will serve as a solid foundation for incorporating MMC’s messages fully into additional marketing strategies.
3. Communication mix ie methods; tools and media
To put MMC’s information directly in front of its target audiences, marketing communications methods and tools will be used. Tools and methods include direct mail, exhibit, online marketing communications, advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and word-of-mouth promotion. These methods and tools implement the objectives and strategies explained. The following methods support the strategy to push clear messages to MMC’s audiences which include medium and upper class people. Each of these elements of marketing communications should be evaluated on the basis of how it helps to communicate the desired message, cost efficiency, and ability to establish and strengthen the desired perception. No one of these methods is superior to the other in the marketing communications process – it is the communications mix which should be considered and implemented.
3.1 Direct mail
MMC will use its brand personality and principles as the platform for many of its direct mail messages. It will use a friendly tone, brief and to the point style, optimistic communications, and will create experiences in which potential buyers feel they are communicating with a trusted friend and adviser in the automobile industry. Through both tone and content of its direct mail, MMC will demonstrate that it is deeply interested in its customers’ concerns, enthusiastic about helping customers meet their expectations of safety and technological innovations, and committed to steady improvements in its cars. Through systematic direct mail, MMC will build up a strong image for the Mitsubishi Motors as a corporation producing safe and leading cars. People will become aware that safety is an integral part of the MMC’s brand.
3.2 Exhibit strategy
Everything in MMC’s exhibit strategy will reflect brand messages and improve the customers’ experience. The following points should be considered: How does the MMC’s principles and style affect the booth demonstration, interior, and feel; the exhibit team; nature of presentations? If there are many cars, how will they be represented in a way that prevents confusion and disorder? The booth will represent both principle and unique style of MMC. If MMC’s principle is driving pleasure and safety, the booth will be a pleasant place to be in and to look at. The exhibit team also will demonstrate safety of the products and how to access the information the customers will need. Because such shows are where face-to-face communication happens with the customers, it will be of great importance to conduct prior training with the company’s staff that will focus on the customer satisfaction and interest.
3.3 Using online marketing communications
It is not just the colours, logos, and images which should relate to the corporation’s image on its site, but every user’s experience needs to echo the MMC’s unique principles and style. Thus, if MMC makes cars which combine technological and commercial innovations, the site needs to be very innovative and creative. Emphasis on safety issues may alter customers’ perceptions of the corporation and its products. Through repetition of safety information will meaningfully change customers’ perception of the brand by leading them to associate MMC with a safety attribute more than they associate it with any other competitive automobile brands on the market.
3.4 Advertising method
In deciding an effective advertising strategy MMC will focus on systematically reaching its current and potential customers with a clear persuasive message. For advertising method to be effective it will establish MMC’s cars preference in the buyers’ mind to persuade them to try it and to buy it. Advertising will be presented in a way which speaks directly to the needs of customers: the case for purchasing Mitsubishi Lancer will be presented as the customer sees it. Effective advertising is based on memorable reasons for trying and purchasing a product, the emphasis is placed on the user benefits (Maddock and Fulton, 1996, p. 23). Therefore, MMC will focus its visual advertising on safety and innovations. Through websites and TV advertising, a strong image for the MMC’s cars as safe and innovative cars will be created. Effect of the safety campaign will be that most potential customers will rate Mitsubishi on a scale of 1 to 10 for safety higher than almost any other automobile on the market. Innovative but easy technology will become a unique benefit, quality not available elsewhere and it therefore will appeal to the potential buyers’ interests. Such advertising will transform customers’ image of MMC’s cars by leading them to associate cars with particular attributes, such as safety, innovations, and creativity and to associate the cars in customers’ minds with these attributes more than they associate it with any other competitive automobile company. It is recommended also to avoid failure of the customers to understand properly what is communicated to them (Reynolds and Olson, 2001, pp. 215-220). Therefore, advertisements should be easy to understand, clear and complete. For this reason, MMC can use famous foreign artist or musician in its advertising to launch a new car. People usually associate themselves and products which they buy with the attributes and lifestyles of people who feature in advertising. This tactic, therefore, will produce positive perceptions of the new product in customers.
3.5 Word-of-mouth promotion
Word-of-mouth promotion, which arises as potential customers transform from being passive observers to active participants in the marketing communications process, can be successfully used by MMC in its communications program. Effective word-of-mouth promotion works best in combination with other tools of marketing communication including advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and so on (Varey, 2002, p. 140). MMC will use scientific conferences to launch and promote a new car to people who are interested in beneficial power of technology in modern life while simultaneously advertising this car in magazines and journals read by the target audience. The integration of the educational element in the marketing communication and the discussions among the target buyers generate significant sensation or word-of-mouth promotion for the product.
3.6 Communicating through public relations
Media coverage of a product which is sufficiently interesting to be reported in news such as the development and introduction of a new car by MMC falls into the realm of publicity. This process takes the form of press releases and press discussions. MMC, as a large well-established corporation on the international market should pay attention to public relations. Even though there is little chance to present persuasive reasons for buying a new car in public media, public relations will play an important educational role in the MMC’s marketing communications process. MMC can place two major articles in automobile or weekly news magazines. In addition, MMC should set up exclusive and comprehensive interview with CEO for major automobile magazines.
3.7 Sales promotion
Sales promotion tactics will be designed by MMC to complement its marketing communications strategies at the stage of sale. The need for this method of promotion is to encourage potential consumers or current users to select MMC’s car from among the innumerable others available on the market and demanding customers’ attention. Sales promotion actually can become a powerful force stimulating people to select MMC’s cars over others, particularly when there is a major car improvement. MMC will make considerable use of coupons to encourage the sale of its cars. More and more coupons with discounts and contests will be introduced.
4. Scheduling and implementation
All of the above methods may be managed in MMC itself or by good specialist companies. Marketing communications tools constitute a complex communications vehicle which must be scheduled and implemented as part of the whole marketing communications strategy (Lancaster and Reynolds, 2001, pp. 119 -130). Therefore, MMC’s marketing communications tools will be most effective when they will be integrated in the overall marketing communications effort of the company. For example, MMC can support its new and improved products by means of advertising in which new features are highlighted. Then, marketing public relations tools can be used for the distribution of coupons, booklets, or the organization of contests can be made. MMC can place promotion offers, such as discounts and contests, on its main website, and advertising strategies can coordinate customers’ attention to the company’s website and the promotion proposals. An effective marketing communications plan will be created in such a way that all marketing communications tools will consistent, used as a mix, and will give added strength to one another.
Importantly, MMC will use one of the most popular models for marketing communications implementation, which is AIDA. According to it, when considering a purchase the customer’s mind goes through four main stages: awareness, interest, desire and action (Crane, 1995, p. 144). Based on this formula, MMC’s implementation process will go through these major stages: the communications strategy will make customers aware that the car exists, what the car is, what the car does, and perhaps also where and when the car is available. At the next stage MMC’s communications tools will stimulate potential buyers to take some interest in the car. Here it will be of great importance to make the customer know the exceptional features of the car, the unique benefits it offers and how it might serve a variety of needs and desires of the customer. While most of people find today the Lancer models very interesting, attractive, and technologically innovative, few of people in reality own one car or plan to buy it. This stage of the MMC’s marketing communications must, therefore, both show potential customers that there is a product available which will satisfy their needs and show them that they can buy this product. This leads to the final stage – action – where MMC’s communications tools will stimulate customers to make actually the effort to seek the product and buy it.
5. Budgets; Evaluation and control
Most MMC’s marketing communications expenditure will be an investment, money spent today to generate future benefits. For this reason, the important consideration about budget will be future return coming from the communications tools. In allocating the promotion budget MMC will spend most of money on visual advertising with a considerable amount on sales promotions and less on public relations. MMC’s focus will be on advertising for the corporation’s newer products aimed at the long-term objective of increasing the number of consumers and their loyalty to the new product. The less priority will be given to already established products, which, however, are also important. MMC will use the bottom-up approach for the promotion budget, which is a logical approach involving decisions on the combination of most effective communications tools, required to achieve specified communications objectives. The total expenditures of these tools will be a recommended communications budget to be reviewed by MMC’s senior department for approval.
Marketing communications campaign will be controlled and evaluated by means of a number of effective measurements and methods. In particular, MMC will use sales data and information from registered payments. In addition, consumer and retail panel data will be taken into account. Moreover, the pre-promotion stage will be analysed and compared with the promotion stage and the post-promotion stage, and gradual changes in sales, growing market penetration, differences at the regional level, will be also taken into account. When a coupon strategy is used, redemption rates will be determined. Importantly, MMC will use consumer surveys in order to test to what extent the buyer remembers, enjoys, and plans to benefit from coupons, extra services, or contests, and to evaluate the effects of the promotion campaign on the MMC’s overall image. In addition, experiments can be built to choose between a number of promotion strategies, by varying the stimuli and motivation meaning, the type of benefits, and the marketing communications tools used to find out which types of promotions are the most effective for the company.
MMC’s constant research of its objectives is of great importance. Assignment of measurable objectives to each component of MMC’s marketing communications process must be made. Those are controls, which will let MMC know whether particular part of the communications strategy is working. The question, which should be asked constantly, is: If MMC is spending marketing communications dollars to promote its car, what are received benefits and is there justification for doing these promotion activities? Finally, if a chosen communications strategy and accompanying tools and methods produce an expected benefit, it also should be measured. MMC can also use one of the many excellent research companies which exist throughout the country. MMC will probably contact two or three of them and consider how they would suggest measuring MMC’s communications strategies and methods.
Crane, Edgar, 1995. Marketing Communications: A Behavioral Approach to Men, Messages, and Media. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Lancaster, Geoff and Reynolds, Paul, 2001. Marketing: The One-Semester Introduction. Butterworth-Heinemann: Boston.
Maddock, Richard C. and Fulton, Richard L., 1996. Marketing to the Mind: Right Brain Strategies for Advertising and Marketing. Quorum Books: Westport, CT.
Reynolds, Thomas and Olson, Jerry C., 2001. Understanding Consumer Decision Making: The Means-End Approach to Marketing and Advertising Strategy. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ.
Varey, Richard J., 2002. Marketing Communication: Principles and Practice. Routledge: London.