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The following article was written by Coleman Patterson and appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.

Integrated Marketing Plans, May 6, 2007, 2D.

At one time or another, everyone has probably had to scrounge through his or her refrigerator and pantry for food.  When food at home is scarce, meals usually end up being a disjointed assortment of random foods.  Frozen waffles, soup, cereal, apples, and macaroni and cheese might be combined to make a meal.  What makes those types of meals strange is not the individual components, rather, it is their combination.   The combination of foods comes from the items that are available when needed and not as the result of conscious and purposeful planning.  

A well-balanced and nutritious meal is one that includes items from a variety of food groups.   Meats, grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables should all be represented in a healthy meal.  The servings of foods from the different groups should be properly proportioned so that one category does not dominate or overwhelm the diet.  Likewise, the amounts of food served to people should be appropriate to their sizes, appetites, diets, and ages.  A small child requires and should receive less food than a grown adult. 

Supplying the body with healthy food requires effort, planning, and discipline.  Healthy eating is an on-going process rather than a one-time activity.  As we age, the types of foods that the body requires changes.  The foods that were required when we were young are not necessarily the best foods for us when we get old.  People must know their bodies and continuously work to ensure that they are supplying themselves with the best food possible.

The concepts of preparing and consuming healthy meals are very similar to developing and executing well-balanced marketing plans for organizations.   Marketing involves the business functions related to creating profitable exchanges with others.  Developing products and services, setting prices, determining distribution channels and outlets, and promoting and selling the offerings to customers are the heart of marketing.  Healthy firms devote considerable time and energy into ensuring that all of their marketing efforts are active, balanced, and contribute to the success of the firm.

When many people think about marketing, they primarily think of the promotion and personal selling aspects of marketing.  Letting potential customers know that your company exists and telling them what you have to offer (and at what prices and locations) is important to creating profitable exchanges with others.   Promotional and sales efforts include such things as print and broadcast media, personal selling and network marketing, advertising and publicity, and web and interactive media.  A balance of these marketing elements is also needed to build a healthy marketing campaign.

Coordinating and executing planned marketing efforts across an entire firm is known as Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC).  Like a well-balanced meal, the IMC elements need to be combined to maximize its effectiveness.  Relying on only one element might not be the healthiest alternative for a firm.  The resources invested in various marketing elements should be made in relation to the age, size, and goals of the firm.  The IMC process must be planned and it should be evaluated and corrected continuously. 

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2006, 2007, 2008  Coleman Patterson, All Rights Reserved