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All organizations, be it large, medium or small, commercial, government, charities, educational and a host of other not-for-profit organizations in Nigeria and beyond need to communicate. The needed communication may be in order to get materials and services to undertake their business activities, or to work synergistically with others to make sure their distribution goods and services are successful. Marketing communications provides a major activity so that all interested parties can understand the intentions of others and also appreciate the worth of the goods and services rendered.

Communication is the process of passing information, thoughts in a meaningful way among individuals or organizations. The need and duties of communication within channel of marketing is a vital issue from any point of view. Communication in marketing channel can perform as the process by which weighty information is conveyed. Despite the fact that the Marketing literature acknowledges that communication plays a healthy and strong role in channel functioning, it provides no integrated theory for channel communication. Communication has been connected conceptually to both power and climate issues and structural issues in the channel, yet previous or past research on channel communication is less sufficient. Communication is a major tool used to create network, spread and circulate ideas and promote the ones products or services. Effective communication is done through a well-known channel that sends information in a simplified way and exactly. Marketing communications accommodates all components in a brand‘s marketing mix that encourage exchanges by building shared meanings with the stakeholders of brand.

Small and medium businesses use different and numerous tools and strategies to promote their company, product or services for their business survival, and one of the tools are integrated marketing communication. Tools can be brochures, telemarketing, websites etc while strategies can be values added to products of approach to customers. The chief goal of the marketing communication are to provide needed information to target audience, boost the sales and for business survival.

1.2. Background

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is seen to be an attempt to integrate and combine its promotional mix, which comprises advertising, sales promotion, public relations, personal selling, and event and direct marketing. It is a term that came into existence since late 20th century regarding application of consistent brand messaging across numerous marketing channels.IMC strategy evolved mainly to solve the need for businesses to offer clients more than just standard advertising and to help businesses to survive. IMC suggests that marketers focus at the customer first, focusing on the customer includes focusing on his or her preferences, buying patterns, media exposure, and other factors and then customer is exposed to the products that fits its need through series of communication methods which the customer find more interesting, attractive and credible. Integration has become a major concept in marketing because technological advances have changed how business stakeholders interact.

Every marketing strategy has its own importance and outstanding function which can be assessed from the results and impact of that strategy. Previous research works has pointed that poor management skill, such as human resources, financial and general management, as well as marketing, leads to the poor implementation and performance of SMEs, with regards to profitability. Integrated Marketing communications activities play a vital role in the growth and survival of businesses.

IMC is a core strategic channel in many organizations because sales and profit can be increased while saving the time, money and stress by applying IMC. IMC has positive effect on communications, creativity, innovation and cause consistency in communications. Real contribution of integrated promotional mix can make a strategic tool for business. IMC provides new dynamic model which makes the running of business smooth and effective. It makes easy, 24/7availability and access to goods and services and makes message more productive and also reduces product related risks in the mind of consumers.

Integrated Marketing Communication is a major strategic concept for small and medium scale business survival, and also a major strategy that is as evolutionary and discursive in Nigeria. Thus, a strong need is mandatorily needed here to explore the concept and phenomena of IMC directly in the real world of communication. With the resent change and development in communication practices and technologies, integration in marketing techniques cannot be declined for Nigerian businesses, companies, organizations to survive in this business world emerging globally. Flow of communication is easy with no barrier and our ability to adapt to these changes has made it a very interesting, catchy and promising place for the global market.

1.3. Statement of problem

The poor survival or growth of small businesses in Nigeria has been a concern to all and sundry; this is because the success of small businesses is the success of the economy of the country since the small business enterprises constitute a cardinal pillar for every economy and thus a for an effective growth of the economy, adequate attention has to be given to small businesses in Nigeria. The poor economic development of Nigeria is a direct consequence of the neglect of small businesses thus leading to their poor survival, growth and development. This poor survival of small enterprises has led to an unprecedented increase in unemployed or underemployed youths thus exerting more pressure on the existing jobs in Nigeria which is not good for any developing economy like ours. 

1.4. Objectives of the study

The major aim of the study is to examine integrated marketing communication as a survival strategy for small business survival in Nigeria. The specific objectives of the study are to;

  1. Examine the impact of integrated marketing communication on small business profitability.
  2. Examine the level of marketing communication evident in small scale enterprises in Nigeria.
  3. Determine the relationship between marketing and small business survival in Nigeria.
  4. Determine the relationship between small business survival and economic development in Nigeria
  5. Recommend ways for ensuring small business survival in Nigeria

1.5. Research Questions

  1. Is there an impact of integrated marketing communication on small business profitability?
  2. Is integrated marketing communication an effective strategy for small business survival in Nigeria?
  3. What is the level of marketing communication evident in small scale enterprises in Nigeria?
  4. What is the relationship between marketing and small business survival in Nigeria?
  5. What is the relationship between small business survival and economic development in Nigeria?
  6. What are the ways for ensuring small business survival in Nigeria?

1.6. Statement of the Hypotheses

H0: Integrated marketing communication is not an effective strategy for business survival in Nigeria

H1: Integrated marketing communication is an effective strategy for business survival in Nigeria

H0: There is no significant relationship between small business survival and the economy of Nigeria

H1: There is a significant relationship between small business survival and the economy of Nigeria

H0: There is no significant relationship between marketing and small business survival in Nigeria

H1: There is no significant relationship between marketing and small business survival in Nigeria

1.7. Significance of the study

The study would be of immense importance to small business owners, government at all levels and captains of industries as it would reveal the impact integrated marketing communication has on business survival in Nigeria. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further research on this subject matter.

1.8. Justification of the study

Small and medium business survival is pivotal for economic development of any country. Governments in the past and present have initiated different programmes, schemes and policies to aid the survival of SMEs in the country which ranges from financial aids, easy access to loans and flexible loan repayment plans, leadership and entrepreneurship mentorship programmes but most SMEs have still find it difficult to operate profitably.

With the growing interest in integrated marketing communication (IMC) among marketing scholars and practitioners. There is a realization that IMC is the only unexplored viable strategy for SMEs survival in Nigeria, in which IMC represent a paradigm shift from the era of mass marketing to the era of consumer orientation.

1.9. Scope of the study

The study is restricted to integrated marketing communication as a strategy for business survival with small business in Lagos serving as the case study.

1.10. Definition of terms

Business: A business is an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial or professional activities. A company transacts business activities through the production of a good, offering of a service or retailing of already manufactured products. A business can be a for-profit entity or a nonprofit organization that operates to fulfill a charitable mission.

SME: small and medium scale enterprises

In Nigeria, several attempts have been made to define and classify SMEs and probably due to differences in policy focus, different government agencies apply various definitions. For instance, the Centre for Industrial Research and Development (CIRD) of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife defined Small Scale Enterprise as an enterprise with a working capital base not exceeding N250, 000 and employing on full time basis, 50 workers or less. The Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBC) (now merged with others institutions to become Bank of Industry) adopted a definition of small scale business as one with total capital not exceeding N750, 000 (excluding cost of land but including working capital). The Federal Ministry of industry’s guidelines to NBCL defined a small scale enterprise as one with a total cost not exceeding N500, 000 (excluding cost of land but including working capital). The Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB now part of Bank of Industry) defined small scale enterprise as an enterprise that has investment and working capital not exceeding N750,000, while it defined medium scale businesses as those operating within the range of N750,000 to N3.O million.

For the purpose of this research work, I will adopt the Central Bank of Nigeria definition of small business. In 1979, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in its credit guidelines to commercial banks, stated that small scale enterprises were those with annual turnover not exceeding N500, 000, while the merchant banks were to regard small scale enterprises as those with capital investment not exceeding N2 million (excluding cost of land) or with maximum turnover of not more than N5 million.

IMC: integrated marketing communication

IMC is an approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other. As defined by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, integrated marketing communications … recognizes the value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.

Strategy: A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

Marketing: Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Communication:  The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.

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