Integrated marketing communications ensure that all your brand or product's promotional tools are working seamlessly together. Here's how IMC works.
Organizations now rely on integrated marketing communications (IMC) to coordinate their marketing efforts. But that wasn’t always the case.
In the 1990s, mass communications — relaying information via television, radio, and other media — dominated marketing. However, it made marketing a one-way feed. Brands shared their offering and value proposition with minimal regard for consumers’ needs and tastes.
Integrated marketing communication is an approach that put together different marketing communication channels into a single working unit. These include advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media. That way, advertisers can maintain consistency across all channels and focus on customers’ needs.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies described IMC as an approach to achieving a marketing campaign’s objectives. It entails using various promotional methods designed to reinforce each other.
In the end, consumers would enjoy a unified and seamless brand experience across all channels.
Before The Martian movie, films about Mars had historically suffered negative box office results.
For example, Disney’s John Carter is considered one of the biggest movie flops of all time. Similarly, the animated movie Mars Needs Moms reported a $39.2 million box office earnings on a $150 million budget.
The prologue campaign for The Martian decided to overturn potential box office woes through an integrated marketing strategy.
The campaign’s goal was to bring the movie to life. And that entails re-igniting the excitement of the Cold War-era space race.
To achieve this goal, the marketers had to partner with various organizations on a multi-platform narrative. These include NASA, Microsoft, Under Armour, National Geographic, and GoPro.
Besides traditional methods, the marketing effort also incorporated social media channels and celebrity endorsements to maintain anticipation.
Not only did these videos surpass 20 million views online, but the campaign ended up winning numerous awards. Furthermore, The Martian opened No. 1 at the box office in the United States.
There are several other examples of successful integrated marketing campaigns besides The Martian. These include Always‘ #LikeAGirl, Southwest Airline’s Transferency, and Domino’s AnyWare, to name a few.
To understand what these campaigns have in common, we must consider an essential question.
A successful integrated marketing communications strategy consists of five essential components. These include:
The success of any marketing campaign relies entirely on the customer. As such, it’s essential for marketers to consider their customers’ needs when creating strategies for brand promotion. And IMC does just that.
Like other marketing strategies, an integrated marketing approach shows a specific brand’s benefits and features to target customers. However, it does it in a manner that prompts an immediate purchase of a product or service.
Customer feedback is essential to the success of integrated marketing. So, consider monitoring it diligently.
As said earlier, integrated marketing involves using several marketing strategies to achieve a single goal. As such, its success depends on various departments working together.
For instance, departments such as marketing, sales, and customer service must shift from segregated to integrate. While the effort could be challenging at first, it’s often worth it.
Interdepartmental cooperation can improve everything from morale to profitability.
Most organizations keep multiple databases with valuable insights and extraneous information. While digging through the raw data to uncover an actionable piece of information can be tedious, it’s usually rewarding.
Creating one-stop storage for all the required data is a bit challenging. That’s because multiple individuals, departments, and channels have specific needs. Besides, a mega-database requires extensive resources.
That’s why database communication is essential. With this, various departments within an organization can quickly share the information required to succeed in an integrated marketing campaign.
Integrated marketing communication entails using various channels with unique strengths and weaknesses. So, its effectiveness depends on leveraging the strength of one to offset the fault of another.
As you may have guessed, the leveraging process begins with an in-depth understanding of each marketing channel. These include how your target audience interacts with the track, as well as the associated costs.
With this information, you can provide the marketing service to help maximize your return on investment.
Finally, an IMC strategy should generate additional revenue for the organization. In The Martian case, the movie went on to earn over 600 million worldwide, seven Academy Awards nominations, and two Golden Globes.
This brings us to the final question:
There are eight primary integrated marketing communication tools. These include advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, direct marketing. Other tools include:
Here’s what you should know about the IMC tools.
Advertising employs openly sponsored, non-personal messages to promote or sell an idea, product, or service. It involves the use of media such as newspaper, television, satellite, or webpage.
The United States is the largest advertising market in the world. According to Statista, the country spent more than $190 billion on advertising in 2016 alone.
Although advertising is the most expensive form of promotion, it’s also one of the most effective. That’s because consumers tend to believe that a heavily advertised brand must offer good value.
Sales promotion aims to increase sales by giving away incentives that could attract customers. It could either include consumer promotion or trade promotion.
The former focuses on consumers’ incentives — coupons, distribution of free samples, discounts, and premiums. Trade promotion, on the other hand, focuses on retailers. It includes volume discounts, display, and merchandising allowances, among other things.
Personal selling involves face-to-face interaction with one or more buyers to promote a product. This IMC tool usually begins with presenting a product or service and ends with taking orders.
Personal selling may be the most effective tool in integrated marketing communication. That’s because the salesperson speaks directly with customers and resolve issues on the spot.
Marketers can also improvise their pitch to suit the buyer’s needs. In the end, the brand would succeed in building a long-term relationship with end-users.
Direct marketing involves talking to potential buyers via telephone, fax, text messages, brochure, catalog, promotional letters, or email.
Companies usually build a database of contact details beforehand to send catalogs and other marketing materials. That way, consumers can quickly make online purchases using their credit cards.
Direct marketing has become even more relevant in recent years.
In fact, 59 percent of U.S. respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products. Similarly, 60 percent of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them the catalog.
As the name implies, mobile marketing entails communicating with consumers via their mobile devices. Whether it’s a simple text message or ads in mobile applications, this IMC tool is popular among advertisers.
That’s why 71 percent of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. Sixty-eight percent of companies also integrated it into their overall marketing strategy in 2018.
Unlike traditional marketing, mobile marketing is cheaper for both consumers and marketers.
Social media marketing describes the process of promoting a business or website using various social media channels. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, to name a few.
Social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools for integrated marketing communication. Not only is it affordable, but it also provides a quick way for marketers to target numerous users at once.
That’s why marketers are spending more on social media advertising. Indeed, social media ad spend accounted for more than $89 billion ads spend last year.
Public relation (PR) is the practice of managing the relationship between an organization and the public.
Unlike advertising, public relation is a two-way communication. It means advertisers can monitor feedback and adjust the message for maximum impact on consumers.
Advertisers using PR can offer promotions via press releases, event sponsorships, and public appearances.
Sponsorship is a blend of sales promotion and public relations. Along with creating brand loyalty, it helps differentiate a specific product from its competitors.
It usually entails supporting an event, activity, organization, or a person financially. Sponsorship could also involve providing products or services to a specific group for free.
Today, marketers assail consumers with a vast number of advertisements via online and offline communication channels. As a result, messages that are relevant to consumers’ needs run the risk of being ignored.
It provides a way for marketers to communicate a brand’s story across various channels clearly and effectively. Besides, IMC is more cost-effective than traditional mass media.
Integrated marketing communications also create a competitive advantage for companies looking to boost sales. This is especially true for SMEs with limited marketing resources.
When used effectively, IMC can create a seamless brand experience that can spur customers’ loyalty.