The American Marketing Association defines Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time”. In other words, so as to be understood by every reader, it means integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony. Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) appeared for the first time at the end of the 20th century as a consequence of practitioner activities during the last decade.
“Consistency is key in making sure that consumers understand your marketing message which leads to a great result and return on your investment. The Integrated marketing helps by optimizing the spend whether online or offline and putting the right number of dollars towards the most effective approach”(L. Lake, n.d.)
The contributor Steve Olenski refleted in one of his posts for the company Forbes (2014) the results obtained from Econsultancy and the Oracle Marketing Cloud, from a survey of about 1,000 digital marketers and ecommerce professionals.
It drew Olenski’s attention a sentence: “Integration is a priority for many, but challenges remain”. The results obtained were the following:
“There is a very large gap between the percentage of companies saying they prioritise the cross-channel integration of marketing activities (67%) and those that understand their customers’ journeys and adapt the channel mix accordingly (43%). Furthermore, only 30% are facilitating integrated marketing using cross-functional teams, providing further evidence that many companies are not ‘walking the walk’.” (Econsultancy, Oracle Marketing Cloud, 2004)
According to Allen Stafford, owner of the Marketing Communications Blog (2012), the key objectives of IMC are:
- To Create a brand awareness or, in other words, to inform your target audience about your brand.
- To define a fulfilling need for your product or service, or to persuade them to use your product or service.
- Encourage action from your target audience, or, in other words, to remind them through various marketing channels about your product or services.
Inform, persuade and remind are key to remember the objectives.
Regarding to the first objective, which maked emphasis in informing, Stafford points out that the brand must not be a new one, but refers to an existing one trying to penetrate new markets. The brand message canb e directly transmited through different technological tools, such as mail, radio, television advertising, environmental advertising or online video and social media.
Apart from the principal plan, IMC needs to have a more profound Marketing Plan, as the following (Stafford):
- To successfully penetrate the Watsonville banking market by generating awareness and brand building preference by 30%
- To stimulate new member accounts by 25% and new financial loans by 15% by offering incentives that offer brand switching
- To gain a 7% share of the Watsonville home and auto loan lending business by the end of one year.
- To establish WFCU as the new and preferred financial institution by 8% of eligible Watsonville residents
- To introduce our HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) loans to qualified Watsonville homeowner residents by 10% using loan bundling packages for first time lenders.
Secondly, regarding to the second objective, which makes emphasis in persuading, Stafford says that “in the marketing communications strategy part of your Marcomm plan, you will outline the creative strategy for positioning your company, product, or service in the target audiences mind in order to convince them to use your product/service”.
There are several methods a company can use to persuade and define a fulfilling need for their product. These are some examples suggested by the expert Stafford:
- Provide a money-back guarantee
- Competitive pricing
- Low interest rates
- Easy qualifying
- Easy return policy
- How the product or service will make life easier for the purchaser
- Bundling services and products at a savings when the competition is not doing it
- A buy one get one free
- Show how the product or service will save the purchaser time
In a third position, it needs to be mentioned the encourage action from your target audience, which makes emphasis in reminding. As Stafford argues, the fact of only advertising vía one communication channel and just for a brief period of time, has a consequence on the drop off in interests and purchases.
Stafford argues: “I know that for small to mid-sized businesses, funds may not be so readily available. However, there are affordable communication channels they can utilize to drive their message and stay in the minds of the target audience”.
Apart from these features, there is a need to mention some of the barriers affecting Content Marketing Communications. According to MMC Learning, these barriers include: Functional Silos; Stifled Creativity; Time Scale Conflicts and a lack of Management know-how.
First of all, functional silos must be taken.Sadly, some organisational structures isolate communications, data, and even managers from each other. Secondly it needs to be mentioned the stifled creativity. “The joy of rampant creativity may be stifled, but the creative challenge may be greater and ultimately more satisfying when operating within a tighter, integrated, creative brief”.
Add different time scales into a creative brief and you’ll see Time Horizons provide one more barrier to IMC. For example, image advertising, designed to nurture the brand over the longer term, may conflict with shorter term advertising or sales promotions designed to boost quarterly sales. However the two objectives can be accommodated within an overall IMC if carefully planned. (MMC Learning, 2015)
Here’s how you can ensure you become integrated and stay integrated – 10 Golden Rules of Integration:
- Get Senior Management Support.
- Integrate at Different Levels of management.
- Ensure the Design Manual or even a Brand Book is used to maintain common visual standards for the use of logos, type faces, colours and so on.
- Focus on a clear marketing communications strategy.
- Start with a Zero Budget. Start from scratch
- Think Customers First. Wrap communications around the customer’s buying process.
- Build Relationships and Brand Values. All communications should help to develop stronger and stronger relationships with customers
- Develop a Good Marketing Information System which defines who needs what information when.
- Share Artwork and Other Media. Consider how, say, advertising imagery can be used in mail shots, exhibition stands, Christmas cards, news releases and web sites.
- Be prepared to change it all. Learn from experience.
These were just a few ways to beat the barriers and enjoy the benefits of integrated marketing communications, suggested by the experts of the Organization MMC Learning.
Marketing School. (2012). Explore the Strategy of Integrated Marketing. 2016, de Marketing School Sitio web: http://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/integrated-marketing.html#link1
American Marketing Association. (2010). Dictionary. 2016, de American Marketing Association Sitio web: https://www.ama.org/resources/Pages/Dictionary.aspx?dLetter=I
Laura Lake. (2014). Integrated Marketing – What is it and Why is it Important?. 2016, de about money Sitio web: http://marketing.about.com/od/marketingplanandstrategy/a/Integrated-Marketing-What-Is-It-And-Why-Is-It-Important.htm
Steve Olenski. (2014). Integrated Marketing Remains The Holy Grail For Marketers And Consumer. 2016, de Forbes Sitio web: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2014/08/04/integrated-marketing-remains-the-holy-grail-for-marketers-and-consumers/#25b4112362007feb6b563620
Allen Stafford. (2012). http://www.marketingcommunicationsblog.com/major-key-objectives-of-marketing-communications-explained/. 2016, de Marketing Communications Blog Sitio web: http://www.marketingcommunicationsblog.com/major-key-objectives-of-marketing-communications-explained/
MMC. (2015). Integrated Marketing Communications. 2016, de MMC Sitio web: http://multimediamarketing.com/mkc/marketingcommunications/