What is it?
Integrated marketing communications is also known as IMC. IMC is important all over the world and ensures that all communications a company uses are linked or integrated together. The goal is to integrate all the promotional tools so that they all work cohesively. An example would be a company promoting a new logo strategy through multiple media (print, tv, web, social medias). Each approach will be different for that specific medium, but they are all directing the audience to the same exact message. The saying goes “two is better than one”, the tools work better when they are working all together. Workings alone or in isolation from the other tools does not get the job done as well or at all.
There are levels of integration that can take place beyond the obvious/usual communication tools. There are five in total and they help strengthen integrated communications.
- Horizontal: happens across marketing mix and business functions. This approach to marketing brings together different departments that may be working on the same initiative but in different ways.
- Data: requires a marketing information system, and it collects and shares relevant data to different departments.
- Vertical: the objectives for marketing and communications have to support the higher level corporate objectives and missions. This strategy demands that a product being developed fits in with corporate policy as well as the structure of the company.
- Internal: this requires internal marketing and requires that all the staff involved is kept up and informed as well as motivated about any new projects, partners, and standards. This ensures that employees are happy and excited about new products being developed.
- External: this requires external partners who can work closely together to deliver a solution. The outside agencies are then tasked with designing and developing the most effective strategies for the firm that contracted them. Outsourcing can be beneficial when a firm wants to get a different perspective from experts who are not connected to the firm and are likely more objective.
There are more marketing channels now than ever before and different channels can be lead and directed by different people. Integrated marketing strategies help pull all of a brand's message points together into one cohesive whole to ensure that the message is not disjointed and confusing. In the world of today, customers are constantly overloaded with information and news daily, IMC relay one clear message regardless of what channel is actually being used.
What are the benefits?
IMC can create a solid competitive advantage for businesses around the world. It can also boost sales and profits, and save money, time and stress for companies. Integrated marketing strategies have been proven to be reliable because fusing modern and traditional marketing guarantees that communications incorporate the best of both worlds.
IMC not only benefits companies, but also consumers. IMC wraps communication around customers and helps them move through various stages of the buying process. The company is able to build a bond with its customers this way. This can be considered relationship marketing which is extremely important for customer relationships.
This relationship marketing creates a bond of loyalty with customers, this helps “protects” them from competition. Being able to keep a customer is a huge competitive advantage, especially if they are a customer for life. In order to keep these customers for life, using IMC can create more avenues to help customers become aroused, more aware, and to make a purchase.
What are the barriers?
Yes, IMC has amazing benefits, but not everything is perfect. There are barriers that IMC has to deal with on a regular basis. Some of the restricting barriers include: resistance to change, restrictive creativity, time scale conflicts, communications of problems with a wide variety target market, and lack of management knowledge.
IMC strategy has previously stated, restricts creativity, this means that there isn't anymore “wild” sales promotions unless it fits into the strategy. The creative challenge may be much more satisfying when it is operated within an integrated and creative brief. Time barriers are extremely common. An example of this would be that image advertising is made for long term, this could conflict shorter term advertising promotions or sales designed to boost quarterly sales. If the two are planned carefully, they can be successful but it is not always common.
Old Spice “Smell like a Man, Man campaign”
This is a great example of a well executed marketing communications campaign. The company went viral the day they released this tv ad. They complimented this ad with an incredible social media marketing campaign and smart witty copywriting and visuals to back it up. They were able to define the right audience and messaging.
Integrated marketing is needed to earn profits and remain relevant in the marketplace. Having a clear and consistent message for a campaign means that companies don't have to create more media than they actually need. They would only have to produce materials that are needed and publish it across the companies chosen channels. It is important to remember that integrated marketing communication companions are exactly what the public wants and craves from brands. An IMC is a sure way to increase sales, boost revenues and build brand awareness.