Integrated marketing is a powerful and cost effective way to engage your audience and can make the most of your marketing communications and amplify your brand.
Business owners and marketers have more choice than ever for ways to promote and advertise their products and services. Today we are immersed in a fast paced, technology-enabled business environment where communication channels have changed significantly. There is more ‘noise’ than ever, which means it can be incredibly hard to get your message to reach your target audience and inspire them to act upon it.
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) has many benefits for your business, from helping to create a unified and cohesive identity for your brand, to increasing consumer trust and loyalty. Integrating your marketing also has the advantage of being far more efficient, reducing the cost of each campaign whilst amplifying effectiveness.
There is no one perfect-way to create a successful integrated marketing communication campaign, but in this post we share a few key points that will help you to make the most of your marketing communications.
This post will help you:
- Understand IMC and why it is so important for your business
- Take the first steps towards maximising campaign effectiveness using IMC
So, what is ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’ exactly?
Marketing and consumer behaviour has been studied extensively. As firms become more and more competitive they use strategic planning and research-proven marketing tactics such as IMC to influence consumers’ opinions of their brand, whilst encouraging them to buy their products and services.
The integrated marketing communications concept was first introduced in the late 1980’s and focused on combining traditional media advertising, PR, promotions and events to achieve maximum communication impact (Schultz, 1993). With the emergence and rapid growth of online channels and digital technology since then, the need for an integrated approach to marketing is now stronger than ever.
Philip Kotler, world renowned marketing consultant and professor defines IMC as:
‘the concept under which a company carefully integrates its many communication channels to deliver a clear and consistent message about the organisation and its product’.(Kotler, 1999)
Okay, so admittedly that may all seem a little heavy. On a more basic level, IMC is all about planning and co-ordination. A strategic approach to marketing communication takes out the guesswork, and makes it far more efficient AND effective simple!
Why is it so important and what are the benefits for your business?
Increases Brand Awareness
You can’t expect to throw random, inconsistent and uncoordinated messages out to your audience with no objectives in mind, hoping it’ll do your business and brand some good.
‘It can take more than five impressions for an individual to recognise a brand or specific marketing message’ (Justin Honaman Teradata)
You need to make each impression count by making it easy for consumers to recognise your business and brand in an instant. This is where being clear on your brand’s visual identity, personality and tone of voice is key. You need to ensure that all your communications reflect your brand’s core values. By ensuring consistency, your audience will better able to understand your message and will get to know what you are all about.
IMC is particularly useful for smaller firms who may have a limited marketing budget. Integration allows you to re-purpose elements of design and copy, whilst a clear plan reduces the time resources required to create and deliver a campaign. Combining traditional and digital media gives you the ability to track campaigns more effectively and therefore measure ROI. You’ll begin to learn what works and what doesn’t and tailor your approach in future campaigns.
Increases trust in your brand
Immersing your audience in clear and consistent communications experience throughout the process helps consumers to establish a trusted relationship with your brand; a seamless experience across all touchpoints will encourage them to become loyal, lifelong customers.
Taking an integrated approach helps to move both existing and potential customers through the various stages of the buying process. When your brand’s communication is consistent and aligned with your core objective and values, your prospects will keep you top-of-mind when making purchase decisions in the future.
Are your marketing communications integrated?
Take a few minutes to review your business’ marketing efforts. Use the following questions to help guide your evaluation:
- Are they instantly recognisable as being from your business?
- Do they communicate your brand’s values and identity consistently across different media channels?
- Are your communications working in synergy toward the same clearly defined goals or business objectives?
If you answer no to any of these questions, this might be an indication that your marketing communications aren’t aligned and your business might benefit from a more strategic approach using IMC.
3 Simple Steps to Get Started with IMC:
The best place to start with developing an IMC plan is to get clear on who you are trying to communicate with. Even some simple analysis to identify your target customers and which are the best channels to reach them is incredibly valuable to your business. Many business owner/managers make the mistake of following the crowd or the latest trend in social media, but your target audience may not be using those channels – meaning your effort and investment will be wasted.
The second key element in IMC planning, is to clearly define your brand identity. Your brand identity must relate to your target audience and appeal to their emotional needs. Refer back to the customer analysis you’ve carried out, and create a unique identity and voice for your brand that your customers will want to connect with.
Set Campaign Objectives
Now it is time to drill down and get completely clear on the goals, aims and objectives of your marketing campaigns. These may be short tome goals, like growing an e-mail list, or longer term objectives like increasing brand loyalty. Don’t just focus on driving sales in the short term, other things are equally valuable to your business in the long run, such as trust, reputation, loyalty, and perceived value.
IMC may seem complicated and a little intimidating, but in reality it doesn’t need to be. Put in a little bit of groundwork by following the three steps above, and your business will benefit from a stronger, clearer and more cohesive communications strategy. As you progress, future campaigns will become easier and provide you with insights to help you refine your approach and build lasting relationships with your customers.