As marketers, we always want to put our best foot forward. This means using every marketing channel and format in a way that is balanced and integrated to truly deliver an outstanding customer experience. But what does IMC really mean? And why should it be relevant for us as marketers?
What is Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)?
Simply put, IMC is the art and science of making sure that marketing messages reach consumers in all channels (where they are) through a coordinated set of activities.
IMC has been defined 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.” American Marketing Association
IMC is the most powerful way for marketers to achieve their objectives.
Where Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Concept Comes From?
The history of the IMC has its roots in public relations. Integrated Marketing Communication is not a new concept; it has been around since the 1980s (Schultz and Schultz, p. 19), and has since changed how communicators and marketers interact and do business.
IMC changed how marketers approach their target markets and how they develop strategies to reach those markets. It was an inevitable change, as the marketplace became more competitive. The emergence of new technologies, such as television and radio, created a need for communicators to develop strategies that would reach their target markets.
Integrating all marketing communication efforts into one seamless strategy, IMC, is the best way to reach consumers and increase sales.
Integrated Marketing Communication, More Than Just Advertising and Public Relations
IMC is more than just advertising. It is a holistic way of thinking about how to reach your customers.
IMC is an umbrella term that refers to the coordination, integration and synchronization of all marketing communication elements to achieve a consistent and coordinated brand image, product or service delivery and sales force activity. As the marketplace became more complex and fragmented, marketers realized that they needed to do more than just advertise.
If you really want to make a difference, you have to integrate all your communication channels. And if you want to be successful in the long run, that integration has to extend beyond marketing and into sales and operations.
Why is it important to understand the meaning of ‘communication’ when doing content marketing?
The effort to communicate professionally has become more demanding, not only because of technology, social media trends and the need to communicate with a global audience, but also because ‘communication’ means different things to different audiences.
Further, the way that organizations communicate is also changing. Organizations are increasingly looking to integrate communications into the fabric of their business, and not just as a stand-alone function.
The significant challenge for marketers is how to communicate effectively in the face of these challenges.
No doubt having a clear understanding of what communication means to the organization, and to its audiences, is a good place to start.
The IMC concept is based on the premise that organizations must integrate their communications to be more effective.
What are the benefits of integrated marketing communications? – Increased brand awareness, more loyal customers.
The integrated marketing communication (IMC) approach was developed to overcome the limitations of traditional marketing communications. The idea behind IMC is that a single message delivered through multiple channels can be more effective than a series of messages delivered through the same channels. IMC focuses on delivering a single, consistent message across all communication channels—and doing it in such a way that the entire campaign builds
As marketers, we’re always looking for a competitive advantage. IMC offers one such advantage in that it can provide the framework to deliver a consistent message across channels.
Takeaway: IMC is not just about delivering the same message through different channels. It’s about delivering the same message in a way that builds on itself, reinforcing key messages and calls to action throughout an integrated campaign.
Among other benefits of IMC, is the increasing of brand awareness. This is because IMC allows consumers to see the same message over and over again, in a variety of different ways. Which reinforce brand messaging.
All of these resulting in more loyal customers, and more sales for your company.
What is the objective of integrated marketing communication?
The main objective of integrated marketing communication is to create a positive image for the company or product being promoted. This goal can be achieved by increasing the sales volume, but it can also be attained by creating brand awareness.
This is not a new concept in marketing. The idea of building a positive image for products and brands started with the introduction of trademarks. A trademark is a sign or symbol that helps consumers identify the source of goods and services. It also serves as an indicator of quality, since it is usually associated with well-known brands.
The first trademark was registered in the United States in 1876, by an American pharmacist named Dr. Isaac E. Emerson, who invented a new type of cough syrup. He named it “Coca-Cola” and wrote the word in distinctive script, using his own unique font.
What is the role of PR in an organization?
The role of public relations in an organization is to support the marketing objectives of that organization. Public relations can be used as a tool to help promote and sell products or services, build awareness of the company’s image, and enhance the company’s reputation.
Public relations is a tool that supports marketing objectives. And can be used as a stand-alone IMC element or it may serve in conjunction with other elements, such as social media and search engine optimization.
However, it’s important to note that PR is considered the ‘ethical compass’ of the organisation and serves as the basis for all other IMC elements, making it a kind of unique selling point.
Public Relations (PR) Versus IMC
Public Relations (PR) is a subset of integrated marketing communication. PR’s main objective is to maintain and enhance good public opinion, or reputation, for an individual entity by either providing information on the entity or by controlling the flow of information about that entity.
The to six differences between PR and IMC are:
- IMC includes advertising, whereas PR does not. Advertising has a lot of power because it can reach people on an individual basis. It also reaches the public directly, whereas PR is a more indirect form of communication.
- IMC includes public relations, but not the other way around. The reason for this difference between PR and IMC is that PR is a broader term that encompasses many different tools and techniques.
- IMC uses a variety of communication channels to reach the target audience, whereas PR is limited to one-way communication (i.e., from the organization to the public).
- IMC uses a variety of media, whereas PR is limited to one-way communication (i.e., from the organization to the public).
- 4. IMC is a form of interactive communication, whereas PR is not. Interactions are two-way communications, in which the recipient can respond to the message.
- IMC has the objective of changing behavior, whereas PR does not.” Behavior refers to the actions of individuals, groups and organizations.
Public Relations (PR) is not the same as Press Releases
Press releases are included in Public Relations and are used to inform the public about a company’s new products, services or events. Press releases are also called news releases. They can be written by the company itself or by an external agency.
The purpose of a press release is to get the media’s attention and hopefully, have them publish an article about it. The goal of press releases is to create public relations, which is defined as the process of managing communications between an organization and its publics.
Public relations are important for companies because they can influence their image, reputation and sales.
What are the differences between public relations and strategic communications?
The differences between public relations and strategic communications are the following:
Public relations is a set of activities that help organizations to manage their publics; whereas, strategic communication is broader than public relations, because it also deals with managing communications between an organization and its stakeholders.
Consistency and unification of messages, brand promotion and audience engagement.
is a tendency for organizations today to consider public relations, corporate communications, advertising, marketing, promotions and publicity function collaboratively as part of “the IMC mix.” Meaning that, the various functions have to work together in order to achieve better results.
The IMC mix is about:
IMC strategy should be part of a long-term marketing plan and not developed in isolation.
IMC is not a “one-off” campaign but an integrated process that requires constant evaluation and refinement, based on the organization’s objectives, its target audience, their needs and the marketplace.
Where can I apply IMC?
IMC can be applied to all organizations, regardless of size or industry. This process should be used by any organization wishing to implement a strategic marketing plan and improve its competitive position in the marketplace.
IMC can be used by organizations at all stages of their development: from start-ups to mature and established businesses, as well as public sector and not-for-profit organizations.
🏆Pro Tip: If you are on a budget, choose the most relevant marketing channels and focus on them.
What is integrated marketing communication with example?
We put together 5 examples of integrated marketing communication, so you can see how this concept is used in real life.
IMC Example 1: Coca-Cola
The Coca-Cola Company has been using IMC since its inception. The company’s founder, Asa Candler, used a variety of means to promote his product as a beverage for all classes and ages of people.
IMC Example 2: Apple
Apple is a great example of an organization that uses IMC in its marketing. The company has used several different techniques to promote itself and its products, including television commercials, print ads, product placements, and more.
IMC Example 3: Nike
Nike has also used IMC in its marketing for decades. In the 1980s, the company’s “Just Do It” campaign was a huge success.
IMC Example 4: Starbucks
Starbucks is another company that has used IMC in its marketing for years. The company’s “Wake Up” campaign was very successful, and it was a great example of the company’s use of multiple marketing channels.
IMC Example 5: Red Bull
Red Bull is another organization that has used IMC in its marketing. One of the company’s most successful campaigns featured extreme sports athletes, such as skateboarder Tony Hawk.
IMC Example 6: The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has used IMC in its marketing for many years. One of the most successful campaigns was a campaign that featured an American soldier returning home from war to surprise his family on Christmas Day.
IMC Example 7: The American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society uses IMC in its marketing. One of the most successful campaigns was a campaign that featured actress Betty White, who is known for her work with animals and children.
IMC Example 8: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
The World Wildlife Fund uses IMC in its marketing. One of the most successful campaigns was a campaign that featured celebrities in the entertainment industry.
IMC Example 9: The Red Cross
The Red Cross uses IMC in its marketing. One of the most successful campaigns was a campaign that featured celebrities in the music industry.
IMC Example 10: The U.S. Army
The U.S. Army uses IMC in its marketing, and has created a memorable slogan that is used to recruit new soldiers.
What are the 5 primary integrated marketing communication tools?
The 5 primary IMC tools are advertising, direct marketing, internet marketing, sales promotion and public relations.
1. What is advertising?
In simple words advertising is a fee or paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.
2. What is direct marketing?
Direct marketing is the activity that has been specifically designed to create a direct link between the marketer and the customer.
3. What is internet marketing?
Internet marketing is an umbrella term for all activities involved in promoting products or services over the Internet. It includes e-mail marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and many more.
4. What is sales promotion?
Sales promotion is a non personal presentation of ideas, goods or services by a sponsor to a specific audience in order to increase sales.
5. What is public relations?
We already mentioned this earlier in the text, but simplifying public relations is communicating with a variety of publics through both traditional and new media.
IMC planning – How to plan an Integrated Marketing Communication Strategy
Planning is critical for any campaign, and IMC is no different.
The first step in planning an integrated marketing communication strategy is to identify the target markets you wish to reach. This can be done through a SWOT analysis or by using a market segmentation tool.
Once you have identified your target markets, it is time to develop the actual strategy by identifying the key objectives and strategies of each campaign.
Then you need to determine what media to use, being traditional media or new media.
Next, you need to determine the message should be delivered and who will deliver it. You may also want to consider the timing of your messages in order to maximize the effect of each message.
Finally, it is time to put the action plan together.
You need to monitor the results of each campaign to evaluate the performance of your IMC plan, always comparing them with your goals.
Then, once you have gathered all data and KPIs of your IMC, you will be well prepared to repeat the process. but this time with a more effective plan.
IMC Parts: The elements of an IMC plan include the following:
• Budgeting and resources allocation.
In General, these are the 10 steps to plan a strong Integrated Marketing Communication Strategy:
- Define your target audience (demographics, psychographics, geographic location)
- Identify the key objectives and strategies of each campaign
- Determine what media to use: traditional or new
- Decide on the message you want to communicate
- Determine the best time and place to communicate your message
- Establish a budget for the project
- Develop an action plan (who will do what, when, and how)
- Monitor the results of your communication efforts so that you can make adjustments to future campaigns.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your IMC plan by comparing it to your original goals.
- Repeat the process and refine it based on what you learned in step 8.
IMC provides a framework for marketers to plan, execute and measure their marketing efforts across all channels. By aligning all marketing communications channels, marketers can create a cohesive customer experience and achieve their business goals.
If you need help creating an IMC strategy, our team at Speed Marketing Agency can assist you. We have experience developing and executing IMC plans for a variety of businesses. Contact us today to get started.