Most probably you are reading this post because you are searching for Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)…
Or maybe you want to start using IMC as normal marketing is not working for your company.
Read on, as I’ll show you how IMC started, and how the big brands are relying on it to make more profits…
But first, what is integrated marketing?
Integrated Marketing is basically an approach to unify all communication channels in any company.
In this way, the company will offer a much more consistent and pleasant brand experience for the client.
Integrated marketing represents a great opportunity for companies to do branding, reinforcing in the communication channels, the message they really want to convey.
Integration, not repetition
Integrated marketing does not mean to run the same ad on all channels.
Repetition reduces ROI and increases the risks of repelling prospected customers.
Rather, integrated marketing is all about delivering the message in a pleasant way, so that it helps the brand to be easily recognized by the customer.
For integrated marketing to work, we must use interrelated messages, short and seductive, plus a planning of objectives and specific calls to actions.
Unified message, different media, one end goal
Once this is achieved, the message can then be broadcast in chosen media channels.
The message must work in harmony, by ensuring that consumers can understand it.
Focus groups, trial runs on social media, and asking for feedback from those seeing a test run of the integrated marketing messages are simple ways of making sure that the public is getting the message, the way the integrated marketing strategy planned to.
Now, what’s better than…
…learning from the integrated marketing strategies implemented by the top big brands?
Integrated Marketing Example 1 – COCA COLA, “TASTE THE FEELING”
Let’s get started with this brand, which has always shown that it goes further and seeks new ways to connect with their clients.
For that reason, in Jan 2016 they changed the well-known slogan of “Uncover the happiness” to “Taste the feeling“, which encompasses a concept that is much more focused on the product but taking into account the insights of the consumers. (#tastethefeeling)
It is a change in the global strategy of the brand, which has been disseminated by most of the communication channels, and that internally, seeks to extend the value and magic of the Coca-Cola brand out to all their variants with the aim to have a “unique brand “.
The announcement of “Taste the feeling” captures the experiences of life and conveys the idea that the simple fact of enjoying a Coca-Cola, makes your everyday moments even more special.
This message features an original song, “Taste the Feeling” reinterpreted by Conrad Sewell, with what undoubtedly, the brand reinforces the commitment of the company worldwide to promote options to the different lifestyles of each of the consumers.
The message was unified, yet not in a rigid way.
In different countries around the world, Coca Cola used the same theme for advertising, with different singers.
All ads used the same shooting style, same colors, same spirit.
Anywhere in the world, when you see any of Coca Cola’s ads, you will notice the slogan right away.
Not only that, but all sorts of Coca Cola’s advertisements carried the same theme, for years.
This is the right way to implement integrated marketing.
Read also: Top Handpicked Slogans for Service Providers
Integrated Marketing Example 2 – DOVE, ‘Choose Your Beauty’
And we have Dove, a brand that conceived an integrated marketing campaign, which reached the hearts of all.
Through a video, they launched the “Choose Your Beauty” campaign.
The campaign encouraged women to reflect and reconsider the concept of beauty they had and with which they ‘evaluated’ themselves.
This campaign consisted of placing posters that said “Beautiful” and “Average” at the doors of stores or shopping centers.
The women had to decide from which door to enter.
With this short video, the brand managed to put on everyone’s mouth, through social networks, the importance of women’s self-esteem, while inviting them to live a different experience if they consumed the product.
Here, Dove sticks to its main brand message: building upon natural beauty, using natural products. It also reaffirms Dove’s slogan: you are beautiful.
What do we learn from that?
Integrated marketing has different ways for applying it.
To achieve this, we must clarify that the coherence of integrated marketing leads to efficiency.
If you want to build a successful brand, the message you want to advertise should be adapted to the situation and needs of each moment.
For example, at Christmas, many brands want to convey a family and Christmas message, but as soon as this season ends, it is necessary to change the message and look for new concepts.
Understanding the environment is the basis of integrated marketing strategies.
It is vital to visualize who are the customers, their surroundings, what they like and what they do not.
For companies to be more productive, each department must know at least the basic principles of marketing, as this will help to better connect with the client.
Main objective of integrated marketing
To ensure that all promotion strategies complement each other, anytime, anywhere.
Each promotional campaign must pursue a specific objective, and this must be apparent in each of the actions taken to achieve that.
Each promotional channel must aim for the same objective…
…which is to keep the customer satisfied and make the company grow and consolidate over time.
Read also: The 1-Page Marketing Plan Book Summary
But how to reach customers efficiently? And how to identify their needs and wants?
Importance of integrated marketing communications
Successful companies are those with the right answers to those marketing questions (and others).
Those companies found out that advertising is a very expensive solution because it can go wrong easily.
On the other hand…
Relying too much on advertising to move goods, create brands, and meet sales targets is not without its risks, challenges, and drawbacks.
A critical piece was missing in their marketing mix. Marketing alone wasn’t a guarantee of success.
Enter Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
The term Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) was born in 1989.
The American Association of Advertising Associations (4 A’ s) defines IMC as: “An approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign. Through a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods designed to reinforce each other.”
In 1993, Don Schultz published the first book devoted to IMC, entitled: Integrated Marketing Communications (Book link). There, Schultz described IMC as a totally new way of looking at the whole of marketing communications, rather than looking at each of the parts separately.
This innovative approach aimed to unify all communication channels.
When a company deliberately coordinates and integrates messages from a variety of sources about its products or brands, it is practicing integrated marketing communications, or IMC. -Contemporary Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications, 2011
Integrated marketing communications is achieved when each element of the communications mix reinforces the others for greater effect. When communication becomes the driving, integrating force in the marketing mix and throughout the organization.
The purpose of integrated marketing communications
Simply, to build long term relationships, and not to t focus only on a sale.
Brands focus less on making a sale, and more on building relationships with their customers and other stakeholders.
This greatly and deeply affects brand messages and gives way to relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is all about creating, maintaining, and enhancing long-term relationships with customers and other stakeholders (employees, investors, media, etc.).
Companies that commit to relationship marketing are generally trying to accomplish three things:
- Identify, satisfy, retain, and maximize the value of profitable customers;
- Manage the contacts between the customer and the company to ensure their effectiveness; and
- Develop a full view of the customer by acquiring useful data.
Great marketing will not win back a customer lost from shoddy products or poor service.
So basically, IMC allows companies to adopt a consumer-centric (and not a marketer-centric) perspective in creating brand messages.
By using IMC, companies can initiate, develop, and nurture long-term relationships with customers.
This leads to retaining more customers and increasing their loyalty…
… and this is by far one of the most important benefits of integrated marketing communications.
Benefits of integrated marketing communications
In his book “Marketing Management“, Kotler points out that customer retention is enormously profitable. This is because acquiring new customer is almost five times as expensive as retaining old ones.
Repeat customers keep a company profitable even in tough economic times.
A company that makes a small increase in customer retention may reap big profits in return.
Then in his book “Principles of Marketing“, Kotler builds upon this fact, saying that long-term customers are less sensitive to the marketing efforts of other competitors.
A small increase in customer retention may lead to big profits in return.
For that reason, a company’s first market should always be its current customers. Marketers should focus more on increasing retention and optimizing lifetime customer value.
IMC messages / brand messages / advertising may appear in many forms of marketing communications like: commercials, websites, product placements in TV shows, coupons, sales letters, event sponsorships, telemarketing calls, emails, newsletters. etc.
For advertising to work best, it must be thoroughly integrated into the marketing communications efforts of a business.
Advertising is truth well told. – McCann Worldgroup, ad agency for MasterCard
Customers automatically integrate all the brand-related messages that they encounter. The way they integrate those messages determines their perception of the company.
Customers automatically develop perceptions of the company or brand through a variety of sources…
…websites, blogs, news reports, gossip, experts’ opinions, word of mouth, financial reports, and even the CEO’s personality.
IMC gives companies a better opportunity to manage or influence those perceptions and create a superior relationship with those stakeholders. The simple fact is: everything we do (and don’t do) sends a message.
The 3 types of Brand Messages
1 – Product Messages:
The product, price, packaging, color, design, layout, distribution, etc.
2 – Service Messages:
Employee interactions send messages to customers.
3 – Planned Messages:
Advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, merchandising materials, publicity releases, event sponsorships, etc.
Brand messages are successful (or not) based on the feedback received from consumers (recipients of marketing communications).
Feedback can take many forms: redeemed coupons, website visits, phone calls, visits to a store, Facebook likes, comments, followers, shares, tweets, increased sales, responses to a survey, or email inquiries.