Integrated Marketing Communications: Why Is It Important?

Managing and coordinating the entire communications process calls for integrated marketing communications (IMC). But what is IMC and why is it important?

By definition, integrated marketing communications is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan. Such plan evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact through the seamless integration of individual discrete messages.

Considering that (a) the mass market can be fragmented into a multitude of mini-markets (with each mini-market requiring its own approach), (b) there is continuous proliferation of new types of media, and (c) there is growing sophistication of consumers, it is clear that there is definitely a need for marketers to utilize a wide range of communication tools to efficiently deliver messages to specific audiences. Marketers should therefore combine personal and non-personal communication channels to achieve maximum impact (i.e., employing multiple-vehicle, multiple-stage campaigns). Hence, it is clearly imperative for companies to move toward integrated marketing communications, and the absence of which results in uncoordinated communications and image diffusion.

A comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan can produce stronger message consistency. It can also help to build brand equity as well as create greater sales impact. Furthermore, it can unify the company’s brand images and messages as they come through multiple company activities. In simpler terms, IMC improves the company’s ability to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time in the right place.

Multiple Forms Of Marketing Communication – Helping You Reach Your Widest Target Audience

You’ll have heard the saying ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and when it comes to your marketing communications you really do need to take that on board! Using just one or two types of marketing communication can be a risky business.

But, just to confuse matters a little more (!), using too many different marketing communications can be just as dicey…

So, what direction should you be taking?

Well, in short, you should be focusing on 4 or 5 marvellous marketing communication types to ensure you have all avenues covered. Should you continue to focus on just one you can be sure that you won’t reach the widest audience possible. Also, what would happen if the one and only communication type you are using is no longer flavour of the month?

It goes without saying that your aim, where your business is concerned, is to reach as many people within your target audience as is possible.

No two people are the same – the world would be very boring if we were… So, to be sure that you are reaching all of these different personalities, it’s essential that you include a variety of marketing options to be sure you appeal to the largest chunk of this medley of personalities within your target audience.

As with many things these days, different marketing methods are in and out of fashion at the blink of an eye… If the marketing model you are using goes out of fashion overnight, you have a problem and will need to work quickly to implement something new. The trouble with this is that ‘rash’ decisions aren’t often good decisions. Plus, you’ll have lost valuable marketing time while you sort the issue out.

Also, different people have their likes and dislikes of various forms of communication. Some people love e-mail delivery, but you’ll have some who don’t even use e-mail (imagine that…) or they are so fed up with receiving e-mail in droves that it no longer has the desired effect. Or, they may feel that the e-mail being sent doesn’t focus on relationship building and is too ‘salesy’ from the outset – the opt-out button is hit in one split second… So, it may be that the e-mail phobics would be better suited to direct mail.

Then there are those that don’t own a fax, but do use Facebook. They love social media and Blog reading, so maybe that’s how you should be marketing to them.

So you catch the drift. What one person likes, the next person doesn’t. Your quest is to find out who likes what and the types of communication that people will marvel at!

For example, if you look and note that a proportion of your target market is male, age 18-35 and living in an urban area. It is likely that social media communications would be a better fit than direct mail.

To fulfil your quest, you need to be sure to test and track your marketing. You could even ask for feedback on your marketing methods to help you understand what is liked best and by who.

So, in summary, to be sure that your marketing system is durable and robust:-

– Never focus on just one lonesome type of marketing communication

– Be sure to interface multiple marketing communications

– Track and test what type of communication works best and with who

– Ask for feedback on your marketing communications

Multiple marketing communications are important to ensure that you reach the widest audience possible and to be sure that they get to know about your offering!

Small And Midsized Company Marketing And Marketing Communications – A Lesson From Large Agencies

Over the past few years, rapidly developing technologies have changed the way marketers think about marketing and marketing communications strategies, plans and tactics. However, somewhat quietly but perhaps more importantly, a significant change has occurred with the world’s largest communications agencies – the dramatic growth of consulting companies at the expense of traditional advertising agencies.

Management and accounting consulting companies with new services are now ranking sixth through tenth among the world’s biggest communications companies. The specialized divisions of Accenture Interactive, PwC Digital Services, Deloitte Digital, Cognizant Interactive and IBMix had total global revenue of over $20 billion in 2017, with an eye-popping 32 percent growth in US revenue versus a year ago.

While traditional advertising industry giants WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Interpublic and Dentsu are ranked as the top five, with global revenue of nearly $62 billion, US revenue barely increased at 0.3 percent (Advertising Age).

Why is this change happening and what can small and midsized marketers learn from it?

Consulting Companies Focus On ROI

There are many reasons for the growth of consulting companies – in B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketing and marketing communications areas – but the top reasons are:

  1. Consulting companies already have deep ties, experience and credibility helping organizations improve their profitability, because of a sharp focus on ROI;
  2. Their existing familiarity with digital technologies, along with the financial resources to acquire specialized digital companies for expansion;
  3. Maintaining a data-based strategy with clients and prospects – not creative alone – which means they are focused on understanding customer wants and needs, as well as customer experiences at all pre- and post- customer purchase points;
  4. A focus on marketing and marketing communications effectiveness and not just efficiency, resulting in a very big difference to a brand’s profitability.

In short, a history and vision of focusing on and improving a brand’s profitability and its ROI. Keeping an eye on the bottom line – cost per customer, not just media cpm efficiency.

ROI Focused Marketing And Marketing Communications Consultants

As a small of midsized marketer, what can be learned from this dramatic shift of larger marketers? With only a small (sometimes inexperienced) staff, limited financial resources and time constraints, what should be considered?

Start with established marketing and marketing communications consultants who are clearly focused on a brand’s profitability and ROI, and not just “likes” or “clicks”. They should have significant experience across industries and brands, both for profit and nonprofit, and have a broad understanding of customer, prospect (and employee) motivations to purchase and repurchase, regardless of the business environment.

But, above all, they must be media neutral and not selling “one size fits all” solutions. As Tom Bradley, former head of marketing at Nestle said, “The best source of marketing communications leverage is the quality of the message… not the media vehicle, new or traditional, that does or does not deliver.” And that also means you must be sure that your consultants have the ability to cultivate and manage the creative process.

Selecting A Consultant

Unsure of how to select a consultant, much less what type of professional to look for? If your business is floundering and in serious need of overall repair, along with financing, you probably would be better served by either a management or accounting consultant.

If, however, your primary need is to establish or improve a weak marketing or marketing communications program for the short and long term your selection should be apparent. You should be looking for rigorous and objective counsel on the entire scope of traditional marketing and marketing communications opportunities available to you (traditional vs. new media; conventional vs. digital; etc.).

Beyond the qualities of the consultants previously mentioned, be sure to look for:

  1. Someone who is disciplined, apolitical, down to earth, and willing to be part of your team; consultants who will promote candor across all levels, who will listen and explain what needs to be done to everyone’s satisfaction; teaching, not lecturing, is very important’;
  2. Professionals with the ability to develop successful strategies, plans and executions with your team or, if necessary, who can provide outside specialists to improve part or all of the program;
  3. People who have strong convictions to use research and measure not only what has been done but also what is proposed to be done; measurement is key to evaluating success or the need to modify a plan;
  4. A flexible organization that can bring in marketing and marketing communications specialists when and as needed so that overhead isn’t an on-going expense.

Most small and midsized companies find themselves with not enough time, skill or financial resources to develop and execute a profitable marketing and marketing communications program. These challenges are growing exponentially, and consultants can be of great value in navigating this complex environment and adding value to your brand.

Hopefully, these ideas will give you food for thought, but as Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”