In a world of thousands of brand messages, it’s important that every brand message is consistent and relevant. That’s where integrated marketing communication (IMC) becomes important. With IMC, all aspects of marketing communications such as advertising, public relations, direct mail, promotions and social media work together, instead of each working in isolation. IMC starts with a core brand strategy based on goals and objectives, and goes beyond communication tools to include the coordination of messaging, channels, creative and technology.
When IMC broke onto the scene in the 1980’s, the mantra was “one voice”. A company relied heavily on advertising to develop its brand, because in advertising the company controlled the content. Depending upon its budget, the company supplemented its ad messaging with unified messaging in collateral, promotions and trade shows. Through press releases, case studies, interviews, photography and other elements, the company’s public relations agency provided information to the media for their content. It was a different time.
While today’s IMC continues to be a customer-centric approach, technology has changed the playing field. Regardless of their consumer or B2B-focus, companies are increasingly developing their own content and using social media, contests, user-generated content, video clips and other Web-based applications to engage with consumers. While technological advances enable companies to create and communicate their own brand content more quickly, effectively and at a reduced financial risk, there is still the matter of orchestrating the various messaging with a tonality to which customers respond. Tweets need to conform in ‘voice’ with other social media, collateral, press releases, ads and sales promotions as well as the Website and other digital media. It’s an orchestra of messaging with everyone playing on key, and in time.
While technology has made it easier for companies to produce content for its various audiences, the same technology enables a customer’s experience to go viral overnight on blogs, Twitter and YouTube. Today’s companies need to recognize the importance of what is happening at the various consumer touch-points and realize their customer service department is now part of the brand media mix. Just as each individual is part of a bigger brand, so does each element of an integrated marketing communications program make deposits into, or withdrawals from, the “brand bank”.
At Kleber & Associates, we strive to accomplish personal communication through integrated marketing communications. When marketing home products, one must be cohesive and thorough. As the landscape of communication has changed (think texting, Twitter and iPhones), so has the way we do business.
Integrated marketing communications doesn’t have a universal definition, but its overall gist is a holistic approach to marketing in which all aspects of communication come together to form a cohesive and unified message. Integrated marketing communications is designed to align stakeholders in such a way that they feel everything is connected, from public relations to advertising to promotion and direct marketing.
Consider our “Four P’s of integrated marketing communications”…
- Plan: Like any strategy, you and your team should designate specific goals and tactics as you prepare to integrate your marketing efforts.
- Participate: Try to strip away titles like “PR-like object” or “creative execution.” All members of your team should be focused on one thing: offering what ever is best for the audience. Therefore, you should all be thinking of ways to effectively overlay all promotions, advertising, PR and marketing.
- Pass On: Keep everyone informed. All the time. Share information in a way that keeps all of the team in the loop.
- Promote: Sell back the results of integration by promoting the metrics of its success.
When planned and executed well, integrated marketing communications fosters cooperation, lower costs, better internal communication, personal growth and innovation as well as the consumer’s faith in a company’s integrity. As your team collaborates to blend traditional PR efforts with traditional advertising and social media, your team has the chance to learn more, sharpen their skills and think more strategically.
Stakeholders appreciate it, too. Imagine receiving a clear set of messages with one voice that encompasses your entire campaign. MMC Learning puts it nicely:
“Integrated marketing communications wraps communications around customers and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process. The organization simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue and nurtures its relationship with customers.”
In the end, it’s really all about togetherness. And doesn’t that sound nice?