What exactly is integrated marketing communications?
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is more than a combination of a business’ marketing, public relations (PR) and advertising. By definition, integrated marketing communications is consistent brand messaging across all channels, including organizational culture, the 4 P’s – Product, Price, Promotion and Place – advertising, online marketing, sales and customer service, PR, trade shows and corporate philanthropy.
Creating an integrated marketing campaign
While there is no established formula for creating a successful integrated marketing campaign, there are steps that businesses and marketers can take to maximize engagement and prevent fragmentation. While part of integrated marketing is about selecting the most effective channels to reach your target audience, companies must be more open to evolving continuously as technology progresses and new methods of engagement are created. The different teams must come together to make sure customers’ needs are being met and that the company’s brand is consistent. According to DC Marketing Pro, “General marketing, customer service, reputation marketing, and sales are morphing into one big beast that needs to be tackled and tamed.” Companies that are not willing to do so will get left behind and eventually fail.
When constructing your marketing plan, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- Can your customers find you easily online?
- Are your customers’ online user experience on desktop computers, smart phones, tablets and mobile apps as good as their experience in person at brick and mortar stores?
- Is your customer experience aligned with your messaging and brand promise?
- Are you maximizing your messages across all communication channels for each of your target audiences?
So how can you create the best integrated marketing plan for your business?
Integrated marketing is more than pushing out a company slogan or image on randomly selected channels that you believe will reach your target audience. Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity (Business Week). Below you will find the seven steps for a successful integrated marketing plan, as told by CIO.com writer Jennifer Lonoff Schiff:
- Have a clear understanding of who your target audience is.
- Pick your channels.
- Have a consistent look.
- Create clear, consistent content that can easily be adapted or repurposed to suit different media or channels.
- Ensure that your messaging is integrated.
- Make sure your marketing teams/agencies are working in sync.
- Don’t forget to track your campaigns.
There is no concrete formula for a great integrated marketing plan, but determination, a forward-seeing CEO and a great CMO are the perfect ingredients to get one started.