What is Integrated Marketing Communications?
The definition of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), according to the American Marketing Association is the “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.” This includes but is not limited to:
- Social media
- Sales promotions
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
- Point of purchase
The game changed with regard to IMC when the internet came in to play in two big ways. First, instead of marketing campaigns being a “push” strategy, it became more “pull” with consumers searching information and becoming “push and pull” interactive. Second, with traditional media the same information is received by all consumers, and with internet media content can be tailored for specific groups or individuals.
IMC not only focuses on consistent messaging for the customer but also provides an efficient and cost effective way for advertisers to communicate. The idea is to harness the power of each channel to have a more effective impact than working each channel individually. The message remains consistent, but the delivery method varies across the platforms.
This ties nicely into advertising production strategic planning. A well defined content production strategy with optimized work flows is a powerful tool to work an IMC process and manage a budget efficiently.
Additional Types of Integration to Consider
- Horizontal – across the marketing mix and business functions – production, finance, distribution and communications working together
- Data – sharing relevant marketing data across different departments within a company and with agencies
- Vertical – ensuring marketing and communications support the higher level business and company objectives and mission
- Internal – keeping all staff informed and educated regarding brand and company identities, standards, partners, etc.
- External – coordinating with all external partners (advertising, PR, media, and digital agencies) to work together in a cohesive manner with messaging and campaigns
IMC: Where do you stack up?
One of the biggest pitfalls of integrating marketing communications (especially for large advertisers) is to be able to effectively and efficiently work across multiple departments that are each producing their own marketing communications. According to Smart Insights, only 6% of companies report that their marketing integration processes are fully optimized while 32% report that integration is a key area of focus for their organization. Regardless where you fall on the spectrum, there are several ways to drive efficiency with IMC including reducing agency fees, streamlining work flows, and leveraging consistent assets across all channels.
Have questions on how to build a production strategy to fit within IMC? Contact us to learn more.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.