The world of marketing communications is quite vast, with stiff competition. It is extremely important for businesses to develop a marketing communications approach that is unique and which will help them stay ahead of their competitors. Today, there are several different mediums and channels for marketing and advertising. Hence, it is vital that businesses adopt a 360-degree approach to deliver consistent marketing messages through powerful marketing campaigns. This will further enable them to not only improve their position in the market but also create their desired impact on existing and prospective customers.
This is where Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) comes into the picture. In this post, find out all that you need to know about IMC – right from what it means to its importance to its pros and cons.
What is Integrated Marketing Communications?
Integrated Marketing Communications can be defined as a strategic approach that helps in defining and delivering a unified marketing message across different marketing channels. Sending a unified message helps in driving higher customer engagement for the products and services of your business. Introduced in the 1980s, IMC enables businesses to align and unify all their marketing channels and deliver the same message.
When we say all marketing channels, it includes everything from your television and print channels to social media channels, website, etc. No matter which channels your customers choose for brand interaction, they will go through the same experience. One key thing to remember about IMC is that although it may sound like multi-channel marketing, it does not exactly mean that. Multi-channel marketing means running the same campaign on multiple marketing channels; however, IMC focuses on delivering the same message and experience across all the marketing channels.
One of the main goals of integrated marketing communications is to create a unified and consistent brand image and message which customers can easily identify across all marketing channels. This means that if a customer watches your ad on the television, hears about it on the radio, and visits the company website, they should have the same understanding.
Why is IMC important?
Here are the top four reasons why IMC is important.
1. Better-informed Customers
Customers today have become self-reliant and hardly need any assistance from marketers to understand what they need. Customers can conduct research and gather information about what they want by researching on the internet, going through social media posts, word of mouth, peer reviews, etc. With digital media playing a vital role and creating a significant impact on almost two-thirds of B2B purchases, marketers need to adopt the IMC approach to generate a unified brand message and deliver them to their targeted audience.
2. Fragmented Customer Segments
If you compare the pool of marketing channels that are available today with what was available 30-40 years back, there is a huge difference. In the 60s and 70s, if a 30-second ad were telecasted on all the major networks, it would have reached at least 80-90% of the targeted audience. But today, even if you play the same advertisement on 50-60 channels, it will not have the same audience reach. Since customer segments have become really fragmented nowadays, marketers need a strong IMC approach to reach the fragmented customer segments.
3. Intrusive and Cluttered Marketing Communication
Wherever you go today, customers are bombarded with ads – whether you are at a convenience store, driving on the highway, watching your favorite TV series, at a pizza store, or even at a gas station. Compared to the 2,000 ads around 30 years ago, people today living in the cities are exposed to almost 5,000 ads. Whether it’s a short 30-second ad or a promotional video, customers today feel that these ads have become too intrusive. With an integrated marketing communications approach in place, marketers can understand how to better use technology for customer engagement in a non-intrusive manner.
4. Newer Marketing Channels
The majority of companies set aside a chunk of their advertising budget for creating advertisements on traditional channels. However, there is a huge shift in this trend, with marketers opting to spend a chunk on exploring and boosting brand awareness through digital media. The traditional media channels have made way for more effective channels of marketing. Today, marketers need to come up with marketing campaigns that can help them in leveraging newer technologies and reach their targeted audience via social media, mobile, and other digital platforms.
The emergence of more marketing channels has resulted in more chaos. Marketers must ensure that they are sending out a unified message which is suitable for all the different types of marketing channels available. Many marketers fail to understand that for a customer, the primary aim is to understand the value of what the brand, product, or service can provide for them. Instead of focusing on short-term preferences, marketers should take advantage of an integrated marketing communications approach to build consistent brand awareness and experience.
Benefits of IMC
Below are some of the top benefits of implementing IMC.
1. Better Customer Relationships – With IMC, marketers can build better customer relationships by conveying the intended message across different channels. It also enables them to interact with their customers and create messages that resonate with their audience.
2. Segment Group Targeting – IMC enables B2B companies to target their customers based on various segments, such as demographics, psychographics, generations, and geographic areas.
3. Better Brand Perception – An effective IMC program can help businesses boost their brand perception. Having a single message conveyed across various marketing channels instills a positive and healthy brand image.
4. Boost Customer Retention – Apart from helping businesses increase sales and acquire new customers, IMC is also a great approach for boosting customer loyalty and retention.
Disadvantages of IMC
IMC also has its share of disadvantages, such as:
1. Higher Costs – Launching marketing campaigns across several channels can be a strain on your budget as it involves various costs related to the creation, production, and distribution.
2. Overload of Information – Information clutter is one of the biggest disadvantages, as marketers make the mistake of overloading their IMC campaigns with too much information.
3. Content Management – Since IMC runs on the principle of multiple marketing channels, managing content across these channels can be challenging for marketers, especially when your audience is spread across various segments.
4. Not Suitable for All Businesses – An IMC approach may not work well for all businesses due to various reasons, such as lack of monetary resources, inexperienced marketers, lack of sufficient skills and knowledge, etc.
Having an integrated communications marketing plan is an effective way of boosting your client loyalty and brand awareness, which in turn results in higher sales and profits. With IMC, businesses can focus on putting all their efforts together to drive a single and consistent marketing message. By implementing a once-centralized marketing plan, businesses can increase their rate of success and stay ahead of their competitors.