What is IMC? Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a marketing concept of the 1990s. It will be necessary for survival in the 21st century. It ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together. The topic of this article: Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): Definition, Components, and its Process. At its most basic level, Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, as we’ll call it, means integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony. Read and share it in English!
Introduction of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Explanations!
The advent of integration is causing marketers to take a fresh look at all the components of marketing, specifically the unique dimension that public relations bring to the marketing mix. Public relations people, in turn, are seizing the opportunity that integration offers them to make a difference where it counts most to their companies and clients – on the bottom line.
IMC is the culmination of the shift that began in the post – World War II period, from selling what the companies make to making what the consumers want. IMC is focused on what to know about product and services, not what the marketers want to tell them in order to sell them.
Integrated Marketing Communication is defined as the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tool, avenues and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on customer and other end users at a minimal cost.
This integration affects all firm business-to-business, marketing channel, customer-focused, and internally directed communications. It is a management concept that is designed so that all the marketing communication which consists of advertising, sales promotion, public relation, and direct marketing work together as a unified force rather than each of those marketing communication work in isolation.
Besides, it acts as an aggressive marketing plan because it sets and tracks marketing strategy that captures and uses the extensive amount of customer information. It also ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together to achieve a specific objective.
Meaning of IMC:
It is essential for organizations to promote their brands well among the end-users not only to outshine competitors but also survive in the long run. Brand promotion increases awareness of products and services and eventually increases their sales, yielding high profits and revenue for the organization.
Definitions of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC):
The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), defines it as:
“A concept of marketing communication planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines, e.g. general advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communication impact.”
The Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism defines IMC as,
“The process of managing all sources of information about a product/service to which a customer or prospect is exposed which behaviorally moves the customer toward the sale and maintains customer loyalty.”
According to Kotler and Armstrong, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a concept in which a:
“Company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communication channels—mass media advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, packaging, and others—to deliver a clear, consistent, and compelling message about the organization and its products.”
Integrated Marketing Communication according to Schultz and Kitchen,
“Is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate co-ordinated measurable, persuasive brand communication programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects and other targeted, relevant external and internal audience.”
Tom Duncan defined IMC as,
“A process for managing the customer relationships that drive brand value. More specifically, it is a cross-functional process for creating and nourishing profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven, purposeful dialogue with them.”
In short, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is:
“Joint planning, execution, and coordination of all areas of marketing communication and also understanding the consumer and what the consumer actually responds to.”
The Components of Integrated Marketing Communication:
Let us go through various components of Integrated Marketing Communication:
- The Foundation: As the name suggests, the foundation stage involves a detailed analysis of both the product as well as the target market. It is essential for marketers to understand the brand, its offerings, and end-users. You need to know the needs, attitudes, and expectations of the target customers. Keep a close watch on competitor’s activities.
- Corporate Culture: The features of products and services ought to be in line with the work culture of the organization. Every organization has a vision and it’s important for the marketers to keep in mind the same before designing products and services. Let us understand it with the help of an example. Organization A’s vision is to promote a green and clean world. Naturally, its products need to be eco-friendly and biodegradable, in lines with the vision of the organization.
- Brand Focus: Brand Focus represents the corporate identity of the brand.
- Consumer Experience: Marketers need to focus on consumer experience which refers to what the customers feel about the product. A consumer is likely to pick up a product which has good packaging and looks attractive. Products need to meet and exceed customer expectations.
- Communication Tools: Communication tools include various modes of promoting a particular brand such as advertising, direct selling, promoting through social media such as facebook, twitter, Orkut and so on (Note: Orkut is no longer use it).
- Promotional Tools: Brands are promoted through various promotional tools such as trade promotions, personal selling and so on. Organizations need to strengthen their relationship with customers and external clients.
- Integration Tools: Organizations need to keep a regular track on customer feedbacks and reviews. You need to have specific software like customer relationship management (CRM) which helps in measuring the effectiveness of various integrated marketing communications tools.
Integrated marketing communication enables all aspects of the marketing mix to work together in harmony to promote a particular product or service effectively among end-users.
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Process:
The following process below are;
Identify target audience:
The promotional process must start by identifying the target audience by using segmentation, which is defining buying preferences and characteristics of buyers and dividing them into segments. The goal of identifying target audiences is to design promotional strategies that can meet customer expectations more accurately.
Thus, IMC which integrating and coordinating all types of marketing promotional tools that maximize the satisfaction of buyers will be very useful to the firm’s promotional strategies. This is because IMC can help the company by providing customer databases to sellers and marketers to identify information about the buyers precisely and accurately.
Determine the communication objectives:
In the second stage, the company needs to develop a clear objective and the goals of promotional strategies. The objectives of promotional strategies include creating products and services awareness in the buyers’ mind, developing competitive advantages against competitors, creating brand equity of buyers, retaining current buyers and changing buyers’ behaviors.
Meanwhile, Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) develops different types of promotional tools, which have containing different functions to achieve the communication objectives of the promotional strategies effectively and efficiently.
An effective message will get the attention of buyers and maintain their interest in the messages about their brand of products. Therefore, the promotional team of a firm should implement IMC when designing the messages delivered to each segment in order for the messages to be delivered effectively.
Although a tailored message for each target segments designed by using several promotional tools in the IMC process, but the messages of promotions must have the same meaning and theme. This is because each of the promotional tools must be used to achieve the same communication objectives and goals within the firm.
Implementation of a promotional strategy:
Promotional channels can divide into two categories, which consists of personal communication and nonpersonal communication channels. So when incorporated IMC into the promotional strategy, it needs to select and implement the right marketing channels and methods.
No single channel can dominate in all aspects, which means that the channels need to be adjusted based on the markets needs and changes from time to time. This has proven that IMC which integrating and coordinating all types of marketing promotional channels can be very useful when it comes to the implementation of the promotional strategy process.
Finally, the firms will carry out some surveys in order to get some feedback from the target audience as the final step in the IMC process. For example, the firm will ask how effectively the message was delivered to the target audience, such as how many times the audience saw the advertisement or can the audience remember what the message marketers are going to inform and etc.
Based on that, the firm will conduct a report about the behavior resulting from the message, such as how many of the target audiences buy the product or visit the store after they saw the advertisement. This information could be very important to the firm promotional strategies as it could directly affect the volume of sales, profits and indirectly reflect the successfulness of the promotional strategies that had been implemented. Hence, all this information can get from the customer database to create more accurate and reliable feedback.