Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) (Trigger 2)

So our main problem for the second trigger is:

How a company can use IMC in the most effective way?

We came up the following learning objectives:

  1. What is IMC? Why to do it?
  2. What are the elements of a successful IMC strategy?
  3. Find some examples. Why do you like/dislike them?

1. What is IMC?

Marketing Association defines Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) as “a 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.”

The IMC planning process has been compared to composing a musical score. In a piece of music, while every instrument has a specific task, the goal is to have them come together in a way that produces beautiful music. It’s the same in IMC, where advertising might be your violin, social media your piano, public relations your trumpet and so on. (source).

So basically, Integrated Marketing Communications is a simple concept, which ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together. IMC is all about integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony.

Why to do it?

Different shifts in the world of advertising, marketing and media have caused an increased interest in and need for IMC. These include:

A shift From… To…
Traditional Advertising Digital/Interactive Media
Mass Media Specialized Media
Traditional Compensation Performance-Based Compensation
Limited Internet Access Widespread Internet Availability

These shifts are forcing organizations to look at the whole marketing picture, re-aligning their communications and seeing things the way the consumer sees them – as a constant flow of information from indistinguishable sources. Those who practice IMC are avoiding duplicate messages, capitalizing on the synergy among promotional tools, creating more effective marketing programs and maximizing ROI.

2. What are the elements of a successful IMC strategy?

  • Horizontal Integration occurs across the marketing mix and across business functions – for example, production, finance, distribution and communications should work together and be conscious that their decisions and actions send messages to customers.
  • While different departments such as sales, direct mail and advertising can help each other through Data Integration. This requires a marketing information system which collects and shares relevant data across different departments.
  • Vertical Integration means marketing and communications objectives must support the higher level corporate objectives and corporate missions.
  • Meanwhile Internal Integration requires internal marketing – keeping all staff informed and motivated about any new developments from new advertisements, to new corporate identities, new service standards, new strategic partners and so on.
  • External Integration, on the other hand, requires external partners such as advertising and PR agencies to work closely together to deliver a single seamless solution – a cohesive message – an integrated message. (Source)

There is a TedTalkx By Nick Scarpino, Senior Account Planner at Google, called “A Guide for Prioritizing Marketing Communications”.  A few ideas from there:

  1. Utilize your physical location. For example a store, restaurant, building etc. Put a sign there, let people know you etc.

Chinese restaurant doing a great job in utilizing physical location in tough times. A car ran into the place, so they had to cover a broken window. Next to it they put amazing sign:



2.Build and maintain a website. Recent study by Google showed that 60% of small businesses do not have a web site. It is one of the least expensive tool of marketing communication ever, which gives 24/7 access to customers and perspective customers. It lets people know where you are, how to contact you, your services, prices etc.

3. Offer a way to speak to someone at your business. (Phone line, chat feature on the website etc). It a no brainer that nothing will ever replace an importance of human interaction.


4.Be found by your target markets. You have to make sure that potential customers who are looking for something that you are selling, can find you. If it is online, you have to show up on Google, on Bing, Amazon, Ebay, or anywhere where it is relevant to your business.

5. Engage customers within one community. For example, a Facebook page, where people who are using one brand or product can interact with each other etc.

One more interesting point from the TedTalk mentioned above:

3 Factors for Setting Marketing Communication priorities

  1. Target Markets
  2. Shareable Experiences
  3. ROI

As an example: [redefined]: IES Abroad Wins 2011 Innovation in Marketing Award (source).

It is an organization that promotes studying abroad and sends students for exchange from the USA to all over the world. So they were thinking about integrating marketing communications to raise awareness among other students. Firstly, they came up with a motto “Your world is [redefined]” (by studying abroad. And sent it to all students who were already on exchange. They removed the first part of it and just printed “______ [redefined]” to let students come up with something new and creative and tell everyone what was redefined by their experience abroad. And for real, student started sharing their ideas online, in social media and obviously their friends (also students) saw it, so the target markets was just there. Some pictures from that campaign:



So from this example we can see how main elements of IMC can work in harmony, and how creative you can be with that.

3.Find some examples. Why do you like/dislike them?

Federal Express. Hewlett-Packard. Target. Apple. The list is long and getting longer. One recent example is Saatchi and Saatchi’s 2010 campaign for the Toyota Sienna which debuted during the Winter Olympics.

In a quest to change the image of the minivan and those who drive it, Toyota launched its “Sienna Family” campaign. The campaign features a married Gen X couple trying to balance the reality of having two young children and a minivan with their desire to remain part of the cool crowd, emphasizing how the Sienna could make it all possible.

For the campaign, Toyota integrated social media into its traditional mix from the outset, inviting those who saw the ads on TV and in print to learn more at the company’s YouTube page. And then, on May 2, came “Swagger Wagon”—the now-famous music video in which the Sienna parents perform a hip-hop song about their minivan. The video, which was Toyota’s first viral marketing success to date, has received over 8 million YouTube hits and counting.

iMedia’s Greg Bardsley, who named “Sienna Family” one of the top IMC campaigns of 2010, had this to say: “Car manufacturers are no strangers to integrated campaigns, but few are done with such spot-on execution. Toyota manages to wow us with a family-focused, funny-yet-sweet campaign that succeeds across multiple platforms.”

Spot-on execution. Succeeding across multiple platforms. Now that’s IMC at work.

Link to the ad is here.

What is a bad IMC strategy?

One of the most common pitfalls for brands in terms of IMC is the use of too many tools for social media. Some brands have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, Yelp, etc., when their audience only really pays attention to one or two of those channels. What ends up happening here is that although one channel looks nice and engages in meaningful conversation, the others look like a barren wasteland that ignores their audience. Not good. (Source).

More examples of good IMC strategies and campaigns in this article.

7 Ways to create a successful integrated marketing campaign:

Step 1: Have a clear understanding of who your target audience is.

Step 2: Pick your channels. Not everyone needs to be on Facebook, or in a magazine.

Step 3: Have a consistent look. “Make sure your visual identity is consistent,” says Andrew Stanten, president, Altitude Marketing. “Visual identity is far more than your logo. It entails having a common overarching design (look and feel), style of photography and graphics, consistent logo treatment [and] common colors and fonts,” he says. “Everything should look as if it came from the same [company].

Step 4: Create clear, consistent content that can easily be adapted or repurposed to suit different media or channels. “Because it can take more than five impressions for an individual to recognize a brand or specific marketing message, follow the three Cs for marketing messages,” says Justin Honaman, partner, Consumer Goods, and retail national practice leader

Step 5: Ensure that your messaging is integrated.

Step 6: Make sure your marketing teams/agencies are working in sync.

Step 7: Don’t forget to track your campaigns. (Source)


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