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The principle behind integrated communications is simple. It makes sure that every message across various communication channels is carefully interconnected.

What is integrated communications?

Simply said, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) delivers a consistent message across multiple channels to increase interest in a company’s goods and services among target audiences. It is the union of marketing, advertising, and public relations (PR).

Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a brand’s or business’s message. Customers will have difficulty getting to the bottom of the company’s content if the sales staff and the social media marketing team tell them conflicting stories. IMC eliminates these problems and differences and ensures that brands send the same messages no matter what team or goal is most important.

This detailed guide discusses integrated marketing and its importance for businesses and brands.

Here we will cover:

  • The Evolution of Integrated Marketing Communications
  • The Goals and Benefits of Integrated Communications
  • Components of Integrated Communications
  • Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy
  • Examples of Successful Integrated Marketing Communications Campaigns
  • The Future of Integrated Communications

Let’s get into it!

The Evolution of Integrated Marketing Communications

When determining a new business approach’s inception, popularity, and, most significantly, relevance in theory and practice, understanding its beginnings is crucial. Integrated communication makes this challenging, though, as there are differing opinions regarding when it was developed or used.

According to Duncan (2001:11), Drobis (1997-1998:2), and Schultz (1997-1998:1), the foundations of integrated communication had existed since the 1970s, when industry experts first noticed a shift in consumer preferences and behavior, and when Duncan and Caywood (1996:13) argued that traditional advertising was rapidly losing its “golden halo” in the process.

As a result, advertising firms merged and acquired one another in the 1970s and 1980s to provide a broader range of services to their clientele. But at the time, most advertising companies needed to learn more about integrated communication.

They kept their narrow focus, reacting to most problems with the mantra “advertising is the solution.”

Later, Ogilvy discusses the transition of marketing management into integrated communication in an interview cited by Schultz, Tannenbaum, and Lauterborn (1993:I). In the interview, Ogilvy notes that advertising agencies, spearheaded by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, tried to incorporate the notion by naming it “new advertising.”

Therefore, in their minds, integrated communication was only an “add-on” to preexisting marketing strategies rather than an entirely new approach.

Two primary drivers of change have shaped the evolution of integrated communication over time- Information technology and management’s evolving perspective on the responsibility of communication specialists.

The Goals and Benefits of Integrated Communications

press release, customer experience

The similarity in tone and presentation strengthens the brand’s central message when communicated to customers. The goal is for all marketing communication channels (including traditional forms of advertising and promotion and newer ones like direct marketing, personal selling, and online and social media) to function in tandem.

What is the goal of integrated marketing communication?

Integrated marketing campaigns often aim to accomplish several objectives, like raising brand awareness, generating sales, and encouraging repeat purchases.

Companies should only change their strategy or reevaluate their IMC goals if significant market changes, new competing factors, or new promotional possibilities exist.

The cost-efficiency of the various marketing aspects increases thanks to the synergy between them.

Given fragmentation, the low cost of mass media has made integrated marketing messaging the most crucial part of modern marketing. As consumers devote more time to digital platforms, marketing teams must ensure that consumers have consistent brand experiences across all channels. It is becoming increasingly more work to comprehend a company’s marketing strategy by looking only at its advertisements.

Instead, you may gain a sense of a company’s core values by observing how the many components of their communications ecosystem interact, paying close attention to how communications are tailored to individual customers and respond in real-time.

What are IMC and its benefits?

When it comes to adopting IMC strategies, firms often aim and strive towards the objectives that follow, although finances, product features and perks, and consumer habits can all differ significantly:

  • to increase brand recognition
  • to boost industry or customer demand for a particular product category
  • influencing or changing client opinions or attitudes
  • to encourage more buying behaviors
  • To boost customer loyalty
  • To increase consumer visits to brick-and-mortar stores, websites, and other marketing channels
  • Boosting company/brand reputation
  • to expand market share
  • to boost revenue
  • To strengthen purchasing decisions

Depending on the campaign’s goals, an IMC strategy may focus on one, several, or all of these areas.

Components of Integrated Communications 

important component, increase awareness,

A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute found that 90% of businesses use content like blogs, articles, and e-newsletters as a vital part of their marketing initiatives. Companies like Mint and Disney have found that offering either informational or entertaining material is an exceptionally successful way to attract subscribers and build brand awareness while adding value to customers and increasing engagement.

Too often have we heard statements such as “But those are larger companies with enough money for implementing large-scale integrated content marketing.” Although they have resources, integrated marketing can also level the playing field for smaller businesses.

Below are the six components essential to an integrated marketing strategy’s success if you’re considering creating one for your company.

  • The Foundation

The basis for this element is a strategic comprehension of the product and market. These include technological developments, shifts in consumer preferences and habits, and the actions of potential rivals.

More people believe that a company’s brand should reflect the company’s mission, values, strengths, and character.

  • The Focus of the Brand

This includes the brand’s essence, comprising a logo, mission statement, tagline, visual identity, and overall aesthetic.

  • Consumer Experience

Product and packaging design, in-store interaction with the product, after-sale support, and other aspects of the consumer’s overall experience all contribute to the product’s overall quality.

  • Communication tools

The various forms of advertising, direct marketing, and online interactions, including social media, all comprise the communications platforms of today’s marketing world.

  • Promotion tools

Tools for promotion include public relations and sponsorship programs, personal selling, database marketing, and customer relationship management. Other types of promotions comprise trade and consumer promotions.

  • Integration tools

Programs that monitor integrated marketing campaigns’ efficiency and individual customers’ actions. This category also includes software for managing customer, prospect, and partner relationships.

What are the four types of IMC?

one campaign, brand top

Integrated marketing communication is a complex business term but is simple to comprehend when broken down into component elements. And apart from the components, you can further break down integrated marketing communication into four primary categories:

  • horizontal,
  • vertical,
  • internal, and
  • external.

Your company will be able to successfully meet the objectives you’ve set for it by combining these components into a marketing strategy.

Putting these pieces into a cohesive marketing plan can help your company reach its objectives more effectively. Now, let’s look at each type briefly.

  1. External

You engage in external marketing integration whenever your business interacts with entities outside of it. Agencies specializing in advertising, marketing, and public relations organizations could fall under this category.

  1. Internal

Integrating internal marketing involves keeping staff members interested in upcoming projects the business is working on. Naturally, if you’re introducing a new product, you want employees to wait to expose specifics, but by creating interest among your employees, that excitement spreads to people outside the organization.

  1. Horizontal

When creating a product or service, horizontal integration is a crucial factor. Your distribution team needs to communicate with your production team, and your production team needs to communicate with your financing team. Make it a priority to maintain open channels of communication inside your company. You will notice that operations run more efficiently than they would if you excluded specific parties from the discussion.

  1. Vertical

If you prioritize vertical integration, you’ll find that your product or service aligns with the company’s policies and organizational structure. Creating a foolproof production strategy will be easier if the product or service aligns with the company’s goals.

Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy 

An integrated approach is essential for launching a successful campaign across numerous channels. To create a successful campaign, follow these steps to create an integrated marketing strategy:

  1. Know your campaign objectives

Clarifying your objectives is the first stage in any successful marketing effort. Do you need more people to recognize your brand? Boost revenue from online stores? Increase the number of customers who visit your store physically.

It’s crucial to nail down your campaign’s objectives early on because they will guide your marketing efforts in the future.

  1. Recognize your target market

integrated marketing campaign, seamless experience, communications channels, all the channels, consumers interact, multiple platforms, tv commercial, print ads, global audiences, tv ads, more channels, saving money, collect leads, same direction, campaign goals, blog post, different platforms, customer base, subject lines, individual users, drive sales, new customers

The following stage is to identify your target market. This is a crucial stage since it determines the marketing channels you employ, the creative message you generate, and the message you send.

For instance, if you wish to reach millennials, you could create a social media campaign that features influencers. Or, you may put money on television advertising directed toward the baby boomer generation.

  1. Choose your marketing platforms

Once you’ve identified your target demographic, you can begin experimenting with various channels to contact them.

There are numerous options available, but the following are among the most popular:

  • SEM (search engine marketing)
  • Social networking sites
  • email advertising
  • Banner advertising
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Word-of-mouth marketing
  • Event marketing
  • Content marketing

Regardless of how many channels you employ, each must contribute to the same result: consistently expressing your brand identity across every channel.

  1. Assess Your Progress

Choose the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to gauge success before the campaign goes live and use them for post-campaign analysis. Kissmetrics, an analytics company, suggests conducting A/B tests to determine which website, email, or other marketing medium versions perform better.

  1. Repeat and Fine-tune

After implementing an integrated marketing communications strategy, evaluating the approach, making necessary adjustments, and working to improve it is essential. Therefore, you must focus on being flexible and open-minded with your techniques.

Examples of Successful Integrated Marketing Communications Campaigns 

traditional marketing, communication strategy, media relations, market research, marketing collateral, social media engagement, target customers, paid advertising, email marketing, strategic approach, different channels, consumer engagement, brand loyalty

For businesses seeking inspiration for their integrated marketing communication initiatives, here are two successful examples to get your creative juices flowing.

  1. McDonald’s – Singapore

A classic example of a corporation successfully using integrated campaigns in Asia is McDonald’s ‘Prosperity Burger. The fast food industry behemoth has an extensive track record of executing successful multichannel marketing initiatives.

The marketing initiative portrays the tale of a young woman who travels frequently and can’t spend Chinese New Year with her family. She feels lonely as her family video chats to invite them to share a Prosperity Burger. It is a moving narrative that resonates with many international workers and students.

The campaign is warm and relevant, giving the impression that McDonald’s truly comprehends the difficulties faced by Singaporeans across several channels.

 

  1. Coca-Cola China

Do you know about Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke initiative? Coca-Cola China pushed it up a notch in 2017 after it was a tremendous hit in 80 different nations. This campaign was aimed mainly at the younger demographic in China and was a smashing success.

It included print, web banners, and television commercials with the same tagline: “Now you can enjoy Diet Coke even more.”

Coca-Cola China also produced two films to accompany the promotion, which eventually broadcasted on television and digital channels.

 

The Future of Integrated Communications 

target audience, integrated marketing communications plan, integrated marketing campaign, integrated strategy, corporate communications

IMC’s components will keep shifting and changing in the future to keep up with current developments. However, the sheer number of communication channels and the rapid pace at which emerging innovations are developed have significantly increased the complexity of IMC.

In the meantime, the limited shelf life of content is another factor that will cause IMC to undergo some modifications. The IMC idea, which puts the customer first, must follow customers where they go since the future may lean toward co-creation, resulting in the two widespread patterns.

  • Omnichannel Marketing

A consumer’s journey through a business is the focal point of omnichannel marketing. While an omnichannel strategy’s approaches are similar to those of an integrated one, its overarching objective is to provide customers with a consistent, seamless experience across all channels.

While omnichannel marketing’s key concept is consistent messaging, its strength lies in integrating these interactions with company goals, such as direct sales and repeat conversions, rather than pursuing leads and prospective clients.

You might be wondering which marketing strategy is best for your company. The answer is nuanced, depending on your company’s objectives and the existing channels.

  • User-generated Content

integrated marketing campaign, consistent message, target audience, marketing channel, social media channels, integrated marketing communications plan, integrated marketing approach,

Using user-generated material across brand channels, from social media and sites to in-store displays of published digital content, indicates how brands currently employ co-creation. In addition, many companies optimize their stores and other forms of marketing (like experiential events) for shareability,’ encouraging customers to take photos and videos. At the same time, they interact with the brand to generate digital content that can be used for future marketing.

Conclusion 

With a calculated, promotional, and collaborative marketing approach, integrated marketing communications ensures that consumers encounter a coherent brand message across all marketing channels and points of contact. Additionally, everything works together to guide customers through the buyer’s journey (the inquiry and decision-making phase). IMC guarantees that brands present the same message consistently in all their channels. This does not imply that the channels must broadcast identical messages at the same frequency but that all communications must focus on the brand’s essential message or goal.

Ultimately, integrated Marketing Communication has several moving parts, and it’s understandable if you don’t have the time to adequately nail down the essentials. If you need a helping hand to seamlessly integrate every aspect of your company’s marketing and communication, look no further than Muse & Motif!

 

Joscelin Kwek

Joscelin Kwek, founder of Muse & Motif, is a PR expert with nearly 20 years of experience in brand communications and investor relations. She launched her Singapore-based agency during the pandemic, focusing on digital marketing, data analytics, and sustainability. Known for her strategic thinking and crisis management, Joscelin is committed to community support, dedicating efforts to pro-bono work and environmental conservation. Her blogs offer insights into effective PR strategies and industry leadership.