What is Integrated Marketing Communications?
Are you being heard? What is your audience hearing when you communicate? Does your current communication strategy evoke efficiency, productivity, positive brand awareness, and higher profitability? According to Sirgy and Rahtz (2007), integrated marketing communications (IMC) encompasses an organizational communication process that is structured from a hierarchical perspective that involves at least four levels:
- Marketing Communications
- Marketing Communication Mix (Advertising, public relations, sales promotions, reseller support, direct marketing, customer/tech support, and word-of-mouth communications.)
With each level of your IMC strategy, you or your marketing communication’s manager decides upon a IMC process from a pool of optional strategies. This chosen hierarchical level directs you or your marketing consultant/manager to articulate quantitative objectives in correlation with this strategy. Thus integration can be attained by developing and reinforcing linkage among your system’s components within each level of the process hierarchy.
From within the marketing decisions and marketing communications decisions sectors, you or your marketing communication consultant/manager focuses upon these following IMC strategy components:
- Brand Association
- A marketing objective. The term is used interchangeably with terms such as brand equity, brand image, and brand knowledge. It describes a desirable condition of which target consumers associate the brand with desirable features, events, and/or people.
- Informative (Thinker) Strategy
- A marketing communications strategy that drives you or your marketing communication’s manager to render target consumers with data (information) about your brand – that is, to educate/inform consumers about your product costs and/or benefits.
- Brand Awareness
- A marketing communications objective that defines a condition of which target consumers recognize or recall your brand relative to a specific product category.
- Affective (Feeler) Strategy
- A marketing communications strategy that drives you or your marketing consultant/manager to elicit an affective response, a feeling that helps nurture a positive attitude about your distinct brand. The focus is targeted on feelings rather than that of learning or evoking a purchase.
- Brand Preference
- A marketing communications objective that describes a desirable condition of which target consumers recognize your brand as preferable to that of your competitor’s brand.
- Habit-Formation (Doer) Strategy
- A marketing communications strategy that drives you or your marketing consultant/manager to influence purchase or overt behavioral response. The target is placed upon inducing consumer/buyer action.
- Brand Trial
- A marketing communications objective that defines a desirable condition of which target consumers have psychologically committed themselves to trying (sampling) your brand.
- Brand Purchase
- A marketing communications objective that defines a desirable condition of which consumers have actually purchased your product/service (brand).
- Self-Satisfaction (Reactor) Strategy
- A marketing communications objective that drives you or your marketing consultant/manager to influence purchase. The target strategically fixed upon inducing action, which in turn ignites certain positive feelings for your distinct brand.
Other essential aspects relative to developing and implementing your integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy are:
- Setting Objectives
- Monitoring and Control
- Analysis and Planning
The authentic “integration” of marketing communications can only be attained by way of strong links among various decision processes made by you (corporate, marketing, marketing communications levels). Consumers shift their thinking and perceptions relative to one brand (product/service) over another. You and/or your marketing consultant manager must realize that one message does not fit all. Your integrated marketing communications strategy must be designed, implemented, and managed in order to ensure a sustained connection between all stakeholders, customers/clients, vendors, and target consumers across a highly diversified market landscape.
Be smart and be encouraged,
Sirgy, M. J. & Rahtz, D. R. (2007). Strategic marketing communications. A systems approach to IMC. Mason, OH: Thomson.