Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a strategic approach to the planned management of an organisation’s communications. Even though the IMC as a marketing approach is a relatively new strategy for companies; it has developed at the speed of light. This happened mainly due to benefits it presents including higher reach, customer loyalty and communications with all stakeholders or basically everyone who is in any way connected to your company.
As every company, or brand, has not only functional but also emotional values it is vital to communicate in the same voice through all the levels of the business and try to send the same idea through all channels, and to all the people involved. Only if the voice is consistent will the mission of an organisation be completely understood running clearly and successfully. It is time for small and medium businesses to learn applying this voice to all its publicity.
To reach and communicate with potential customers marketers use various communications tools, like advertising, public relations, personal selling and others. Although each of the marketing tools can separately impact the performance of the brand, they are much more effective if used in combination. The right choice of approach to the customers is crucial for the business and it’s position in the market. In order to make this decision, a company must know who its customers are and gather as much information as possible about them, Based on this you can then make decisions about the ways how to reach the target audience and media to use. For instance, car manufacturer Ford is more likely to follow up the purchase by email or even a phone call to ensure each customer is satisfied, whereas the Kit-Kat brand is more likely to use sales promotions (sale, deal etc.).
In order to make IMC work you should not stop after sending messages to customers but also pay great attention to employees and their satisfaction. Shoe manufacturer and retailer Ecco is a good example of well planned and used internal marketing which is integrated with the main values and messages of the brand itself. Company’s webpage says that their greatest resource is employees, moreover, the statement says – “At Ecco, learning is priority – and important to our success”. Ecco is committed to help every employee to reach their full potential – it provides leadership training programmes and personalised career plans. It builds on the most crucial aspects of internal environment – belonging and commitment. It is said that a happy employee = happy customers.
In the 21st century, where ethical and environmental issues are widely discussed, companies begin to realise the importance of communications with society as a whole. The societal and sustainable marketing is related to the positioning of the company’s products in a way that it is acceptable and not harmful for the customers, but also the general public. The marketing communications tools, which is most likely to be used to send the message about the ethical and ecological values of the company, is public relations. The Body Shop is an obvious example of this marketing approach – it is selling natural products made in environmentally friendly ways. Which, furthermore, helps society by donating money and raising awareness about the fair trade movement, child abuse and other issues connected with protecting the planet and defending human rights.
Similarly marketing communications and particularly public relations are used to communicate with another target group – the media. The development of the new technologies brings rising importance to information being placed in various media and delivered by different people. Successful media communications is an expanding part of integrated marketing communications. If the company can manage to be in good relationships with the “media people”, then it is more likely that they will deliver the right message to the right audience. To achieve this, marketing practitioners use various tools like: press releases and conferences, sections of the website specially designed for the media, annual reports etc.
It doesn’t stop there
Nowadays companies have to think not only about the IMC, but about the integrated marketing communications – the considerations should go “outside the box” and think about the company’s general communications. Integrated communications has become an expansive discipline that links marketing to a number of other fields, including design, corporate culture, public relations and corporate communication. Even though the large companies with large marketing budgets seem to be managing well sending out consistent messages, the smaller companies struggle to use various ways and tools to integrate and improve its overall communications. To help in finding the right approach marketing agencies assist companies in building strong, loyal two-way communications to ensure that integrated communications is there.
This article was written by Diana Lauska at Coretium