Do you like Pepsi better than Coke? It could be the sweet aftertaste of Pepsi that gets you every time, but there’s an equal chance that it really is the “fun and young” feeling that you take in with every sip. Along with the delicious cola that sells by the billions every year, Pepsi is also selling its consumers a message – the fun people drink Pepsi, and the young swear by it. And Pepsi has maintained this consistent messaging to its consumers not for years but for decades. Pepsi commercials are the definition of integrated marketing communication, and the “Cola War” – as marketing maestros Jack Trout and Al Ries term it – is nothing but their way of sending a consistent, powerful, and effective message to win over consumers’ loyalty.
The advancement of technology and its implementation in various forms have changed the way businesses function. It has impacted different business domains like marketing, communication, and customer relationship. Entrepreneurs realized that the need of the hour is to create coordinated and consistent messages through various channels of communication. This led to the emergence of integrated marketing communication (IMC).
In today’s market, innumerable marketing mediums exist for entrepreneurs to pick from. Simultaneously, there are several marketing campaigns taking place for a single product/service of a brand. As such, it becomes difficult for a brand to maintain consistent messaging and uniform marketing communication throughout the organization. This is where integrated marketing communication comes in.
Meaning Of Integrated Marketing Communication
Integrated marketing communication is a simple concept that requires brands to have all their messages and communications carefully linked together. It doesn’t mean that an organization should only work with one unifying message throughout its marketing campaign. The American Association of Advertising Agencies offers an insightful definition of integrated marketing communication: “a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communication impact.” When organizations correctly understand the meaning of integrated marketing communication, it allows them to deliver a seamless experience that further strengthens the bond they share with their consumers.
When talking about integrated marketing communication, it’s essential to recognize that consistency should not only be limited to external communication. Internal communication means all staff need to be informed and motivated at all times so that they can stay consistent with the new developments and marketing campaigns.
Once the meaning of integrated marketing communication is understood, it’s important to get a clear idea about the importance of integrated marketing communication.
Importance Of Integrated Marketing Communication
The implementation of integrated marketing communication requires great effort and time. However, as a business owner, the benefits and importance of integrated marketing communication make you realize the different ways it helps your organization grow. Let’s look at some of them.
- IMC enables marketers to combine all their communication to help them plan and create a synergistic approach
- It wraps all the brand’s communication around customers, making their purchase journey smoother and easier
- Integrated marketing communication promotes consistency in internal as well as external communication
- The target customer understands the different kinds of information the brand wishes to disseminate rather than being confused about the vast amount of inconsistent messaging
- IMC gives an organization an edge over competitors and boosts sales. While communicating with the customer, the brand builds a relationship with them and creates a seamless buying experience, eventually leading to a lifelong, loyal client base.
- A well-coordinated IMC approach aligns short and long-term marketing to avoid any conflicts
- A unified and coherent message has more impact than myriad messages. IMC helps a brand stand out among the barrage of advertisements and campaigns that a customer is targeted with on a daily basis.
- Inconsistent communication increases anxiety, confusion and frustration in customers. An integrated message will shorten the time taken by the customer to decide what to buy and will also give them a reassuring sense of order.
These are some of the most prominent benefits of integrated marketing communication. However, despite its advantages, IMC has certain drawbacks that may pose a threat to an organization.
Barriers To Integrated Marketing Communication
The first step towards taking advantage of the benefits of integrated marketing communication is to recognize the barriers that exist. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
- Most often, organizations are very comfortable with their current structure and way of working. Resistance to change is one of the many obstacles to adopting an integrated marketing communication approach.
- Functional silos can be one of the other threats to the implementation ofIMC. More often than not, different departments in the organization don’t wish to coordinate with one another. Internal power battles can further hinder the process.
- IMC can also lead to stifled creativity. Innovative, out-of-the-box ideas are thrown out of the window if they aren’t in alignment with the overall marketing strategy and communication. However, when working with a strict and more integrated approach, creativity can be more challenging, ultimately offering the best result.
- While planning short and long-term marketing campaigns, integrating a holistic message can become difficult. However, if planned carefully and implemented correctly, it can be possible.
- Over the years, many managers and agencies have found it difficult to comprehend the meaning of integrated marketing communication and how to successfully implement it in their business.
Once you completely understand the definition of integrated marketing communication, its benefits and barriers, it’s necessary to learn about the various tools of IMC.
Tools Of Integrated Marketing Communication
The process of implementing IMC in an organization begins with a good integrated marketing communication plan. This strategically sound plan takes into consideration the various promotional tools that will be used in the marketing campaigns. The promotional tools can be a mix of modern marketing communication like social media, mobile marketing, blogs, webinars and traditional marketing communication like billboards, newspapers and TV commercials. Regardless of the brand’s marketing communication tools, the marketers must ensure that the message going out through each of these channels is coherent and integrated.
Examples Of Integrated Marketing Communication
Some of the most prominent organizations that have successfully implemented IMC and are noteworthy are:
Old Spice: Smell Like A Man
The Old Spice communication was one of the best as it was well integrated not only in its social media ads and eye-catching videos but also in its solid copywriting. It made for a complete package.
GoPro: Be A Hero
GoPro’s outdoor ads, brand-related sponsorships and other factors all have a coherent and consistent message centered around being a hero. This reinforces the brand’s offering and rings a bell in your head even if you just catch a visual.
LinkedIn: In It Together
An app that helps you find lucrative jobs, LinkedIn has made a place for itself in almost everyone’s phone. The brand launched a TV campaign, ‘In It Together’, which showcased a number of businesses in black-and-white documentary-style footage. Accompanying the TV commercials was a range of outdoor ads and social media videos.
These have been some of the most relevant examples of IMC in today’s day and age.
Business owners and managers should thoroughly understand the definition of integrated marketing communication before they begin adopting the various tools of IMC. It can be said without any doubt that integrated marketing communication is the need of the 21st century. However, clarity and transparency are vital for it to be successful. Technology has made it easier to implement various IMC programs. Short- and long-term returns can be expected when IMC is implemented correctly. Some other benefits include better utilization of funds, a synergy that runs through the various departments of the organization, easier working relations and so on. It should be noted that the study on integrated marketing communication is one that is progressive and ever-evolving.
Learning and understanding integrated marketing communication is a long and insightful process. Once you ace it and implement it throughout the various verticals of your organization, it’ll enable you to build a strong and long-lasting relationship with your consumers. Customers will easily understand your offerings and your brand’s philosophy. The holistic and comprehensive messaging will enable clients to easily buy your product/service without being bothered by the various other brands that keep hounding them with different communications. The IMC approach helps business owners save costs that they would otherwise have spent on assimilating information from different marketing messages.
Harappa’s Find Success With Clients pathway offers many such business solutions that can help you overcome the obstacles you may face while dealing with clients. With industry experts teaching you to handle the most difficult of situations, this pathway will enable you to come up with different strategies and frameworks to build your business. With real-life examples and bite-sized courses on different aspects of professional development, Harappa’s solution-based offerings are worth exploring. Check out the Find Success With Clients pathway now!