Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is an expression of utilising both modern and traditional marketing strategies, to optimise the communication of a consistent message conveying the companies brand to stakeholders (Kitchen & Burgmann, 2015). Put simply, it is the principle that marketing is most effective if every marketing channel has communication that is aligned to the same core brand positioning. In ensuring that the message is consistent across communication mediums, the correct integration mix becomes imperative.
Many companies still rely on only one or two communication tools. This is in spite of the fragmenting of mass markets into a multitude of mini-markets, each with its own approach; the proliferation of new media types; and the growing sophistication of consumers (Kotler, 2012). With such a wide range of communication tools, messages, and audiences available today, it is imperative that companies move toward integrated marketing communications using a wider range of tools.
Why is IMC important?
Although IMC is not a new concept, it is more important now than ever because there are now more marketing channels than ever before. In large companies, each marketing channel may have a different manager which highlights the need for high level IMC strategies to ensure all departments are aligned.
Figure 1 – The IMC Process Model
In addition, consumers have never been more connected or involved in the marketing process but they also lose interest very quickly. They are looking for something beyond the marketing message an want to know ‘what’s in it for them’.
Figure 2 – Increase in consumer technology
According to research by Exolevel, retailers that deliver on their customers’ expectations and provide them with a seamless shopping experience – whether they are shopping in a store, online or through a mobile device – will win their loyalty and gain competitive advantage that drives sales. It is important then to focus on the integration of these marketing tools.
Integration is not simply ensuring your advertisements have a common tagline, use a consistent colour palette or try to force-fit a single message into multiple communication mediums. Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and delivering consistently on that identity. It requires not only the identification of a powerful, unifying strategy and compelling voice for your brand, but the discipline to roll it into every aspect of your organization—from advertising to sales, customer service to customer relationship management programs.
The Communications Mix
Organisations today are spoilt for choice of marketing mediums with the marketing communications mix consisting of various promotional tools like advertising, sales promotion, public relations and publicity, events and experiences, direct and interactive marketing, personal selling and online, digital and integrated marketing methods.
Figure 3 – Marketing Communication Mix
Companies must adopt a “360-degree view’ of consumers to fully understand all the different ways that communications can affect consumer behaviour in their daily lives (Prasad 2015). So how does a company decide on the marketing communication mix?
Consideration factors for getting the right mix
Companies must consider several factors in developing their communications mix. The type of product market, consumer readiness to make a purchase and the stage in the product life cycle will all influence the decision making process.
Type of product market: Communications mix allocations vary between consumer and business markets. Consumer marketers tend to spend comparatively more on sales promotion and advertising; business marketers tend to spend comparatively more on personal selling (Kotler, 2012).
Buyer readiness stage: Communications tools vary in cost effectiveness at different stages of buyer readiness (Kotler, 2012). There are 5 stages in the buyers readiness namely awareness, comprehension, conviction, order and reorder. Figure 4 shows the relative cost effectiveness of three communication tools.
Figure 4 – Stages of Buyers Readiness
Product life-cycle stage: Communication mix tools also vary in cost effectiveness at different stages of the product life cycle. There are four stages namely introduction stage, growth stage, maturity stage and decline stage. Figure 5 shows the relationship between product sales and the four life cycle stages.
Figure 5 – Product life cycle stages
It is clear that IMC is a complex process but when effective use of marketing channels is used taking into consideration the factors in the development of the communication mix, an excellent result can be achieved for the consumer.
Posted by John Gabbedy, ID: 98093723 (WordPress Username: JDGABBED)
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