Integrated marketing communications can be a difficult concept for people to grasp, especially if they are hearing the phrase for the first time. I estimate that about eight times out of ten, whenever I say I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, people ask what that is. My guess is that the two remaining people who don’t inquire are embarrassed they don’t know what it means.
Honestly, I don’t expect the average person walking down the street to instantly know what it is that I do. When my aunt, who is a cardiac nurse, throws around terms like “angiotension receptor antagonists”, I have absolutely no idea what they mean. Each occupation has a vocabulary set that is unique to their profession.
After going through my IMC program, I could give a lengthy collegiate explanation that, at the end of the day, would leave you “as befogged as before”. So, I’m going to explain in layman’s terms exactly what integrated marketing communications is. For the purposes of this explanation, we are going to focus exclusively on larger companies that use internal marketing departments for their work. We’ll set aside small companies and those who utilize outside agencies for another blog post.
Here are just ten channels that may be used in a marketing campaign:
- Sponsorship Opportunities
- Social Media
- E-mail newsletters
- Pay-per-click advertising
These days, there is practically an endless list of additional channels and sub-channels marketers can use to deliver messages to their target audience. In fact, the list is continually growing as new channels evolve. Needless to say, at any given moment, a single company can have dozens (sometimes hundreds) of messaging efforts either in planning stages or already in the marketplace. It is imperative that all of this messaging be:
- Aligned to the established goal(s)
- Within the guidelines of the company’s brand
- Integrated to form one cohesive message
Yes, there is that word “integrated”. What it all boils down to is the need to keep all of the messaging integrated and cohesive. Marketing messaging has the ability to build off of synergy. Let’s say Macy’s is trying to entice me to shop their President’s Day Sale. The week before the sale, they communicate to me through television commercials during my favorite show, radio ads I hear on my way to/from work, notices in my Facebook news feed, bonus coupons by mail, and a special exclusive offer in my e-mail. ALL of the communication is telling me the same thing – I’ll save LOTS of money if I shop their President’s Day Sale. There might be a slight variation on the message, but it is always there. This is integrated marketing communications.
Marketing communications lose their effectiveness when the messages are mixed. If the television offer told me about the President’s Day Sale, the radio commercials stressed the new line of clothing that Macys is starting to carry, the Facebook ad promoted Martha Stewart kitchen products, the mailing gave me a promotional offer to use my Macys card, and the e-mail told me about the new café offerings, I would have been bombarded by a variety of messaging that didn’t build on each other. Thus, I would be a lot less likely to take action towards any of those items.
Companies with large marketing departments struggle to keep all of their messaging in order. It is all too common for the television production, social media, and e-mail marketing to be handled by separate departments. By implementing an integrated marketing communications strategy, the overall game plan is created, then communicated between departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page. With the right integrated marketing communications professional, a campaign goes from existent to effective. In today’s competitive marketplace, it is vital for businesses to leverage their messaging within the proper media channels. Businesses who realize this and take action to make it happen are the ones who are outperforming their competitors.
If you are looking for a professional to integrate your messaging, contact me today!