IMC Communication Process, Traditional models16th February 2021
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is an approach used by organizations to brand and coordinate their communication efforts. The American Association of Advertising Agencies defines IMC as “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.” The primary idea behind an IMC strategy is to create a seamless experience for consumers across different aspects of the marketing mix. The brand’s core image and messaging are reinforced as each marketing communication channel works together as parts of a unified whole rather than in isolation.
Benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications
With so many products and services to choose from, consumers are often overwhelmed by the vast number of advertisements flooding both online and offline communication channels. Marketing messages run the risk of being overlooked and ignored if they are not relevant to consumers’ needs and wants.
One of the major benefits of integrated marketing communications is that marketers can clearly and effectively communicate their brand’s story and messaging across several communication channels to create brand awareness. IMC is also more cost-effective than mass media since consumers are likely to interact with brands across various forums and digital interfaces. As consumers spend more time on computers and mobile devices, marketers seek to weave together multiple exposures to their brands using different touch points. Companies can then view the performance of their communication tactics as a whole instead of as fragmented pieces.
The other benefit of integrated marketing communications is that it creates a competitive advantage for companies looking to boost their sales and profits. This is especially useful for small- or mid-sized firms with limited staff and marketing budgets. IMC immerses customers in communications and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process. The organization simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue, and nurtures its relationship with customers throughout the exchange. IMC can be instrumental in creating a seamless purchasing experience that spurs customers to become loyal, lifelong customers.
- Identify your customers from behavioral data
Let’s start with this assumption: For education institutions, the customer is the student.
Behavioral data: Tells us what customers do, how they act, and their history in relation to our offering.
Demographic data: Tells us a customer’s age, location, gender, income, and so on.
IMC is based on what people do. The key takeaway is that behavioral data is going to yield better results over demographic data, every single time. Aggregate your customers according to their behaviors first. After that, enhance it with other types of segmentation.
- Determine the financial value of your customers and prospects
Marketing is traditionally considered an organizational expense. However, an IMC mindset requires us to look at marketing as an investment, a strategic tool that influences incoming dollars.
To know what we can spend to attract new students, we must know the financial value of our current students and prospects. This value becomes the basis for marketing investment because customers drive revenue. Use this value to set goals and determine what marketing actions to take.
- Create and deliver messages and incentives
We can now set marketing goals that tie back to our institution’s financial goals, and then create and deliver meaningful marketing communications to prospects and customers.
Tie marketing objectives to financial outcomes using these two components:
- Delivery: Where do customers come into contact with your brand? Where do they want to come into contact with your brand?
- Content: What customer insights can you use to connect what your brand wants to deliver with what your customer wants to acquire?
While a traditional marketing approach would require you to determine your creative content first and then select the channel, IMC flips this process around by asking first for an understanding of where your customers are. With that knowledge, you can meet them there with content and messaging that is grounded in customer insights.
- Estimate the return on customer investment (ROCI)
Step four focuses on determining ROCI as a result of your marketing and communications. This is the goal of IMC.
Wouldn’t you rather invest in marketing efforts that will yield the most loyal and profitable customers? Prove to senior leaders that you can turn a $100 investment into $1,000 in customer revenue and you’ll never need to fight for budget again.
How to Use:
- Analytics: descriptive, predictive
- Attribution: first, last, and multitouch
- Optimization: A/B tests, control groups
- Budget, allocate, evaluate, and recycle
A true IMC approach requires that you budget at the end, which is the opposite of how most college and university budgeting processes unfold.
Think like an investor and know important financial numbers: customer acquisition cost, retention rate, and the difference between your short-term and long-term returns.
Understand the three C’s:
- Contribution: dollars generated over time
- Commitment: how many dollars you get vs. the competition
- Champions: support, involvement, and advocacy of your brand