Meaning, Features of IMC, Evolution of IMC, Reasons for growth of IMC16th February 2021
The Integrated Marketing Communication seeks to have all promotional and marketing activities of an organization together, project a unified and consistent image of the organization to the target market. It has a centralized messaging function which focuses on a common goal and positioning.
Integrated Marketing Communications is a simple concept. It ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together.
In the 1990s, many companies are moving toward integrated marketing communications (IMC), which involves Coordinating the various promotional elements along with other marketing activities that communicate with a firm’s customers.
According to American Marketing Association Integrated marketing communication is a concept of marketing communication’s planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines; for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations, and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications impact.
It enhances the image of the organization as it sends all customers a consistent message about the company and its brands. The companies, who adopt this integrated marketing program over the traditional method of promotion where all elements of promotion are treated separately, are more effective in communicating all about themselves and their brands in the market place.
Integrated marketing communication calls for a ‘big picture’ approach to planning marketing and promotion programs and coordinating the various communication functions. It requires firms to develop a total marketing communication strategy’ that recognizes how all of a firm’s marketing activities not just promotion, communicate with its customers.
Brand communication is an initiative taken by organizations to make their products and services popular among the end-users. Brand communication goes a long way in promoting products and services among target consumers. The process involves identifying individuals who are best suited to the purchase of products or services (also called target consumers) and promoting the brand among them through any one of the following means:
- Sales Promotion
- Public Relation
- Direct Marketing
- Personal Selling
- Social media
- Horizontal Integration occurs across the marketing mix and across business functions; for example, production, finance, distribution and communications should work together and be conscious that their decisions and actions send messages to customers.
- While different departments such as sales, direct mail and advertising can help each other through Data Integration. This requires a marketing information system which collects and shares relevant data across different departments.
- Vertical Integration means marketing and communications objectives must support the higher-level corporate objectives and corporate missions.
- Meanwhile Internal Integration requires internal marketing keeping all staff informed and motivated about any new developments from new advertisements, to new corporate identities, new service standards, new strategic partners and so on.
- External Integration, on the other hand, requires external partners such as advertising and PR agencies to work closely together to deliver a single seamless solution a cohesive message an integrated message.
Various components of Integrated Marketing Communication:
The Corporate Culture: The features of products and services ought to be in line with the work culture of the organization. Every organization has a vision and it’s important for the marketers to keep in mind the same before designing products and services.
The Foundation: As the name suggests, foundation stage involves detailed analysis of both the product as well as target market. It is essential for marketers to understand the brand, its offerings and end-users. You need to know the needs, attitudes and expectations of the target customers. Keep a close watch on competitor’s activities.
Brand Focus: Brand Focus represents the corporate identity of the brand.
Consumer Experience: Marketers need to focus on consumer experience which refers to what the customers feel about the product. A consumer is likely to pick up a product which has good packaging and looks attractive. Products need to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Organization A‘s vision is to promote green and clean world. Naturally its products need to be eco-friendly and biodegradable, in lines with the vision of the organization.
Communication Tools: Communication tools include various modes of promoting a particular brand such as advertising, direct selling, promoting through social media such as facebook, twitter, orkut and so on.
Integration Tools: Organizations need to keep a regular track on customer feedbacks and reviews. You need to have specific software like customer relationship management (CRM) which helps in measuring the effectiveness of various integrated marketing communications tools.
Promotional Tools: Brands are promoted through various promotional tools such as trade promotions, personal selling and so on. Organizations need to strengthen their relationship with customers and external clients.
Features of IMC
Greater Accountability Asked from the Advertising Agencies:
The producers are demanding greater accountability from advertising agencies by asking them to give instant results. The marketers are also giving an incentive to the advertising agencies for increasing their profitability. Organizations are looking beyond their traditional advertising agencies and turning to other marketing communication firms to work on development of their integrated marketing programs.
Agencies which specialize in internet marketing, direct marketing, media planning, sales promotion and public relations are being used more now. These agencies realize that their future depends upon how able they are in developing their clients marketing program.
Market Place Power with Retail Industry:
There has been a major shift in market place power from manufactures to retailers. The small and middle-sized local retailers have been replaced by regional, national and international chain e.g., Reliance, More, Walmart etc. These retailers demand promotional fees from the manufacturers, which often siphons money away from advertising.
Technologies such as; check-out scanners provide retailers with all the information about the effectiveness of manufacturer’s promotional programs. This had led to the marketers spending more on promotional tools than before. Sales promotion is the tool which is used more than others these days.
Growth of Database Marketing:
Companies in the modern times have extensive databases which contain the names, geographic profiles, demographic profiles, and psychographic profiles of customers. Information about purchasing patterns, financial resources and media preferences of customers is also available in the data bases of companies.
This enables them to target customers through a variety of direct marketing methods such as; e-mails, direct mail, and telemarketing and other direct response methods rather than traditional tools. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs which involve regular and systematic tracking of customer’s preferences and behaviors and modifying product or services to meet their needs are taken up.
Usage of Internet and Social Media to Communicate:
We are into the age of Internet revolution where every moment there are millions of consumers surfing on the Web. Internet has given rise to development and growth of social media which people use to share experiences, content, information and suggestions about products they have used. Today, marketing communication is characterized by usage of social media where there is regular and close interaction with consumers.
Shift in Promotional Expenditure
Traditional media is more expensive and not as target oriented as the new tools of promotion. Consumers are less responsive to traditional media advertising and they may even avoid it by fast forwarding the recorded shows or by changing the channels at the time of commercial breaks. The best way to communicate with target audience is to integrate the brand with movies, shows or events. This is the characteristic which is far away from the traditional marketing tools.
Several shifts in the advertising and media industry have caused IMC to develop into a primary strategy for marketers:
- From media advertising to multiple forms of communication.
- From mass media to more specialized (niche) media, which are centered around specific target audiences.
- From a manufacturer-dominated market to a retailer-dominated, consumer-controlled market.
- From general-focus advertising and marketing to data-based marketing.
- From low agency accountability to greater agency accountability, particularly in advertising.
- From traditional compensation to performance-based compensation (increased sales or benefits to the company).
- From limited Internet access to 24/7 Internet availability and access to goods and services.
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