Managing the Integrated Marketing Communications Process

The American Marketing Association defines integrated marketing communications (IMC) as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” When done well, this planning process evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines and combines them seamlessly to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact of messages.

The wide range of communication tools, messages, and audiences available to marketers makes it imperative that companies move toward integrated marketing communications. They must adopt a 360-degree view of con­sumers to fully understand all the different ways communications can affect behavior.37

To facilitate one-stop shopping for marketers, media companies and ad agencies have acquired promotion agencies, public relations firms, package-design consultancies, Web site developers, social media experts, and direct-mail houses. They are redefining themselves as communications companies that help clients improve their overall communications effectiveness by offering strategic and practical advice on many forms of communication.

These expanded capabilities make it easier for marketers to assemble various media properties—as well as related marketing services—in an integrated communication program. Table 19.3 lists the different lines of businesses for marketing and advertising services giant WPP, for example.

1. COORDINATING MEDIA

Media coordination can occur across and within media types, but marketers should combine personal and nonpersonal communications channels through multiple-vehicle, multiple-stage campaigns to achieve maximum impact and increase message reach and impact.

Promotions and online solicitations can be more effective when combined with advertising, for example.38 The awareness and attitudes created by advertising campaigns can increase the success of more direct sales pitches.

Advertising can convey the positioning of a brand and benefit from online display advertising or search engine marketing that sends a stronger call to action.39

Most companies are coordinating their online and offline communications activities. Web addresses in ads (especially print ads) and on packages allow people to more fully explore a company’s products, find store locations, and get more product or service information. Even if consumers don’t order online, marketers can use Web sites in ways that drive them into stores to buy.

2. IMPLEMENTING IMC

Many international clients such as IBM (Ogilvy), Colgate (WPP’s Red Fuse), and GE (BBDO) have opted to place a substantial portion of their communications work with one full-service agency. The result is integrated and more effective marketing communications at a much lower total cost.

Integrated marketing communications can produce stronger message consistency and help build brand equity and create greater sales impact.40 It forces management to think about every way the customer comes in contact with the company, how the company communicates its positioning, the relative importance of each vehicle, and timing issues. It gives someone the responsibility—where none existed before—to unify the company’s brand images and messages as they are sent through thousands of company activities. IMC should improve the company’s ability to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time and in the right place.41 “Marketing Memo: How Integrated Is Your IMC Program?” provides some guidelines.

Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.

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