The Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is the process of developing and implementing a communication strategy that integrates all marketing channels and activities. The idea behind IMC is that it provides a more comprehensive approach to marketing by combining all of the different parts of marketing into one cohesive strategy.
American Marketing Association (AMA) defines 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.”
It is a marketing concept which unifies brand message to make it consistent across all media and aligns the marketing and communication objectives with the business objectives. Integrated marketing communication is also a customer-centric approach which ensures that all the brand messages and values received by the customer for a product or service are relevant and consistent over a period of time.
Under integrated marketing communication, different ways of promoting a brand are integrated together for maximum effectiveness and better results. It helps to ensure that the customer receives the right information at the right time and right place. Moreover, it helps to make sure that all forms of communication are connected and integrated together to promote the business.
Advantages of IMC
- IMC provides a unique product/service experience communicated through modern and creative marketing campaigns.
- IMC improves efficiency in the marketing function as it incorporates all other isolated partitioning functions into one. Such integration delivers effective marketing strategies.
- IMC plays an important role in building close customer relationships. Such strategies provide what is expected and needed by the customer in the right quantity and manner.
- IMC focuses on sales, brand image and customer satisfaction dimensions equitably. All other functions integrates to maintain all these dimensions.
- Integrated approach remarks on a strong, favorable, positive and unique brand association of products/services in the memory of customers.
- IMC provides information to the customers about what they want and seek and provide necessary information about their needs.
Disadvantages of IMC
- IMC strategy is not easy to develop and implement.
- Integration involves various functions, departments and individuals which may involve group control issues, resource allocation issues and flexibility issues.
- IMC strategies involve huge arrangements, which requires a huge budget and effort. There is always an issue of budgetary restriction.
- Integration reduces accountability. It is difficult to quantify the effort due to integration. In IMC, it is difficult to measure the return and risk of individual effort.
- Integrated Marketing Communication is more a strategic approach rather than a tactical one. Application and implementation aspects are weak.
Integrated Marketing Communication Process
Elements of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)
There are different elements of integrated marketing communication which operate at different levels of their efficiency. The following are the elements of Integrated Marketing Communication:
Advertising is any paid promotion of a product, service or idea in order to attract the attention, engagement and interest of the consumers and ultimately increase the sales. Various media such as television, newspapers, magazines, web pages, billboards, videotape, etc. are used for advertising the product or service. Advertising is one of the most common and important ways of providing information to the consumers and making them update about new products and services in the market. Similarly, advertising influences consumer’s views, opinions and perception regarding the products and services and persuades them to buy. It is one of the ways of creating a unique brand image among the consumers.
Sales promotion is one of the effective ways of encouraging the consumers to buy a certain product or service by providing various types of short-term incentives such as distribution of free samples, coupons, discounts for higher purchase, premium give away, two-for deals, free shipping, sales contest and others. It helps to draw the attention of the consumers and generate immediate sales. Moreover, it helps to engage the customers and promote the products and services to a larger audience.
Direct marketing refers to the way of directly communicating with the target customers through a variety of activities such as direct mailing, telephone, fax, internet, telemarketing, etc. The main purpose of direct marketing is to create personal touch and connection with the customers so that they will respond and purchase products or services from the company. With the increase in online shopping and reliance on credit cards, it has become necessary for marketers to connect with the customers directly. Companies can send discount coupons, catalogs, postcards, letters on special days to approach customers directly which also helps to retain them.
Personal selling involves face-to-face interaction with the buyer where the seller convinces the buyer to buy their product or service. Salespeople present presentations about the products, answer the queries of customers and take orders from them. This type of selling is useful in building long-term relationships with the customers. Similarly, the seller can modify and customize the message as per the needs of the buyer. However, this method of selling can be expensive since the company has to give commission to the salesperson for every product they sell.
In simple words, public relation refers to those programs which are directed towards maintaining a sound relationship between the organization and the public. Companies can evaluate public attitudes, views, opinions, execute a program related to earning public trust and understanding, introduce policies and procedures with public interest and others to build healthy public relations. Likewise, they can participate in community work, sponsor social events, raise funds for needy people to improve the brand image. Public relation is one of the strong communication tools which helps to earn high credibility and trust in the society.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is the process of promoting business through various social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp and others. In today’s world, social media has become one of the major promotional tools for advertising products and services because everyone is in social media and companies can capture the massive attention of their target audience through social media marketing. They can interact with customers, make them update about new products, engage and persuade them to purchase their products through social media. Social media marketing is proving to be the future of promotions as they have the ability to be highly interactive and reach a larger audience.