Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a powerful concept that will put your business on the map and bring in more sales.
If you are a smaller business, you may not have heard of this term so we will spend a little time breaking it down before diving into its benefits. Additionally, IMC is closely related to multi-channel attribution and omnichannel marketing but there are some important differences. By the end of this blog, you’ll know exactly what IMC is, why it works and how to use it. Let’s get started!
What is IMC?
We will start with what integrated marketing communications is not. Above I introduced multi-channel attribution and omnichannel marketing. While these two concepts are related to integrated marketing communications, they are not the same.
Multi-channel attribution is simply using different channels to reach your audience. If you have any combination of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email list, or a website, you are already practicing multi-channel marketing.
Omnichannel marketing takes multi-channel attribution to the next level. Well executed omnichannel marketing ensures a particular message is carried across all of your platforms.
Related blog post: Omni-Channel Marketing: Definition & Examples
Integrated marketing communication incorporates multi-channel attribution and omnichannel marketing to create a cohesive story for your business, no matter what platform your customers use. Picture this; you set up a small business and are solely responsible for most of the marketing efforts. In this situation, the message, language, and public image are easy to maintain and keep consistent because everything is centralized.
After a lot of hard work your efforts pay off and your business expands to become a larger company. Managing the marketing by yourself is no longer realistic and you need to bring in some help. For example, you might decide to employ several sales teams, offline and online marketing teams, external marketing agencies and so on. With a bigger team, you can expand the number of platforms you are on and potentially reach a larger audience. With so many people involved, however, your message risks becoming watered down and you may struggle to maintain consistency.
To stay effective in your marketing, you need focus on finding a way to ensure you’re creating a cohesive message that can be used on any platform. This way, you can avoid confusion and maintain or improve your target audience’s confidence in you.
Roles of Integrated Marketing Communications
The roles of integrated marketing communications are to increase brand awareness and reach a larger audience. While it is possible to see returns just by implementing multichannel marketing , or omnichannel marketing, you will see greater long-term results with IMC. This strategy is most effective for managing robust sales teams but there is a lot it can do for small businesses. Adopting this approach early on will eliminate the need to overhaul a slower sales system in the future, saving you time and money. Additionally, once you have a solid IMC strategy constructed, you will not need to spend much time on maintenance.
Let’s dive into some benefits you can expect by using IMC.
Benefits of Using Integrated Marketing Communications
Implementing an integrated marketing communications approach into your business strategy will create long-term effects that boost your returns and position you as a leader in your field. The following section will review some of the top ways utilizing IMC can directly improve your business.
1. Improved Results
In traditional marketing approaches, you typically find high levels of separation between the different teams. This results in press releases, advertising, direct marketing and sales promotions that are all over the place and in some cases, conflict with one another. On the outside, this comes off as disorganized and even chaotic to consumers.
Think of it like this; Your company makes delicious food. Your marketing strategies determine how your food (products) are presented. When you lack cohesion amongst your marketing teams it is as if someone took all that tasty food and just threw it into a fridge. The food’s taste doesn’t change but its presentation makes it unappealing and a little suspect. Only the most diligent customers will wade through the mess to find their lunch. Most will quickly get overwhelmed and simply move on to another brand with a clearer message.
An integrated approach brings your marketing teams together to form one big and beautiful marketing machine. The information released by the press is backed up by blog posts, articles, external marketing agencies, sales teams etc. The result is a harmonious message that contributes to customer confidence.
2. Improved Brand Image
Have you ever heard the saying “you eat with your eyes?” Well, it applies to more than just food. Having a brand message that is not only consistent but also uniform across style guides, logos, voice, headers etc. is essential for improving brand image. Consistency builds trust and lets consumers know you care about your product.
Utilizing IMC will ensure your brand’s elements line up seamlessly. This unified approach will maximize your market impact and carve out your niche or industry.
3. Cost Effective
As a successful business owner you already know that reducing unnecessary costs as much as possible is essential to survival. This is why, if, for no other reason, you should care about implementing an integrated marketing campaign.
First, you will reduce the costs of purchasing or creating images and copy for different media. Simply use the same content across your various platforms to reduce design, copywriting and photography costs.
Let’s take a look at a specific situation you may currently be facing. Video production for different marketing media such as television, YouTube, and other social media platforms can be very costly due to all of the moving parts. One way to avoid this problem is to use an external communication supplier. This will help you reduce agency fees, because you’ll work with a single firm that offers integrated marketing communication services.
Second, you will save time for your marketing department, which can then be put towards creating higher quality content to boost your visibility and drive sales.
When your marketing team has less original content to create each week they can spend the time to craft thoughtful and engaging messages that will prompt consumer action. Your sales will improve along with your content quality.
4. Increased Morale
So far we have discussed a lot of the external benefits IMC can have on your business. A great IMC strategy can also lead to several great internal benefits, one of which is increased morale. With less on their plate, a bigger focus on quality and a need for consistency across the board, your teams will need to be in better contact with each other.
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Those open lines of communication will prompt teams to understand each other better and come together to solve problems. When your team works together, they’ll become one well-oiled machine that is capable of taking up any campaign challenge. In turn, they will undoubtedly achieve great results, which will act as an excellent morale booster for your employees.
5. Improved Efficiency
Another internal benefit is improved efficiency. A strong IMC approach will create a dynamic and well-connected marketing team. Part of creating that team is ensuring that there is a communications line that members can use to quickly reach any and all departments.
With streamlined communication channels and a unified goal, your business will see a reduction in time wasted from repetitive messages or spent trying to contact others for information. The result will be an increase in productivity. That means more money in your pocket!
If you are currently using several different marketing agencies, a useful IMC strategy could look like choosing to work with a single marketing agency that specializes in providing an integrated marketing approach. This way, you’ll save money on agency fees as well as time cost compared to when you’re dealing with multiple providers.
Don’t fool yourself into believing your customers will see all of your advertising. In fact, experts claim that potential clients need to hear your message at least seven times before even considering your product.
This is why IMC is essential for your business. A customer who sees your billboard by the roadside might never see your TV commercials, hear your radio ads, or even see your digital ads.
If you apply an integrated marketing communications approach you will ensure your message remains the same, no matter the type of medium your ads are using. A consistent message means none of your potential customers or clients will miss out on what you’re offering.
Also, don’t forget that through this kind of diversity, you are able reach more of your customers via their preferred platforms. For instance, different demographics prefer their messages on various platforms such as email, text message, social media or podcast. All in all, this type of marketing technique will help you reach out to a greater audience, thanks to its diversity.
7. Reduced Confusion
Confusion is one of the quickest ways to lose customers so avoiding it at all cost is essential to maintaining a strong brand identity. With integrated marketing, buyer’s confusion can be significantly reduced resulting in more closed sales. Consumers will receive a clear and consistent message from your brand leaving little doubt as to what sales or promotions you are running and where they can buy your products. Internally, your team will not have to worry about accidentally creating conflicting messages, thereby aiding in productivity and project turnaround.
Since IMC helps buyers get all the information needed about special offers and new product releases, consumers can then purchase the products as quickly as possible. And, they can avoid competition from other brands.
8. Maintained Focus
As mentioned earlier, IMC is also another way of maintaining a good working relationship within your organization. Your employees will get the message clearly, as well as the goals, and work towards achieving them.
When you sync all the parties within your company, you’ll create an impactful campaign. What’s more, you’ll communicate the same message both internally and externally, which will enhance the chances of making good returns on your investment.
As you can see, setting up an integrated marketing communications strategy can take your business and sales to the next level. Not only will it boost your external image but your internal teams will experience multiple benefits as well. With an effective IMC, savings will go up and cost will go down, leading to a win-win for you and your team.
Setting up effective integrated marketing communications takes time and effort but the payout makes this a strategy one you cannot afford to overlook. With proper planning, you will reap the benefits discussed in this post and more.
So, if you’ve already set up your small business or you’re planning to make changes to your existing business, your focus should be on communicating effectively to your audience. This can be done by adopting an IMC approach.
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As the founder of Joshua Lyons Marketing, Josh Lyons primarily focuses on business development. He has studied and practiced marketing since 2008 and launched his first company (a marketing agency in Pensacola, Florida) in 2015. When he's not writing blog posts, recording podcasts or consulting, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He loves listening to audiobooks and checking out different coffee shops. He also enjoys fire juggling, amigurumi, travel and swing dancing; which is how he met his wife.