Dr Brian’s Marketing Communications spotlight: What is IMC?

Dr. Brian Monger, CEO of MAANZ, columnist, Marketing Tech contributor and editorial advisor, penned an article back in the autumn around the subject of integrated marketing communication. That is, honing every single communication tool and avenue within a business so that everything lines up to point, arrow straight, along a predefined communication strategy.

IMC strategy begins with a thorough understanding of the target stakeholders, he wrote, the brand, its competition, and many other internal and external factors. Then marketers select specific MarCom tools to achieve their communication objectives. After implementation, they measure execution effectiveness, make needed adjustments, and evaluate the results. Many IMC experts agree that it should:

1) Be more strategic than executional (i.e., more than just about ‘one voice, one look’),

2) Be about more than just advertising and sales promotion messages,

3) Include two-way as well as one-way communication, and

4) Be results driven.

The article provoked a really good discussion among Marketing Communications group members, with a number of people wading in with their informed views.

Here’s a brief selection of your comments:

Stephen Higdon from Texas had identified a deficiency in many companies. “The one area where I see vast gaps in this concept is the inclusion of customer service and sales staff into the mix. It seems that marketing professionals ignore those two channels when developing the brand,” he said. “To truly have a fully cross channel concept, we have to include all the sales channels.”

Mark Steffenson from Boston took this further, having observed a similar disconnect from a sales point of view. Banding is what marketing does, he said, while the brand is the experience the customer gets from the product and the service.

“Take Fedex for example. Their brand is defined by the fact that they do what they promise,” he wrote. “They guarantee your package will be delivered when they say it will. The ‘branding’ just reinforces that.”

Alessandra Migliavacca lamented that too often, companies were more interested in quick wins, and weren’t willing to put the 360° view necessary to “communicate with every action”.

 

“Personally I think companies forget who the target audience is when it comes to marketing,” wrote Pattie Davis. “When doing an integrated marketing plan you must consider the audience for each campaign.”

 

Melvin Young was in total agreement. “A communications aim cannot be established without a profile of your desired target audiences and a clear understanding of yours brand's positioning to ensure that all messaging and executions reinforces your brand promise/positioning and captures/speaks to the lifestyle, attitudes and behaviours of your audience.”

Remind your audience at every single touch point about special promotions on other channels or service subscription, advised Boston based marketing expert C. Dianne Sloan. “Now you are showing the audience that you are valuable,” she wrote, “making a more compelling case for your target audience to keep in touch with you.”

Bill Ayotte from Toronto had further advice to add. “With IMC I have found that segmenting customers in certain groups or needs you can tailor your communication efforts to better serve the needs of the customers and the end result is more profitability for the company,” he wrote.

There’s plenty more wisdom to be had in the full discussion.

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