Understanding Why an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan is Important...

What Has Changed and Why is an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy Important?

Several shifts in the advertising and media industry have caused IMC to develop into a primary strategy for marketers:

1.From media advertising to multiple forms of communication.

2.From mass media to more specialized (niche) media, which are centered on specific target audiences.

3.From a manufacturer-dominated market to a retailer-dominated, consumer-controlled market.

4.From general-focus advertising and marketing to data-based marketing.

5.From low agency accountability to greater agency accountability, particularly in advertising.

6.From traditional compensation to performance-based compensation (increased sales or benefits to the company).

7.From limited Internet access to 24/7 Internet availability and access to goods and services.

Wikapedia says it best when it defines the difference below:

Not PRODUCT, but CONSUMER

You have to understand what consumer's wants and needs are. Times have changed and you can no longer sell whatever you can make. The product characteristics have to match the specifics of what someone wants to buy. And part of what the consumer is buying is the personal "buying experience."

Not PRICE, but COST

Understand the consumer's cost to satisfy the want or need. The product price may be only one part of the consumer's cost structure. Often it is the cost of time to drive somewhere, the cost of conscience of what you buy, the cost of guilt for not treating the kids, the investment a consumer is willing to make to avoid risk, etc.

Not PLACE, but CONVENIENCE

As above, turn the standard logic around. Think convenience of the buying experience and then relate that to a delivery mechanism. Consider all possible definitions of "convenience" as it relates to satisfying the consumer's wants and needs. Convenience may include aspects of the physical or virtual location, access ease, transaction service time, and hours of availability.

Not PROMOTION, but COMMUNICATION

Communicate - many mediums working together to present a unified message with a feedback mechanism to make the communication two-way. And be sure to include an understanding of non-traditional mediums, such as word of mouth and how it can influence your position in the consumer's mind. How many ways can a customer hear (or see) the same message through the course of the day, each message reinforcing the earlier images? 


Consistency is Key!

The goal of selecting the elements of proposed integrated marketing communications is to create a campaign that is effective and consistent across media platforms. Some marketers may want only ads with greatest breadth of appeal: the executions that, when combined, provide the greatest number of attention-getting, branded, and motivational moments. Others may only want ads with the greatest depth of appeal: the ads with the greatest number of attention-getting, branded, and motivational points within each.

Although integrated marketing communications is more than just an advertising campaign, the bulk of marketing dollars is spent on the creation and distribution of advertisements. Hence, the bulk of the research budget is also spent on these elements of the campaign. Once the key marketing pieces have been tested, the researched elements can then be applied to other contact points: letterhead, packaging, logistics, customer service training, and more, to complete the IMC cycle.

One common type of integrated marketing communication is personal selling. Personal selling can be defined as "face to face selling in which a seller attempts to persuade a buyer to make a purchase."

Understanding Who Your Customer Really Is?

A major task that guides the way in creating an effective Integrated Marketing Communications plan is the analysis. “Analysis is the process marketers use to identify target audiences for a company’s goods and services and the communication strategies needed to reach these audiences.”  A message sent by a marketer has a greater likelihood of achieving the intended results if the marketer has performed good analysis and possesses accurate information pertaining to the target audience. There are five steps in developing appropriate analysis:


Conduct market analysis

•Competitors

•Opportunities

•Target markets

•Customers

•Product positioning


Establish objectives

•Develop brand awareness

•Increase category demand

•Change customer belief or attitude

•Enhance purchase actions

•Encourage repeat purchases

•Build customer traffic

•Enhance firm image

•Increase market share

•Increase sales

•Reinforce purchase decisions


Create budget 

Several factors influence the relationship between expenditures and sales or action:

•The goal

•Threshold effects

•Carryover effects

•Wear-out effects

•Decay effects

•Random events


Prepare strategies


Match tactics with strategies

Throughout these steps, marketers should consistently review and analyze the actions and tools that major competitors are utilizing.



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