Integrated Marketing Communications – Is it for everyone?

Integrated Marketing Communication is a marketing model that encompasses building consumer relationships with clear, consistent and impactful messages that are data-driven and consumer focused. The concept of IMC is to produce synergy among marketing efforts to influence and affect behavior in specific target audiences. There are five key features of IMC that effectively build an impactful marketing strategy.  First, all IMC efforts should be consumer focused.  Thus, marketers must acknowledge that consumers are in control and they must understand their attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. Since consumers are becoming increasingly fragmented, IMC is driven by consumer data and analysis. Secondly, all forms of potential contact must be used. Brands must be present where the consumer is; these touch points are always important, even if they are all not equally as engaging. Thirdly, all messages must be consistent and have a clear voice. This is where synergy comes into play. Uncoordinated messages will send an ambiguous message to consumers; coordinated and consistent messages will produce synergy. IMC seeks to build relationships with consumers. This fourth key feature is important because without it one may lose consumers. If you build strong relationships with consumers, the relationships will most likely last and be mutually beneficial. Last but not least, the fifth key feature of IMC is to influence and affect consumer behavior. Affecting behavior is the ultimate goal for any marketing communication strategy; if a desired behavior is not achieved, the strategy was then a failure.  Together, all five of these features produce maximum impact and synergy.

As an advertiser, it is important to embrace IMC because all communication efforts must be clear, consistent and impactful. If advertising efforts are inconsistent and unclear, messages will not be impactful. It is also important for advertisers to be individually consumer-focused rather than mass media focused so that they can segment audiences appropriately for greater engagement. It can be difficult to implement IMC without necessary diverse skills sets. It can cost additional money and human resources to effectively embrace and implement IMC; therefore, the agency must have approach IMC with an open mind.

Advertising agencies may encounter many problems that would impede their efforts of becoming a full IMC agency. First, as mentioned above, an agency may not have money resources to embrace IMC fully. Employees may not possess the skill-set or knowledge to effectively manage and implement IMC efforts. Consequently, agencies would need to resort to hiring more employees to execute IMC. An advertising agency most often will only execute a specific area of marketing communication efforts – advertising. With that said, it would be hard to implement IMC if an agency is only overseeing advertising efforts. Public relations, marketing and advertising specialists would need to be housed at the same agency to effectively coordinate all IMC efforts.

Though IMC may not be for everyone, it can certainly be said that implementing an integrated marketing communications approach to organization/company communication efforts will have a positive long-term effect – for the company and the audience.

Looking for schools that teach IMC at the master’s level? 

Consider the following:

IMC Online @ West Virginia University: http://imc.wvu.edu/

Northwestern University – Medill: http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/imc/

Loyola University: http://www.luc.edu/gsb/academics_msimc.shtml

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