You put a lot of effort into crafting your marketing communications. So, you want to ensure they succeed, right? For that, you need integrated marketing communications.

By ensuring all communication mediums work in harmony rather than discord, it ensures delivery of a more powerful message.

What is integrated marketing communications?

“A strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communication programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects, and other targeted, relevant external and internal audiences”
Schultz and Kitchen, 2004

Essentially, integrated marketing communications is about ensuring different components of your marketing plan work together and that different channels reflect the same theme. It involves integrating different elements of the marketing communications to ensure they work together.

What elements of marketing communications should be integrated?

Everything! This includes:

  • Advertising
  • Digital marketing, including websites(s) and social media
  • Direct marketing
  • Sales promotion
  • Personal selling
  • Public relations

Why use integrated marketing communications?

  • A sum is greater than its parts. A single unified message is more impactful than a range of isolated and disjointed messages. In contrast, disjointed messages may confuse, frustrate and arouse anxiety in customers.
  • A consistent message. Without coordination, different sources may send different messages resulting in conflicting brand images. If using different agencies, without an integrated marketing communications plan, each agency will likely create their own marketing message which may not complement one another.
  • Help customers through the buying process by connecting your messages, and timing each one to be received in sequence. By continually conveying the same message in different places and through different media, consumers are more likely to process the information. They will get more exposure to your message, increasing the likelihood of making a decision to purchase.
  • Send a clear message to your target audience. Using integrated marketing communications, messages are more consistent, which makes them more credible and trustworthy. Consistent messages also help nurture long-term relationships with customers.
  • Save resources. Integrated marketing communications eliminates duplication, reduces agency fees, and saves time.
  • Consumers are evermore powerful and demanding. They expect a consistent experience across all touchpoints. You need an integrated approach to deliver this experience.
  • Your competitors are using it. You need to use integrated marketing communications to keep up with your competitors who are using it. If they are not, get an edge over the competition by using a single unified message that breaks through their more disparate communications.
  • Important for effective branding. Integrated marketing communications plays an important role in developing and sustaining brand identity and equity. It enables you to deliver a clear, consistent, and compelling message about your organization and your brand.

Integration goes beyond the communication elements

Other aspects of integration include:

  • Integrating across business functions. Marketing communications should work together with production, finance, distribution and communications.
  • Data Integration. A marketing information system should share data across different departments.
  • Integrating objectives. Marketing and communications objectives should support broader corporate objectives.
  • External Integration. External partners should work closely together to deliver a single cohesive message.

Successful integrated marketing communications requires a clear, consistent and consolidated message. One that is so powerful that it breaks through the noise of thousands of other promotional messages pushed upon consumers everyday. This is not easy to achieve. It requires careful research and planning, and skillful coordination. So, take time to plan how you will incorporate integrated marketing communications into your marketing.

In addition, ensure your integrated marketing communications are truly integrated. In today’s digital age, it’s sometimes easy to neglect the traditional channels of communication. Although digital marketing is an integral aspect of any smart marketing plan, offline channels still represent a powerful outlet for reaching consumers. Communications via digital channels should therefore complement rather than substitute traditional channels of communication.

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