The ultimate goal of IMC is to unite all aspects of marketing communications so they work together seamlessly and harmoniously.
State the most common goals of integrated marketing communications campaigns
- Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer and are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforces the brand’s core message.
- Some of the most common goals of IMC campaigns include increasing brand awareness, generating sales and reinforcing repeat purchases.
- Only changes in the marketplace, new competitive forces, or new promotional opportunities should cause companies to alter strategies and reassess IMC goals.
- integrated: composed and coordinated to form a whole
- fragmentation: The act of fragmenting or something fragmented; disintegration.
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer. Customers are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforce the brand’s core message. The ultimate goal is to make all aspects of marketing communication– advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling, online communications and social media –work together as a unified force, rather than in isolation. This synergy between different marketing elements maximizes their cost effectiveness.
The cost effectiveness of mass media due to fragmentation has forced integrated marketing communications to the forefront of modern marketing. As consumers spend more time online and on mobile devices, the goal for marketing teams should be for all exposures of the brand to tie together so they are more likely to be remembered. Increasingly the strategies of brands cannot be understood by looking solely at their advertising. Instead they can be understood by seeing how all aspects of their communications ecosystem work together and in particular how communications are personalized for each customer and react in real time.
Common IMC Objectives
In addition to considering recent market, consumer and technological shifts, brands must assess their marketing budget and target audience when setting IMC goals. An IMC strategy with a budget of $2 million will be radically different in size, scope and reach than a marketing budget of only $2,000. Thus, smaller businesses with tiny IMC budgets may rely heavily on social media advertising and word-of-mouth networks to increase brand presence and generate new leads, rather than more expensive television and billboard advertising.
Despite varying budgets, product features and benefits, and consumer behaviors, organizations typically set and work towards the following goals when implementing IMC strategies:
- To develop brand awareness
- To increase consumer or business demand for a product category
- To change or influence customer beliefs or attitudes
- To enhance purchase actions
- To encourage repeat purchases
- To build customer traffic to physical stores, websites or other marketing channels
- To enhance firm/brand image
- To increase market share
- To increase sales
- To reinforce purchase decisions
IMC strategies may seek to achieve one, many or all of these objectives throughout the course of a campaign. Once strategies have been implemented, they are not changed unless major new events occur. Only changes in the marketplace, new competitive forces, or new promotional opportunities should cause companies to alter strategies and reassess IMC goals.
Determining a Budget
Marketing budgets aid in the planning of operations by forcing managers to prioritize activities and consider how conditions may change.
Explain how the components of IMC influence the allocation of funds for a marketing budget
- Budgeting also helps coordinate the activities of the organization by compelling managers to examine relationships between their own operation and those of other departments.
- Two big budgeting decisions should be resolved up front: how shall marketing efforts be funded, and who will benefit from the new program?
- Components of IMC include: the foundation, the corporate culture, the brand focus, consumer experience, communications tools, promotional tools, and integration tools.
- brand: A name, symbol, logo, or other item used to distinguish a product, a service, or its provider.
Determining a Budget
As with all business activities, marketing budgets help the planning of actual operations by forcing managers to prioritize activities and consider how conditions might change. Marketing also encourages managers to take steps now, so they can deal with problems before they arise. It also helps coordinate the activities of the organization by compelling managers to examine relationships between their own operation and those of other departments, which is a key component of integrated marketing. The essential purposes of budgeting include:
- To control resources
- To communicate plans to various responsibility center managers
- To motivate managers to strive to achieve budget goals
- To evaluate the performance of managers
- To provide visibility into the company’s performance
Marketing plans are resource driven and they affect the budget. Therefore, two big budgeting decisions should be resolved up front:
- How shall these efforts be funded? For example, 70% will be reallocated through cost reductions by consolidating programs and 30% will come from new funding.
- Who will benefit from the new program? For example, 70% will advance the reputation of the company and 30% will build “steeples” – the critical core themes that make a difference, which are usually only built one at a time.
Integrated Marketing Communication Components
When determining a budget for an integrated marketing plan, it is important for managers to understand the components of IMC in order to allocate funds properly. These include:
- The foundation – This component is based on a strategic understanding of the product and market. This includes changes in technology, buyer attitudes, and behavior, as well as anticipated moves by competitors.
- The corporate culture – Increasingly brands are seen as indivisible from the vision, capabilities, personality, and culture of the corporation.
- The brand focus – This is the logo, corporate identity, tagline, style, and core message of the brand.
- Consumer experience – This includes the design of the product and its packaging, the product experience (for instance in a retail store), and service.
- Communications tools – This includes all modes of advertising, direct marketing, and online communications including social media.
- Promotional tools – This includes trade promotions; consumer promotions; personal selling, database marketing, and customer relations management; public relations and sponsorship programs.
- Integration tools – This is software that enables the tracking of customer behavior and campaign effectiveness. This includes customer relationship management (CRM) software, web analytics, marketing automation, and inbound marketing software.
Continuous monitoring of performance against predetermined targets is essential in achieving effective & efficient integrated marketing communications.
List the most important analyses used to measure marketing performance
- It is important to put both quantities and timescales into marketing strategies.
- The most important elements of marketing performance include sales analysis, market share analysis, expense analysis, and financial analysis.
- Indirect measures like market research, tracking lost business and tracking customer complaints can also indicate the organization’s performance over a long period of time.
- segment share: market share in the specific, targeted segment.
- relative share: market share in relation to the market leaders.
The final stage of any marketing planning process is to establish targets or standards so that progress can be monitored. Accordingly, it is important to put both quantities and timescales into marketing objectives and corresponding strategies. – for example, to capture 20 percent by value of the market within two years.
Continuous monitoring of performance against predetermined targets is of utmost importance. More important is the enforced discipline of a regular formal review. As with forecasts, the best or most realistic planning cycle will revolve around a quarterly review. Best of all – at least in terms of the quantifiable aspects of the plans – is a quarterly rolling review. This involves planning one full year ahead each new quarter. While this absorbs more planning resources, it also ensures that plans use the latest information. Moreover, both the plans and their implementation tend to be more realistic.
The most important elements of marketing performance which are normally tracked include:
- Sales Analysis: Sophisticated organizations track sales in terms of “sales variance” – the deviation from the target figures – which allows an immediate picture of deviations to become evident.
- Market Share Analysis: Market share is an important metric to track. Though absolute sales might grow in an expanding market, a firm’s share of the market can decrease, which bodes ill for future sales when the market starts to drop. Market share is tracked through parameters including overall market share, segment share, relative share, annual fluctuation rate of market share, and the specific market sharing of customers.
- Expense Analysis: The key ratio to watch in this area is usually the “marketing expense to sales ratio. ” This may be broken down into elements including advertising to sales and sales administration to sales.
- Financial Analysis: In theory, the “bottom line” of all marketing activities should be net profit. Key ratios include gross contribution to net profit, gross profit to return on investment, and net contribution to profit on sales. There can be considerable benefit in comparing these figures with those achieved by other organizations, especially those in the same industry.
The above performance analyses concentrate on quantitative measures directly related to short-term performance. However, there are a number of indirect measures tracking customer attitudes which can also indicate the organization’s performance over a longer period of time. These include market research, lost business and customer complaints.
The Growing Importance of Word of Mouth
Because of the increased role of sharing – or online “word of mouth” – the way many products and services are marketed has changed.
Define the growing role of word-of-mouth in integrated marketing communications
- Marketing was once seen as a one way relationship, with firms broadcasting their offerings and value proposition.
- The goal of an organization is to create and maintain communication with its own employees and customers.
- To understand new forms of word of mouth marketing involves knowing the right touch points to use to reach consumers and understanding how and where they consume different types of media.
- Regression analysis: a statistical technique for estimating the relationships among variables.
The Growing Importance of Word of Mouth
The Internet has changed the way business is done. The variables of segmentation, targeting, and positioning are addressed differently. Because of the increased role of sharing – or online “word of mouth” – the way new products and services are marketed has changed, even though the aim of business in bringing economic and social values remain the same. Indeed, the bottom line of increasing revenue and profit are still the same. Marketing has evolved to include more connectedness, due to the new characteristics brought in by the Internet. Marketing was once seen as a one way relationship, with firms broadcasting their offerings and value proposition. Now it is seen more as a conversation between marketers and customers.
The starting point of the integrated marketing communications (IMC) process is the marketing mix that includes different types of marketing, advertising, and sales efforts. Without a complete IMC plan, there is no integration or harmony between client and customers. The goal of an organization is to create and maintain communication with its own employees and customers. Using outside-in thinking, integrated marketing communications is a data -driven approach that focuses on identifying consumer insights and developing a strategy with the right online and offline combination of channels to forge a stronger brand to consumer relationship. This involves knowing the right touch points to use to reach consumers and understanding how and where they consume different types of media. Regression analysis and customer lifetime value are key data elements in this approach.
Several shifts in the advertising and media industry have caused IMC to develop into a primary strategy for marketers:
- From media advertising to multiple forms of communication
- From mass media to more specialized media, which are centered on specific target audiences
- From a manufacturer-dominated market to a retailer-dominated, consumer-controlled market
- From general-focus advertising and marketing to data-based marketing
- From low agency accountability to greater agency accountability, particularly in advertising
- From traditional compensation to performance-based compensation
- From limited Internet access to 24/7 Internet availability and access to goods and services
Moreover, this new “word of mouth” form of marketing can bring benefits to a company; such as:
- It can create competitive advantages, boost sales and profits, while saving money, time, and stress.
- IMC wraps communications around customers and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process. The organization simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue, and nurtures its relationship with customers.
- This “relationship marketing” cements a bond of loyalty with customers which can protect them from the inevitable onslaught of competition. The ability to keep a customer for life is a powerful competitive advantage.
- IMC also increases profits through increased effectiveness.
- Carefully linked messages also help buyers by giving timely reminders, updated information and special offers which, when presented in a planned sequence, help them move comfortably through the stages of their buying process.
- IMC also makes messages more consistent and therefore more credible. This reduces risk in the mind of the buyer which, in turn, shortens the search process and helps to dictate the outcome of brand comparisons.
- Finally, IMC saves money as it eliminates duplication in areas such as graphics and photography since they can be shared and used in say, advertising, exhibitions, and sales literature.