Why It Matters: Promotion: Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

Why demonstrate how organizations use integrated marketing communication (IMC) to support their marketing strategies?

The fourth P, promotion, focuses on communicating with target audiences about something: a product, service, organization, idea, or brand. Communication is how you let people know about your offering (product) and why it matters, how much it costs (price), and where to find it (place).

A very wide array of tools is available today to help marketers communicate with their target audiences. Selecting the right tools for the job and combining them into a successful marketing effort is a critically important task for modern marketers. In fact, it has a special name: integrated marketing communication (IMC).

The best way to start learning about IMC is to see it in action.

As you watch the following videos, consider the following questions:

  1. Who is the target of this IMC effort?
  2. What core message is being communicated?
  3. How many and which communication tools are being used?
  4. How does this IMC activity turn people into active participants instead of remaining passive audience members?
  5. How is the whole impact of this marketing effort more than just the sum of the individual parts?

IMC Example #1: Small Business Saturday

In 2010, American Express teamed up with millions of small businesses to create a marketing event that quickly became a tradition during the holiday shopping season in the U.S.: Small Business Saturday. To make it successful, American Express and its small business network had to create something out of nothing and then convince consumers to show up.

IMC Example #2: Ariel Fashion Shoot

A jam-squirting robot. A busy mall. Designer clothes. Facebook. No, this isn’t the plot of a sci-fi action movie targeting “tween” girls. It was, at the time in 2011, the largest and most interactive product demonstration ever undertaken, for a laundry detergent called Ariel Actilift. It grabbed attention across Scandinavia and induced thousands of people to participate by playing a silly remote-controlled game. In the process, it also proved the remarkable stain-fighting powers of the laundry detergent at the center of it all.

Understanding Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

Not every IMC effort is as elaborate or creative as these examples. The marketers responsible for them imagined and and brought into being something that never existed before. But they also help you begin to see what’s possible when you combine creative ideas with the right set of communication tools focused on a common message and particular target segments.

What makes these marketing programs work? When you pull things apart, you see that each of these campaigns starts with clearly articulated goals and audiences. To make their big ideas happen, they use several different marketing tools and techniques that, together, have a larger impact than any of them could manage separately. Each of these marketing activities is also decidedly participatory. It wasn’t enough to simply deliver a message. Each project invited members of the target audience to get involved in the marketing process, and they made the invitations so compelling that people actually did it!

As a marketer, how do you go about creating this type of promotional experience? What elements come together to make it possible?

That’s what this module is about: how marketers design powerful opportunities to engage their target audiences and shape their perceptions and behaviors. The name of this game is IMC.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain integrated marketing communication (IMC) and its connection to the organization’s marketing strategy
  • Discuss how to develop effective messaging for marketing communications
  • Explain factors to consider when selecting marketing communication methods to execute the strategy
  • Describe common methods of marketing communication, their advantages and disadvantages
  • Explain how IMC tools support the sales process
  • Describe the uses of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for marketing communication purposes
  • Explain common tools and approaches used to measure marketing communication effectiveness
  • Create a marketing campaign and budget using multiple IMC tools to execute a marketing strategy