ForeC’ing Integrated Marketing Communications
Written by Professional Academy Tutor and Marketing Expert Peter Sumpton
In doing research for this blog post it became apparent that there are a number of variations as to what constitutes the 4 C’s of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Although similar in meaning and content, each foursome has its very own take on the most important facets when trying to integrate comms. My job, make some sense of the varying lists and focus on what is fundamentally important, how the letter C is so Crucial in imC! So let’s dive right in shall we.
What is your overall IMC plan going to cost, per media chosen and the expected ROI of each media and overall? These are determining factors for any plan, but more important for an integrated communications plan as each element will invariably increase the overall budget required. Measuring individual performance post execution and your IMC plan in its entirety are as important as each other.
Two-way conversations are essential in today’s marketing area where consumer choice is almost infinite. Creating a relationship-based strategy where both consumer and business learn from each other (rather than the traditional one-way communication) can increase consumer lifetime value.
Consumers have more choice, knowledge and power in what they want, NOW. Understanding your customers’ leads to a great understanding of what User Experience (UX) is expected if not desired, which should always be above and beyond expectations. Value your customers and your customers will value you.
The more convenient you can make it for consumers to commit to purchasing, the more likely they are to make this decision. Many websites are now structured to sell 24/7, when a consumer is ready to buy, they can. Convenience is a major part of a user’s experience; payment options, delivery and packaging are just a few of the attributes that can increase levels convenience for your customers.
Any legitimate business sees itself, its products and its services as credible and this is no different for its communications. Some markets are easier than others to form this integrity – compare the last PPI or automated call you had to an advert discussing dental hygiene, which was more credible? Although credibility is difficult to quantify, your target audiences views and beliefs can help you establish what is important to and what isn’t.
Controlling each individual message; image, copy or otherwise will vary depending on the media output chosen. A good relationship with media agencies and owners can help reduce the obstacles that maybe faced with controlling output. Lack of control may lead to inconsistency of message…..
Consistency of message is vital for IMC to hold any validity. It affects credibility and communication effectiveness, continuity and coherence which can all have a detrimental effect on success if communications are deemed contradictory, particularly if different to core sales and marketing goals.
While consistency takes the view of your IMC output in isolation, coherence is about making sure that all messages, across all parts of your business are aligned to the overall business objectives.
Building up a reputation in one area to be conflicting in another will leave customers confused and reduce levels of influence.
Unified, reiteration of the same message throughout all communications is imperative if a level of integrity is to be established long-term.
Every channel used must be monitored for continuity. The message you convey may evolve within the various stages of a customer’s journey, but the core message(s) must remain consistent throughout.
Like coherence and continuity, maintaining messages that are complimentary will engage with the target audience, using viral channels such as social media so that the campaign can spread to larger audiences organically. This it creates a well-balanced, whole and supportive communication strategy.
The many factors discussed in this blog can have an effect on any IMC strategy regardless of the size, market or organisation. I’ll leave it to Philip Kotler to summaries the main components of IMC in a concise manor; ‘the concept under which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent message’.
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