An Ultimate Guide To Integrated Marketing Communications
Today, we all live in a connected world. This connection is woven through the medium of digital networks and technologies. With the help of Integrated Marketing Communications, companies and brands can now educate, engage and connect with customers in ways they could never have imagined before. That raises the idea or the possibility of redirecting from a command and control mindset that traditional marketing previously had to a connect and collaborate mindset. We believe that an Organisation conducting an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Strategy with a connect and collaborate mindset would create a dent in this “Universe of Digital Marketing.”
A Brief History of Silos
The role of marketing communications has broadened significantly over the last several years. To date, many brands had their marketing teams structured around specific channels. Every such team focussed only on their particular channel or marketing plan, trying to outplay the other. That led to a fragmented marketing structure.
In Digital Marketing, an Organisation with a Silo Marketing approach divides itself into many different branches. Each branch works as an individual entity without any interaction with other departments or channels.
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Silo marketing refers to the solitary, disconnected, and partial integration of marketing channels. That could mean using only one or two communication channels or using multiple digital strategies without maintaining a consistent rhythm, resulting in friction. That results in a stalled marketing strategy.
Television, newspaper, and banners were the principal means of advertising in the past. As the world dove into the vast ocean of Digital Marketing, we saw businesses break into multiple teams to cater to digital and out-of-home channels.
A “Siloed approach” exists not only within Marketing but also between different departments throughout the organization, such as IT, Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, and HR. In today’s world, working in silos is like building dams that sabotage the flow of this mighty “River of Opportunities.”
Today, the Indian Cricket team outstand everyone because of a culture of collaboration. Everyone in the squad has one motto, one dream, and one vision. The selectors, support staff, board of directors, medical and fitness team, managers, captain, and every player in the team have a collaborative approach than a competitive approach amongst themselves. All possible information is passed across every division of the team. That ensures the smooth and hiccup-free functioning of the organization.
To summarise, integration is highly important. To give you an example – without an SEO plan, you cannot create a sponsored search campaign. They both have to work in partnership. Similarly, you cannot have an SEO plan without a social media strategy since they are completely intertwined. It is a symbiotic relationship.
The “team of teams” concept has consistently shown that a collaborative culture is more effective at delivering innovative results. Such an approach puts the team up for long-term success.
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A Complete Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
Definitions of Integrated Marketing Communications/ Strategy
- “Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Strategy – the process of combining several marketing channels that operate in tandem to promote any product or service via a smart campaign. It ensures that the brand message is ingrained in your daily routine by promoting it across all available mediums and channels.”
- “Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a systematic strategy to combining communications and interactive experiences that target specific audiences and individuals, and it coordinates all parts of a brand’s marketing.”
- “Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a method of incorporating all aspects of digital marketing into a single framework. Even now, many firms concentrate solely on one channel. When SEO, email marketing, social media, paid ads (Facebook & Google Ads), and other channels operate in isolation, they are ineffective. It is necessary to have an interconnected structure so that each component/channel of digital marketing feeds off of one another.”
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Personalized and a Tailored Marketing Plan
Today, you must consider issues from a larger viewpoint. New innovations are usually beneficial in creating individualized experiences. This is the era of individualization. It is no longer acceptable for brands to have a product that is only available on a single platform. Brands must increasingly consider their customers’ personalized experiences in everything they do.
Today’s world has evolved from a one-to-many to a one-to-one approach. No such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution exists nowadays. People want brands to cater to their needs in a highly personalized manner.
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Every brand’s new marketing credo is to be Omnipresent. When you see the brand’s message on every platform, it becomes more powerful. This results in a high level of brand recall. In today’s society, there is so much clutter that if you want to stand out, you must have a presence everywhere.
Omnichannel marketing allows a brand to reach a larger audience than a single channel. When you witness a consistent message, you begin to believe in the brand and acquire confidence in it. That is precisely how human psychology operates.
Over the last few years, marketing communications has taken on a much broader function. When making a purchase, customers no longer follow a straight path. Consider anything you’ve recently purchased. You must have done some research on numerous sites to ensure that everything is to your liking.
This can include internet research, reading customer reviews, seeing ads on social media, asking a friend, watching a video or a TV commercial, or physically inspecting the product. You might have even thought about comparing different brands or where to buy something based on pricing, features, or other considerations. Integrated marketing entails putting all of these parts together and integrating them to provide excellent customer service.
Marketing, communications, and public relations, as well as digital analytics, loyalty programs, IT, and sales, can no longer operate in silos. Companies must coordinate these to achieve their objectives and promote revenue and growth. The use of an integrated approach allows clients to be engaged at every stage of their journey.
You never know when and where a customer will come upon your marketing channel or marketing communications.
Ensure that customers have a positive and lasting impression across all channels. You can bombard consumers with a lot of information in a wide variety of ways, but every firm must ensure that the customer is at the center of their marketing plan. This is the only way to create a lasting relationship with your customers and delight them.
The Art and Science of Marketing
The most successful businesses combine the Art and Science of marketing communications. Science allows you to leverage data and insights to gain a deeper understanding of your customers. Art lets you use your creative abilities to create campaigns that reach out to people’s hearts and brains. That fosters a deep emotional bond between the brand and its customers.
In today’s marketing world, art and science are inextricably linked. Every brand’s success hinges on bringing the art and science of marketing communications to life.
Questions to ask before running an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Campaign
- When, Where, and What is that you wish to communicate?
- What is the role of the messaging?
- What is the purpose behind running your TV Commercial or a banner advertisement?
- How can we be certain that the message is contextually appropriate?
Pro-Tip – It is not what you say, but how you say it, that will determine the success of your Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaign.
Things to consider before running an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Campaign –
- A crucial component of the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) strategy process is defining precise goals that are well-curated and reflect the future direction of the organization. Define the objectives of your organization. Every brand must embrace SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- The content should be interesting, thought-provoking, engaging, and must have the potential to spark a conversation.
- Make certain that your marketing plans do not contain any dead ends.
- It must be the right message, at the right time, in the right context, for the right consumer.
- Consider making clear connections. Everyone wants something valuable, personalized or free of cost.
- Make an effort to establish a connection. People expect more from companies and brands, and they expect them to keep up with their changing needs.
- As desktop experience is almost extinct today, all websites must be mobile-friendly. As a brand, you should be up to date on the latest trends and have your finger placed permanently on the pulse of the market.
The mobile user experience is driven by three factors: convenience, simplicity, and proximity. Mobile gadgets have simplified and facilitated everyone’s lives. While mobile-optimized websites and apps make the road to discovery easier, they also promote relevance and top-of-mind awareness.
- To make that emotional connection and remain relevant, every brand must keep its promise to personalize the experience. You must leave an impression that is both memorable and meaningful. This is how you should delight and surprise your customers at every bend of their journey. All of this is vital for gaining success.
- Measuring your efforts is the final stage in IDM Strategy. To be effective, you must continually analyze all methods and instruments and compare actual results to projected results. You must then apply those insights to further refine and improve your strategy.
Consumers today expect a consistent online user experience. They want information that will educate, entertain, and give value to their lives. Integrated Digital Marketing is what they’re looking for today.
The Art of Storytelling
We all assimilate every piece of information by creating our own story around it. Stories are timeless and universal. Stories evoke an emotional connection and hence resonate with us at a much deeper and meaningful level.
Any company that urges to make an impact must create a narrative that connects with the audience. It is critical for brands to discover the stories that define them — not what they do or sell, but what they stand for.
We believe that a brand’s message should be echoed in the form of storytelling across all platforms. This creates an inseparable bond amongst everyone associated with the brand, allowing them to believe in the story and start living the brand.
Invite customers into your narrative to get the maximum interaction. Every human being desires to be included in the story. They want you to paint a vision of a better life for them, to help them overcome difficulties, to be their guide, and to bring them to a climactic finale, in which their story ends happily.
Pro-Tip: Customers want to be a part of your narrative. Companies must recognize that the consumer is the hero, not the brand.
Integrated Online Collaboration
Stay-at-home orders have resulted in a paradigm shift in corporate strategies, in recent years. With a remote work environment being the new-normal, online collaboration is a vital element of the modern workplace. As of today, many businesses do not even intend to return to the traditional and pre-pandemic work model.
Many companies have been compelled to adapt to the Integrated Collaboration Environment as workers, business partners, and customers are more split than ever before. Integrated Online Collaboration is for everybody now and is the key to survival.
Collaboration is defined as the art of dramatically increasing staff performance and earnings through boosting internal communication. To achieve greater heights, you need to invest in one of the finest team collaboration software and tools.
Collaboration Software for teams is becoming more popular. Working together on professional projects is made easier and faster with online collaboration tools. It enables real-time communication, project and task management, file storage, and collaborative content creation. That results in efficient work-around-time.
With everything centralized in one place, your process becomes extremely efficient. There is a transparent exchange of information that avoids the possibility of miscommunication. You also gain an accurate insight into the progress of your project.
We want your business to function in the smoothest possible and in a hurdle-free way. To boost the efficiency of your project, we are providing you with a list of 11 Online Collaboration Tools.
List of Best Project Management Tools and Collaboration Tools
- Click-up (rising-star of project management space and a great all-rounder tool)
- com (Very customizable and a popular tool for team-wide collaboration)
- Wrike (All-in-one tool with full visibility and control over projects)
- Asana (real-time workspace sharing and is the “staple” of the market)
- Teamwork (a focused tool that is ideal for distributed teams)
- Basecamp (creative and design industry, allows you to work more asynchronously than in real-time.)
- Notion (all-in-one-workplace and extremely versatile)
- Trello (Extremely Flexible Application. Butler-Automation allows custom actions)
- MeisterTask (extremely customizable tool for managing tasks)
- Jira (A popular Tool used for bug tracking and issue tracking)
- Freedcamp (Team Collaboration in a single project management platform)
Collaborative Marketing with Customers
Collaborative marketing with customers is a marketing strategy in which the brand and its target audience work together in tandem. The objective here is to involve customers in your marketing processes and strategies. Customers will always embrace what they co-create.
It is a strategy that relies on using your customer’s creativity, expertise, and insights by involving them actively in your marketing operations and rewarding them with something in return, which could be monetary or reputational.
Customers today have a lot of market exposure. They are highly imaginative and innovative when it comes to churning up new ideas. They are smarter than you think, and they have more ideas than you do. As a result, there is a wealth of ideas and insights readily available to you. You as a brand must be able to excavate this “Mine of Wealth.”
Today, your Customers want to get in touch with you and are eager to take part in this journey of co-creation. As a result, involving customers in the design of products or marketing initiatives gives them a sense of ownership and makes them more engaged. This in return creates a massive fan base, which keeps multiplying with time and leads to the generation of a community, wherein your consumers start living the brand.
In this disruptive digital age of marketing, you should change the way you engage, communicate and connect with the customers. As we discussed earlier, Connect and Collaborate is “the mantra” for every brand’s success.
Transformation and Reframing of Marketing Strategy
Marketers nowadays should be aware of the distinctions between brand marketing and direct marketing. In simpler words, it’s Brand-marketing vs Advertising. Advertising is a Push-marketing approach, whereas brand-marketing is a Pull-marketing strategy.
Brand marketing focuses on gaining attention and trust, whereas advertising is primarily concerned with maximizing Return-On-Investment (ROI). The focus now must be on Return-On-Engagement (ROE) rather than Return-On-Investment (ROI).
This approach is a radical shift from outbound to inbound marketing. To put it simply, it is a shift from convincing customers to attracting customers. Value addition is generated not by buying attention but by earning attention.
Brands should be concerned with their content and operate in a path that is beneficial to people. When people witness things being done for them rather than to them, they begin to believe in a brand. Brands should be able to step into the shoes of their customers and solve their problems. You shouldn’t be a product seller but a problem solver. Being empathic is the key to success.
Every brand should lean towards a creative approach. Telling emotional and soul-stirring stories which engage people is a creative method. Stories connect with the heart and bypass the mind. According to cognitive psychology, it is said that we feel before we think.
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3 most important Shifts in marketing strategies today –
- A shift from product-driven to content-driven.
- A shift from rational, informational to emotional storytelling.
- A shift from a campaign-centric to an Always-on marketing approach.
Why Invest in Integrated Marketing?
- Enhance operational performance and efficiency across the marketing organization.
- A shift from fragmented marketing structure to a collaborative marketing structure by breaking the Siloed approach.
- To build a unified strategy of one motto, one dream, and one vision.
- Saves Time and Money.
- Your brand’s message resonates across all marketing channels, fostering consumer trust and authority. This results in a high level of brand recall.
- The insights allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers.
- You can connect with your audience, forming a lifelong relationship.
- Integrated marketing creates a seamless and consistent customer experience.
- Relevancy and personalization.
- Higher Conversion Percentage.
Marketing entails continual consumer involvement on digital and physical platforms through valuable, timely, and interactive content creation. Your consumers and your channels are constantly available and active. You cannot turn off both. You must have a consistent, content-driven engagement that occurs on a regular basis.
To sum up, as a marketeer, you must be the person who switches on the light for others and assist them in clearing the fuzzy image in front of them.
We hope that this article has answered all of your questions about Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and has aided you in developing an Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy for your company.
We wish to cater to all your questions and queries related to Digital Marketing. Do let us know in the comments section if you would want us to address and cover a specific topic that would be valuable to you. We would always go the extra mile to help you.