Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is a cross-functional process for planning, executing, and monitoring brand communications designed to profitably acquire, retain, and grow customers. IMC is cross-functional because every contact that a customer has with a firm or its agents helps to form brand images. For example, a retail customer might buy and use a product from the Web site, then e-mail or call the 1-800 number to complain about a problem, and finally return the product to the brick-and-mortar retail store. Every contact with an employee, a Web site, a magazine ad, a catalogue, the physical store facilities, and so forth, helps the customer form an image of the firm. In addition, the product experience, its pricing level, and its distribution channels enhance the firm’s marketing communication in a variety of online and offline media to present a strong brand image. The best advertising can be undermined if these online and offline contact experiences do not communicate in a unified way to create and support positive brand relationships with customers.
Profitable customer relationships are key to a firm’s existence. Successful firms recognise that not all customers are equally valuable — some, such as frequent flyers or buyers, are more important than others. Using technology, firms can monitor profits customer by customer and, based on this analysis, pay more attention to high-value customers. Databases and the analysis techniques allow firms to differentiate customers by value and track the results of company MarCom campaigns.
IMC strategy begins with a thorough understanding of the target stakeholders, the brand, its competition, and many other internal and external factors. Then marketers select specific MarCom tools to achieve their communication objectives. After implementation, they measure execution effectiveness, make needed adjustments, and evaluate the results. Many IMC experts agree that it should
1) be more strategic than executional (i.e., more than just about ‘one voice, one look’),
2) be about more than just advertising and sales promotion messages,
3) include two-way as well as one-way communication, and
4) be results driven.
Although strategic IMC entails a coordinated marketing mix and cross-functional participation, this section focuses on the promotion mix elements (also called marketing communication tools), the core of a firm’s marketing communication plan.
Dr. Brian Monger
CEO MAANZ International http://www.marketing.org.au
Twitter @smartamarketing https://twitter.com/#!/smartamarketing