Integrated marketing communications is an approach to promoting a message through multiple strategies that work together and reinforce one another. For example, a company may promote a new logo, slogan, or strategy through multiple media such as print, television, web, and social networks. Each approach may be slightly different for the specific medium, but they'll all direct the audience to the same message. There are countless ways to approach this creatively.
Integrated marketing strategies have proven to be reliable because fusing modern and traditional marketing guarantees that communications incorporate the best of both worlds and reach all relevant stakeholders. Communication is considered most effective when messages are passed without any disruption and have the best clarity.
Identifying a Target Audience
When developing an integrated marketing communications plan, it is important to thoroughly analyze and determine the target audience, which often is made up of current or prospective customers. It also is important to determine the characteristics of customers, which might include age, education level, gender, income, and geographic location, among others. Once the audience is identified, the developer of an integrated marketing strategy goes about addressing the needs of the customer by identifying the needs of the targeted demographics.
Successful approaches lead to the development and maintenance of good company-customer relationships. They promote a company’s brands to potential clients, convincing those people that it is in their best interest to try the new product or service. The overall effect is that the company enjoys an increased profit margin, which is the primary reason for engaging in most entrepreneurial activities.
Not all marketing plans are the same because different plans have different objectives. These are the most common types of integrated marketing communications plans, each one dependent on what the firm creating the plan is hoping to accomplish:
- External: This is when a company outsources the task of marketing to a marketing firm or a public relations firm, instead of handling it in-house. The outside agencies are then tasked with designing and developing the most effective strategies for the firm that contracted them. Outsourcing can be beneficial when a firm wants to get a different perspective from experts who are not connected to the firm and are likely to be more objective.
- Internal: Internal marketing integration involves the action of top-level management ensuring that employees are happy—and excited about—new products being developed. This ensures that the workers leak the details prematurely, hence gaining the excitement of prospective customers even before products hit the market.
- Horizontal: This approach to marketing brings together different departments that may be working on the same initiative but in different ways. For example, one department might be developing a new product, while an entirely different department is tasked with distribution. An open flow of information and communication among relevant departments provides the requisite synergy required to build the most effective and complete marketing strategy.
- Vertical: This strategy demands that a product being developed fits in with corporate policy as well as the structure of the company. This means that the product has to be within the breadth of a company’s mission and goals.
Why Integrated Marketing Is Important
While integrated marketing is not new, it still is important in today's world. There are more marketing channels now than ever before, and different channels can be led and directed by different people.
Integrated marketing strategies help pull all of a brand's message points together into one cohesive whole to ensure that the message is not disjointed and confusing. Especially today, when customers are bombarded right and left with news and information of every ilk, integrated marketing relays one clear message, regardless of the channel.