Without a doubt, promotion and marketing communications are the most ubiquitous elements of any firm’s marketing strategy. Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is defined as customer centric, data driven method of communicating with the customer. Integrated marketing communications is the strategic, coordinated use of promotion to create one consistent message across multiple channels to ensure maximum persuasive impact on the firm’s current and potential customers.
Integrated marketing communications is also process for managing customer relationships that drive brand value primarily through communication efforts. Due to the many advantages associated with IMC, most marketers have adopted integrated marketing as the basis for their communication and promotion strategies.
Many firms are also embracing technology in order to target customers directly through product placement and online promotion. When selecting elements to include in the IMC program, it is important to take a holistic perspective that coordinates not only all promotional elements but also the IMC program with the rest of the marketing program (product, price, and supply chain strategy). All too frequently, firms rush to launch an intensive IMC campaign that has no clear promotional objectives. Ultimately, the goals and objectives of any promotional campaign culminate in the purchase of goods or services by the target market. The role and importance of specific promotional elements vary across the steps in the AIDA model. Alongside the issue of promotional goals and objectives, the firm must also consider its promotional goals with respect to the supply chain. The role and importance of specific promotional elements also vary depending on the nature of the product. Coordinating promotional elements within the context of the entire marketing program requires a complete understanding of the role, function, and benefits of each element.
The starting point of the IMC process is the marketing mix that includes different types of marketing, advertising, and sales efforts.
Integrated marketing communications aims to ensure consistency of message and the complementary use of media.
Using outside-in thinking, Integrated Marketing Communications is a data-driven approach that focuses on identifying consumer insights and developing a strategy with the right (online and offline combination) channels to forge a stronger brand-consumer relationship. Communicate, many mediums working together to present a unified message with a feedback mechanism to make the communication two-way. The goal of selecting the elements of proposed integrated marketing communications is to create a campaign that is effective and consistent across media platforms.
Although integrated marketing communications is more than just an advertising campaign, the bulk of marketing dollars is spent on the creation and distribution of advertisements. A major task that guides the way in creating an effective Integrated Marketing Communications plan is the promotions opportunity analysis. The fourth step of a promotions opportunity analysis program is to prepare a general communication strategy for the company and its products. It is critical that the company’s communication strategy mesh with the overall message and be carefully linked to the opportunities identified by a communication market analysis. Throughout these steps, marketers should consistently review and analyze the actions and tools that major competitors are utilizing. Accountability in marketing is increasing a result of tight economic restraints and an ever evolving society.
In addition to the usual resistance to change and the special problems of communicating with a wide variety of target audiences, there are many other obstacles which restrict IMC. Sadly, some organizational structures isolate communications, data, and even managers from each other. And all of this can be aggravated by turf wars or internal power battles where specific managers resist having some of their decisions (and budgets) determined or even influenced by someone from another department. Here are two difficult questions – What should a truly integrated marketing department look like? Add different time scales into a creative brief and you’ll see Time Horizons provide one more barrier to IMC. If you are a visual-stimulated person, you can watch this video to have a better understanding. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
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A simple marketing plan that outlines all the important pieces needed to successfully and consistently market your business is something every small business should create.
Your vision statement is a vivid description about what you want your business to be such that it inspires and motivates you and helps you create a mental picture of the business you want. Enables you to assess the many opportunities that are presented to you and make decisions based on whether the opportunity helps you get closer to your vision. Enables you to focus on what needs to be done to get there and eliminate anything that wastes time and takes energy away from what is valuable to achieving your dream. Your mission is a concise statement of what your business does, developed from the customer’s perspective, and aligned with the vision for the business. Knowing the answers to these questions provides focus for your business and helps you move from the present into the future. It’s common to reassess goals quarterly and adjust the time frames and priorities based on what is happening around you. Discovering opportunities to provide additional services that have been overlooked by others. Being focused on one particular market enables you to make better choices for all of your  marketing efforts, saving you time and money on activities that don’t make sense for your business and the clients you serve. The Internet levels the playing field for small businesses, but in turn, it creates a very crowded market place. The secret to defining what makes your business different is to understand what your ideal client really wants and make sure you deliver it better than anyone else.
Usually what makes us different may not be a complicated process or service but in fact, it may be something that is simple but has the effect of wowing our clients.
Define your content marketing plan for topics then use email marketing, blog comment strategy or blogging to communicate your expertise and message to your target audience. Define your top 10 keywords and optimize your website, directory listings, and social media profiles to increase visibility in the search engines.
Most of us built our businesses around our passion and in doing so enjoy our work every day. Hi Sarah – Yes, it always helps to know what you want to be and how you are going to get there! A simple marketing plan that outlines all the important pieces needed to successfully and consistently market your business is something every small business should create. Free Marketing Plan TemplateJoin the thousands of people who have created a winning inbound marketing plan.
As a community marketing plan example we are highlighting one of the six communities who has moved forward with their planning since the end of the research project.
The boom of the automobile and road drastically changed the town of Underwood since it was further away from circulation and the new market place built by US Hwy 83 than neighboring towns. During the 1970s the population of Underwood grew significantly due to the openings of the Coal Creek power plant and the Falkirk lignite mine, but the population steadily declined from its 1980 peak of 1,329 residents.
An active and engaged City Council, who together with the Underwood Area Economic Development Council, is focused on Underwood's growth. A strong employer base in the energy park south of town, which includes the Falkirk Mine, Great River Energy's Coal Creek Station, and Blue Flint Ethanol. An active Park Board that is interested in improving existing recreational facilities, including an outdoor pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, and volleyball courts. Underwood is a growing community attractive to all who want to be part of a compassionate, caring and accepting place. We are a diverse and vibrant business community that excels in quality and service from the perfect T-Bone steak to the best medical care.
To promote, encourage and assist in the development and advancement of business prosperity and economic well-being of this community; to stimulate growth of new and existing businesses which will in turn maintain the economic stability of this community and provide employment possibilities in this area. Goal 3: Increase levels of acceptance to instill a sense of belonging and pride by all community residents.
Goal 4: Partner with the Underwood School to achieve and maintain world class status in helping students and community members lead full lives and reach their potential. Goal 5: Retain and expand the quality and variety of retail, recreational, and human services to help diversify the local economy and respond to global change. Branding: includes community words and images with a specific message that have meaning to new residents and represent community.
Leadership Training: helps reinforce the "energized" brand-suggest all public officials, community leaders and business leaders participate.
Buy Local Campaign: regionalize outreach and buy local efforts, create a "sustainable community". Underwood is currently working on a strategic plan for 2012 that will provide an in-depth focus on leadership training, entrepreneurship and the Buy Local campaign. 2010 Marketing Plan Powerpoint (pdf) This was presented to the Underwood Community in anticipation of creating a usable marketing plan. 2010 Marketing Plan Draft Underwood is currently working on completing their official 2012 marketing plan. The photo is an outline of the marketing plan Underwood presented to the community in 2010.
Underwood residents were invited (see invitation) to participate in a discussion on test-marketing a powerpoint presentation developed by NRI for marketing Underwood.
Becky Bowen was nominated as Professional Developer of the Year and Underwood was awarded Entrepreneurial Community of the Year by Market Place Ideas for their work in successfully re-developing the Underwood Community. Launched the First Annual Underwood Mid-Summer Classics: along with car owners, enthusiasts, and community members, this show attracted over 300 bikers.
Plan to hold a series of community meets, starting in January, to prepare a new strategic plan. January 19 Underwood will be hosting a region-wide meeting to discuss how to prepare for the expected oil impact.
T-Bone's Steakhouse and Lounge: Opened August 1, 2010-Scott and Dawn Sackman purchased an old Cafe, tore everything out and started new. This is an important step because your Social Media Marketing Plan will revolve around your primary objective and your individual goals.


You need to know exactly what you want to accomplish with your time on social media, and for everything you do to revolve around achieving those specific goals. This is a bit of a segway, but I have two blog posts I highly recommend you read before you complete your Social Media Marketing Plan. In those posts I talk about the importance of serving your market, and selling to your market, and how rude it is to not recommend products and services. These may seem like easy questions on the surface, but they’re not always easy to answer.
Tip: Do channel-specific offers such as a “twitter20” coupon code for 20% off, or a “pinterestfan” coupon code for a free offer. Make a list of what will work best in and for your market, or with your business model, and keep those objectives in mind with every single update you make. For now though, print off the included Checklist so you can brainstorm your goals in detail – which will help you make the most out of your social media time. Use a time block, just 15 or 30 minutes a day max, and dedicate this specific time to social media marketing and growing your reach, finding affiliates or JV partners, connecting with brands, increasing engagement with your target market – or whatever your highest priorities are in your business at the moment.
I’ve mentioned already that you want to focus on your loyal fans more so than just numbers and stats. What Are the Elements of a Great Small Business Marketing Plan?You’re about to launch your small business and most of the pieces are in place. If you’re just starting your business or you’ve been in business for a while but you’re unsure how to get more customers then a marketing plan will really help you. You may look at famous designers and think that they are so lucky, but the truth is that they worked extremely hard to get to where they are today. This is not surprising because promotional activities are necessary to communicate the features and benefits of a product to the firm’s intended target markets.
IMC is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost.
IMC takes a 360-degree view of the customer that considers each and every contact that a customer or potential customer may have in his or her relationship with the firm. Such efforts often include cross-functional processes that create and nourish profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven, purposeful dialog with them. By coordinating all communication ‘‘touch points,’’ firms using IMC convey an image of truly knowing and caring about their customers that can translate into long-term customer relationships.
This increased focus on individual customers requires that the overall promotional program be integrated and focused as well. Taking this approach allows a firm to communicate a consistent message to target customers from every possible angle, thereby maximizing the total impact on those customers. The vast majority of promotion activities do not create results in the short term, so firms must focus on long-term promotional objectives and have the patience to continue the program long enough to gauge true success. As a result, the first major goal of any promotional campaign is to attract the attention of potential customers.
Therefore, the firm must spark interest in the product by demonstrating its features, uses, and benefits. Good promotion will stimulate desire by convincing potential customers of the product’s superiority and its ability to satisfy specific needs.
Mass-communication elements, such as advertising and public relations, tend to be used more heavily to stimulate awareness and interest due to their efficiency in reaching large numbers of potential customers. In essence, the firm must decide whether it will use a pull strategy, a push strategy, or some combination of the two.
Industrial products, such as heavy equipment, rely more heavily on personal selling; consumer products require greater use of advertising, sales promotion, and public relations.
The advantages and disadvantages of each element must be carefully balanced against the promotional budget and the firm’s IMC goals and objectives. Without a complete IMC plan there is no integration or harmony between client and customers.
This involves knowing the right touch points to use to reach consumers and understanding how and where they consume different types of media. From mass media to more specialized (niche) media, which are centered on specific target audiences.
From low agency accountability to greater agency accountability, particularly in advertising. From traditional compensation to performance-based compensation (increased sales or benefits to the company). It can create competitive advantage, boost sales and profits, while saving money, time and stress.
IMC wraps communications around customers and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process.
This ‘Relationship Marketing’ cements a bond of loyalty with customers which can protect them from the inevitable onslaught of competition. Finally, IMC saves money as it eliminates duplication in areas such as graphics and photography since they can be shared and used in say, advertising, exhibitions and sales literature. And be sure to include an understanding of non-traditional mediums, such as word of mouth and how it can influence your position in the consumer’s mind.
Some marketers may want only ads with greatest breadth of appeal: the executions that, when combined, provide the greatest number of attention-getting, branded, and motivational moments. It is called the “last 3 feet” because this is usually the distance between a salesperson and his customer on the retail sales floor. Strategies are sweeping guidelines concerning the essence of the company’s marketing efforts.
Companies realize that they cannot spend large amounts of money on unproductive marketing campaigns. Rigid organizational structures are infested with managers who protect both their budgets and their power base. An advertising agency may not be so enthusiastic about developing a creative idea generated by, say, a PR or a direct marketing consultant. No more wild and wacky sales promotions unless they fit into the overall marketing communications strategy.
For example, image advertising, designed to nurture the brand over the longer term, may conflict with shorter term advertising or sales promotions designed to boost quarterly sales. Whether you want to focus solely on inbound marketing or you want to integrate online with off-line marketing activities, there are 10 important reasons why your small business needs a realistic but simple marketing plan. Specifies what you deliver to your customers, not in terms of process, but by the real needs that are fulfilled for your customers when they do business with you. By setting goals and writing them down you are forced to be specific about what you want to achieve, how you will get there and by when. Those who can describe how they are different have a competitive advantage over those who cannot.
Marketing your business is no different – you need a plan to guide you towards your destination. Sign up and take advantage of the Google Authorship program to increase visibility for our original content.
It takes your road map one step further and assigns dates, topics and other activities to each activity so that it eliminates the guess work – you always know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.
However, if you are in business to be successful, then you need to view marketing as an investment and take the proper steps to ensure you are maximizing your resources. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. I love the fact that her style is very practical and focused rather than providing me with fluff. Underwood, North Dakota has effectively designed and implemented their community marketing plan and strategic plan.
The presence of the railroad and the construction of Garrison Dam in the 1950s contributed to Underwood's early growth but with the introduction of US Hwy 83, the region's main trade corridor, the town began to experience a change in its growth patterns.
As a result, "shotgun growth" emerged east of the railroad, while the downtown corridor slowly lost a significant amount of its retail business.
According to the 2000 US Census, Underwood had a population of 812, but the 2009 number was closer to 750.
Through its efforts, as well as the actions of the Underwood City Council, and several private citizens and benefactors, Underwood began its initial stage of "re-energizing", which was fortified in 2004 through the completion and creation of several projects and developments. Then the Underwood Area Economic Development Corporation, through its participation in the Northwest Area Foundation's Horizons Program, developed a two-year Strategic Plan for the City of Underwood focusing on five goals and specific areas. This trio of employers hosts a monthly roundtable for discussion of both employer and community issues for Underwood and Washburn. We provide recreation and services for those who want to grow, prosper and retire in a place they can call home.
It provides world class education and activities in a dynamic learning environment for youth and adults. This presentation and meeting were designed to help identify the marketing strategies that best suited Underwood specifically. This is particularly important because Underwood is a "fringe area" community in terms of the oil expansion western North Dakota is experiencing.
Otherwise you can get sucked into Social Media, waste your time, and not see profitable results. Reading these two posts will really change the way you view it, and help you see how it actually benefits your readers! This will really help you with your overall business objective, so take a moment to read them. There is a Checklist included in your download package that you can print off and use to complete this exercise. Nailing these down will make a BIG difference in your business because it will really tighten up your targeting and improve your focus. People love interacting with brands and stores online, and getting quick answers & personal solutions -and- resolutions. It’s a great way to show “Fan Appreciation” for followers on specific social media channels. Again, see these two posts: Apology Marketing is Killing Your Sales and Do You Avoid Making The Pitch?
Hosting channel- specific Fan Appreciation days or specials like I mentioned above is just one great idea!
You have a clear business plan, a set of documented financial goals, a financing plan, a production plan and a hiring strategy.


The fashion industry is hugely competitive and for someone who’s just starting to learn the ropes, you need to be able to learn how to distinguish yourself and stay ahead of competition. It's a key document that contains information on your products, competitive landscape, your industry, marketing, pricing, distribution, management and financial information. Marketing communications includes conveying and sharing meaning between buyers and sellers, either as individuals and firms, or between individuals and firms. This management concept is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation. IMC includes the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, and sources within a company into a seamless program in order to maximize the impact on end users at a minimal cost. Likewise, Integrated marketing communications reduces costs and increases efficiency because it can reduce or eliminate redundancies and waste in the overall promotional program.
For example, if the advertising campaign stresses quality, the sales force talks about low price, the supply chain pushes intensive distribution, and the website stresses product innovation, then what is the customer to believe? For example, a mix of Super Bowl ads, social and digital media, and event marketing were utilized to launch Gatorade’s G2, a low-calorie version of the popular Gatorade sports drink. When firms use a pull strategy, they focus their promotional efforts toward stimulating demand among final customers, who then exert pressure on the supply chain to carry the product.
To ensure a constant and synergistic message to targeted customers, the firm must ultimately decide how to weigh each promotional element in the overall IMC strategy. The way new products and services are marketed have changed even though the aim of business in bringing economic and social values remain unchanged.
The goal of an organization is to create and maintain communication throughout its own employees and throughout its customers.
Online marketing channels include any e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to latest web related channels for webinar, blog, micro-blogging, RSS, podcast, Internet Radio, and Internet TV. The organization simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue and nurtures its relationship with customers. This reduces risk in the mind of the buyer which, in turn, shortens the search process and helps to dictate the outcome of brand comparisons. Often it is the cost of time to drive somewhere, the cost of conscience of what you buy, the cost of guilt for not treating the kids, the investment a consumer is willing to make to avoid risk, etc.
Consider all possible definitions of “convenience” as it relates to satisfying the consumer’s wants and needs. How many ways can a customer hear (or see) the same message through the course of the day, each message reinforcing the earlier images?
Others may only want ads with the greatest depth of appeal: the ads with the greatest number of attention-getting, branded, and motivational points within each. Once the key marketing pieces have been tested, the researched elements can then be applied to other contact points: letterhead, packaging, logistics, customer service training, and more, to complete the IMC cycle. The “last 3 feet” also applies to the distance across the desk from a sales representative to his prospective business customer. Strategies must be achievable using the allocations available in the marketing and communications budgets.
Companies look for programs that will have a measurable impact on business at minimal cost. The joy of rampant creativity may be stifled, but the creative challenge may be greater and ultimately more satisfying when operating within a tighter, integrated, creative brief.
A simple marketing plan that is well defined with an action plan to help you be consistent ensures you are focusing on the success of your business. Underwood is a community of about 800 people, as of 2011, located near energy resources and development. A sprinkling of businesses currently lines US Hwy 83 near Underwood, but provides little draw into the community itself. The K-12 Underwood Public School was experiencing an eroding population as well as, a significant economic leakage of business activity from Underwood to larger trade areas. In 2010 Underwood completed their first marketing plan, focusing on the areas established in the strategic plan.
Which means less time wasted, and more time spent strategically improving your profit potential. You can also use social media for market research, and reward your followers for surveys & feedback. That’s why you want to focus on your “true fans” and also on conversions – the truest metric to determine the success of your social media strategies. Your marketing plan aligns all your marketing efforts and helps you in measuring your success in relation to your business goals. This integration affects all firms’ business-to-business, marketing channel, customer-focused, and internally directed communications.
Many firms have embraced IMC because mass-media advertising has become more expensive and less predictable than in the past. Not readily seeing that a product can deliver all these benefits, the customer is likely to become confused and go to a competitor with a more consistent message. Promotion based on creativity alone, unlinked to the rest of the marketing strategy, can waste limited and valuable marketing resources. Pulling in sales of approximately $160 million in its first year, G2 succeeded, whereas 75 percent of new products fail to earn even $7.5 million in their first year.
The coordinated use of heavy advertising, public relations, and consumer sales promotion has the effect of pulling products through the supply chain, hence its name. Early in a product’s life cycle, even before its introduction, the heavy expenditures on promotional activities are often a significant drain on the firm’s resources. In the remainder of this chapter, we discuss the important issues associated with advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion. Offline marketing channels are traditional print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relations, industry relations, billboard, traditional radio, and television. Convenience may include aspects of the physical or virtual location, access ease, transaction service time, and hours of availability. Prior to the research project Underwood's main concern was growth due to a decreasing population.
Due to these plans and assistance Underwood has experienced economic and community growth since 2009. It was decided to have a follow-up discussion and each person committed to bringing at least one other community member. Becky Bowen also discussed the two restaurants reopening, the sale of the lumberyard, the new home construction, the highway signage, the new consignment store, and the beautification projects. If this strategy works well for you, host a “Fan Appreciation” sale or special (or free download) every month. This goes a long way with merchants and brands (and even sponsors) that I may want to work with.
Marketers are being forced to adopt new marketing strategies as advancing technology and customer preferences are threatening to make traditional forms of promotion obsolete. Along with advertising, sales promotion activities, such as product samples or demonstrations, are vital to stimulating interest in the product.
In a push strategy, promotional efforts focus on members of the supply chain, such as wholesalers and retailers, to motivate them to spend extra time and effort on selling the product.
At this stage, it is important to consider these expenditures as investments for the long term because the true impact of the promotional program may not be felt for some time. Marketing has evolved to more of connectedness, due to the new characteristics brought in by the Internet.
A company develops its integrated marketing communication program using all the elements of the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion). Only changes in the marketplace, new competitive forces, or new promotional opportunities should cause companies to alter strategies.
There appear to be very few people who have real experience of all the marketing communications disciplines. Underwood is currently (2011) revamping their strategic plan and marketing plan to incorporate these community changes.
Things like this keep people paying attention to you so they don’t miss out – and that’s exactly the type of engagement you want! And what are the elements your marketing plan will need to cover?Why Does Your Small Business Need a Marketing Plan?A marketing plan helps you identify your core audience and then define this audience in writing. The enhanced communication effectiveness of personal selling makes it ideally suited to moving potential customers through internal desire and into action.
This strategy relies heavily on personal selling and trade sales promotion to push products through the supply chain toward final customers. By the time a product has moved into the maturity phase of its life cycle, the firm can reduce promotional expenditures somewhat, thereby enjoying lower costs and higher profits.
Marketing was once seen as a one way, with firms broadcasting their offerings and value proposition.
Other sales promotion activities, such as product displays, coupons, and trial-size packaging, are well suited to pushing customers toward the final act of making a purchase. For now, understanding the barriers is the first step in successfully implementing integrated marketing communication. A clear marketing plan can help you control this shift.Your marketing plan can also provide structure as you move from one campaign to the next. As each campaign ends, you’ll conduct post-mortem assessments, document lessons learned and determine which elements worked and which didn’t. Promotional activities include advertising (by using different media), sales promotion (sales and trades promotion), and personal selling activities.
Instead, your audience is segmented into subgroups with different values and different needs. It also includes Internet marketing, sponsorship marketing, direct marketing, database marketing and public relations. Integration of all these promotional tools, along with other components of marketing mix, is a way to gain an edge over a competitor.
Consider price, ease of use, delivery options, etc.Goals: What are your annual goals and what specific metrics can help you track them?



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