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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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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.
No Comments.The paradox of present-day marketing is that there are more media outlets than ever before, but target audiences exist in unique niches that are often difficult to identify, understand, and reach with the appropriate message to encourage action.
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. 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. 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. 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.
Promotional activities include advertising (by using different media), sales promotion (sales and trades promotion), and personal selling activities.
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. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 13 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS, PhD, and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.



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