When you see that certain script style, you know it’s Coca-Cola. When you see the blue oval with silver trim, you know it’s Ford. Your ability to recognize those logos is a direct benefit of integrated marketing communication. People remember information from multiple exposures. When you keep your marketing on point, every exposure builds customer recall. This is what marketing is all about, people remembering your business as the place to do business.
Once known as the “promotion” component in marketing’s “four Ps” (product, place, price and promotion), marketing communications intends to persuade potential customers to purchase a product or service. Communications builds brand awareness, the key to successfully converting prospects to customers. Communications incorporates advertising, Web content, collateral materials, public relations and more. Any method used to put your brand in front of prospects is part of marketing communications.
Integrated Marketing Communications
Ensuring all forms of communications are carefully linked together is how MMC Learning in Manchester, England, defines “integrated marketing communications.” The British online marketing and management college isn’t alone in its thinking. MarketWise Solutions, a Carmel, Indiana, marketing firm believes the concept of coordinating communications is well worth the effort because of the sales it generates. If the pieces of the marketing puzzle do not fit together, money is wasted and sales are lost, says marketing expert Charles Mayo in the “Encyclopedia of Business.”
Effort, coordination and risk combine to achieve increased sales opportunities and competitive advantages. MMC Learning points out that coordinating the marketing message increases profit more than disparate marketing messages. Failing to coordinate the message, the online college says, does more than just dilute the overall effectiveness, “(it can) confuse, frustrate and arouse anxiety in customers.”
There are many benefits to integrated marketing communications, but some barriers block effective implementation. Resistance to change is the major barrier to coordinating marketing communications. MMC Learning suggests that managerial “silos” or “territory” create internal sabotage against effective integration when departments conspire to keep their budget from being transferred to integrated marketing communications. Effective integration requires that all components of communications carry equal value. If public relations were previously a budget stepchild, for example, the product manager may balk when some of the department’s budget is shifted to increase PR impact.
Both MarketWise Solutions and MMC Learning profess “golden rules” towards effective integrated marketing communications:
• Senior management must support the initiative. This is a top-down dictate in a company.
• Integration needs to permeate the company so that the front line personnel answering the phone are as well-versed as the CEO.
• The manager ultimately responsible for implementing the integrated communications must also be given the authority to carry out the task.
• The message needs to be tested, assessed and modified when required.
When there is hierarchical buy-in, the integrated marketing communications program will work.