Integrated marketing communications (IMC) was created as a response to the barrage of advertisements that make consumers numb to individual product messages. This constant stream of advertising messages became an issue during the arrival of television advertisements and continued to be problematic with additional media, such as the Internet. The IMC method of advertising seeks to cut through advertising inundation and make the company’s message stand out. This is accomplished through marketing targeted at specific consumers and message unification. IMC has eight major elements to it.
A company's corporate image sums up the publicly established characteristics of the business. This includes what the company claims it does best (known as core competencies), logos, policies and company culture. The corporate image sets the tome for the rest of the IMC program, giving the advertising messages a foundation.
Brands are the names generally associated with a product, group of products or a company. A brand name is meant to evoke a certain set of thoughts and feelings in consumers, and businesses can charge more for successful brand-name products. IMC creates branding and is aided by existing branding.
Market segments are sets of consumers grouped together because of similar needs, demographics, behaviors or characteristics. Marketers research segments to determine what types of products and messages appeal to them. Many elements of IMC plans are tailored to meet the requirements of specific market segments.
Crafting advertising messages to reach the target segment is essential to IMC plans. Different types of messages match up with the corporate image, branding and market segment preferences. Advertising may use elements such as humor, fear and taste to appeal to audiences. The more appealing the advertising, the more likely it will be to catch the attention of market segment members.
Markets must select the type of advertising mediums that will best feature the IMC and brand messages. Possible mediums include magazines, websites, radio and television. Media selection also involves determining the market segment’s preferred mediums.
IMC uses consumer promotional tools to enhance branding and attract market segments. Most consumer promotions involve short-term price lowering. Coupons, rebates, sales and bonus packs are examples of promotional tools. Other promotional tools include contests, sweepstakes and free samples.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) programs are designed to instill long-term loyalty in existing customers. CRM tactics include commitment to excellent customer service and keeping a record of current customers in a database to update them with frequent, personalized IMC messages.
Public relations protects the brand and corporate image by creating publicity that builds a positive impression of the company and by reducing the impact of negative events related to the business. Public relations activities include contributing to charities, sponsoring events and promoting environmental responsibility.