The concept of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) has been around since the late 1980s and has been embraced and enhanced over the years by both marketers and agency partners. Despite today’s rapidly evolving business and digital landscape, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) has prevailed as a strategic approach that aims to create a seamless and consistent brand experience for customers, which can help drive both growth and retention results.
Done well, the execution of an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy combined with maximising the use of owned and earned media over paid media channels means companies can achieve business and brand performance targets and gain efficiencies and significant savings in marketing spend.
Sounds good, but how often do we see this ‘done well’?
There’s no doubt at TrinityP3, we see many examples of highly effective integrated marketing campaigns being rolled out; however, it’s rare to see proper alignment across an organization where all divisions and/or functions are working seamlessly to deliver consistent and appropriate communications and experiences to customers and potential customers.
We regularly see examples where marketing teams find it easier to use paid media channels than align all parts of a business strategically, structurally, and culturally to realise the benefits of IMC.
Integration at every level
When discussing Integrated Marketing Communications or IMC, we’re not just referring to being channel agnostic or integrating your marketing messages across various channels. IMC focuses on the customer at every interaction or touchpoint, with every part of the organization driven towards achieving this together.
This is the hard bit, as there are often hundreds or thousands (depending on the size of an organization) of interactions and touchpoints where customers or potential customers can experience your brand and many parts of the organization involved in delivering them. Touchpoints across sales, distribution, customer service, online and IT platforms, retail networks, and product and service development contribute to how a brand is perceived. However, it’s where we see customers experience most of the disconnect between what a brand is saying from an advertising point of view and what they receive from an interaction or communication touchpoint.
Transformation allowing the execution of IMC
To achieve IMC, businesses must align their strategy, structure, and culture to ensure a unified, relevant, and compelling message. Almost every marketing team we work with knows this, yet we consistently hear them say how frustrated they are with a disjointed and misaligned business.
Different teams working towards different objectives lead to:
- Staff burnout, stress, and declining motivation
- Inefficient allocation of budget and resources
- Duplication of effort
- Customer-facing teams feel helpless and frustrated.
- Time spent dealing with conflict between internal teams rather than focusing on customers.
So how do you create harmony and move towards alignment?
We’ve found three key areas that affect the success of an Integrated Marketing Communication plan.
- Strategic Alignment
Aligning the business across all functions to understand and agree on where the organization is headed strategically. Once agreed upon, communicate these joint strategic goals, and translate them into objectives and plans.
- Structural Alignment
One of the most common issues we observe when working with organizations is siloed and disconnected structures getting in the way of plans and activity. Find the roadblocks and bottlenecks and reorganize the structures or processes around them to streamline activity and deliverables.
- Cultural Alignment
Shared values across teams and divisions are critical to the successful implementation of IMC. This seems obvious, yet we often see turf wars and different views on priorities playing out in our organisations.
Principles of an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy within your business
Once aligned, organizations can implement an effective IMC strategy by focusing on these key principles:
- Remaining customer-centric at the heart of everything the organization does.
- Understanding the purchase decision or mapping the customer journey to identify the touchpoint opportunities.
- Data-led strategies and activities – making data constantly inform sure decisions.
- Nurture your brand – educate your entire organization about all elements of your brand so they can live and breathe it alongside customers.