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Edu Campaign: Why Integrated Marketing is the Future

Angela Sim

The current publication is part of a series of materials which aim to support the mission of “Marketing Education” Foundation to educate and assist other nonprofits, social enterprises, micro and SME to reach sustainability. “Marketing Education” Foundation with ID number 206149273 is a non-profit in public benefit registered in the Republic of Bulgaria (part of the EU) according to the LNPLE. The activities of the foundation are non profit, non-commercial only in accordance with its mission.

The days of simple advertising that generates quick conversions are long gone. Now promotional materials and ads are just a single element of elaborate marketing strategies that drive purchases and brand awareness both in large and small organizations. The influence of mass media is decreasing, the globalized flow of information makes marketing a two-way interactive stream of communication. It’s no longer a monologue of brands, but a dialogue among entrepreneurs, customers and communities.

Here comes the role of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC). In its essence, it’s a system that communicates consistent brand messages to large, versatile audiences using a number of marketing tools. The strategy must be cohesive among all channels of communication and be in sync with the core values of the organization.

Traditional advertising and promotion are no longer working because, thanks to the Internet and digital technologies, people are used to interacting with brands. It’s no longer enough to show them the features of products and services but to share their values and understand their problems.

Today, people are surrounded by a noisy environment of constant information flow. It’s increasingly hard for brands to make an impression and stand out. There is a need for forming a relationship with potential and current consumers and audiences. That happens by implementing an organization’s message in a variety of channels. People, especially those from younger generations, expect to be engaged in conversation and make their choices based not only on product quality but also on the brand’s values.

What are the Segments of Integrated Marketing Communication

As mentioned above, the IMC strategy uses a number of different channels and tools to deliver a message. That requires excellent communication and organisation among the different people working on the strategy and its implementation. A unified plan of action is key in creating and executing marketing and brand awareness strategies. Here are some of the essential components of an Integrated Marketing plan:

Advertising. Let’s begin with the most traditional way of promotion. Even though advertising is no longer enough on its own, it still holds a vital role in communication. A thoughtful and well-executed campaign with catchy copy and creative visuals still has potential.

And while years ago a great TV or newspaper ad was somewhat enough to convince people to act, now this is rarely the case. However, high-quality advertising that conveys the brand message can draw people’s attention and be the first step for them to get to know you.

Digital Marketing. In the age of technology and social networks, this is a pivotal moment in any marketing strategy. Again, it rarely does well on its own, but as a part of a larger branding strategy, it’s essential. People of all ages and social groups are now online. This is the most accessible and affordable way of reaching new and existing audiences. It’s also the fastest way to establish trust and begin a conversation. This segment of Integrated Marketing includes a number of channels of its own and a great brand strategy must account for all of them to drive results:

Web presence. First, your organization needs an online base – this is a website and/or app. This is where you’ll invite your audience. The copywriting and design with excellent user experience are key factors for the success of your web presence. Here is the base, where people can find detailed information about what you do, your values and causes.

– Copywriting and SEO. Major factors for better promotion of your web presence are the content of your website and how well it’s optimised for search engines. The first has the power to convert curious visitors into loyal customers, and the latter is what helps people find their way to your online base.

– Social Media Marketing. The majority of people of most segments of society are on at least one online social network. That is why Social Media Marketing is a powerful tool of any IMC strategy. Here you can run ads and reach wider audiences, you can provide well-thought organic content, and best of all, you can directly communicate with people, research their opinions and needs and get direct feedback.

– Email Marketing. It is another pillar of your online presence. One of the online forms of direct marketing, email campaigns allow you to get straight to your target audience’s inbox and communicate your message in a more private setting.

– Direct Marketing. Much like advertising, this is a form of traditional promotion that will always have its merit. However, today it’s more appropriate for businesses in more conservative niches.

Public Relations. Another traditional approach, which has been somewhat transformed in the past few years. PR involves marketing campaigns in the mass media, as well as online platforms. It can also include influencer marketing and use people’s existing audiences to convey your message.

All of these are channels that are part of the Integrated Marketing Communication. And while you don’t have to use all of them in order to create a rounder strategy, you should evaluate and consider a combination that will serve your brand and help convey your message to the right people.

Benefits of Employing an Integrated Marketing Strategy

Consistent and Clear Message

The key to a successful brand is its message and the right target audience. Thorough research and planning are essential. Once you come up with the message that best communicates your company values, you need to distribute it to your target audience of potential consumers. 

Using Integrated Marketing to spread your message allows you to cover a much bigger ground and reach larger diverse audiences. Meanwhile, delivering a clear consistent message across all channels makes your brand more credible and trustworthy. Creating a good message and communicating it through all marketing channels guarantees you excellent brand recognition and trust.    

Cost Efficiency

Having an Integrated Marketing strategy helps you save your financial resources in the long run. You only need to create your brand’s message once and then stick to it. The visual and written concept of your marketing strategy will need attention, time, and money to be created. But once you have them, they can easily be repurposed and circulated through all the channels of your integrated marketing plan. That will reduce the time and effort needed to create your message, and it will allow you to maximise your budget on distributing it. 

Building a Lasting Brand Image

When you have a cohesive message that goes seamlessly through your visual content, written copy and overall style, it gets much easier to build a lasting brand image. By implementing the distinctive visual representation and voice of your organization through various marketing tools, you make your brand recognisable and memorable to potential customers.

Complete Experience

As mentioned before, people’s behaviour has changed. Not everyone is watching TV all the time anymore; newspapers are on the path to becoming obsolete, even email and websites are being consumed differently. People expect to not only be sold on an idea but to be engaged and become part of an immersive experience. Interactive campaigns and two-way means of communication is what converts people into loyal users. 

If you use an integrated marketing strategy, consumers become part of the process of promoting your idea and cause. That, in turn, will make them feel more connected to your organisation.

Challenges of Integrated Marketing Communication

Requires exceptional levels of communication within the organization

To execute a working integrated marketing strategy, you’ll need a team that has excellent communication and is ready to work closely together to achieve common goals. Team players are key to the implementation of such an elaborate marketing plan. Everyone will have to have a clear and simple means of communication. They will have to be on the same page and be ready to amend their plan of action according to the overall strategy.

Detailed Project Management

Similarly, project managers need to be on top of their game. Executing an integrated marketing strategy requires exceptional time and project management skills. The coordination of marketing campaigns on different channels at the same time and with the same consistent message is challenging.  

Substantial initial investment

Although integrated marketing communication can be cost-effective and save you money in the long run, it still needs considerable initial investment. Getting all the creative assets – logo, graphic design, visual representation, written copy and initial online and offline advertising can be costly. The good news is that most of the content, once created, can be reused and redistributed for a long time afterwards.  

Why Integrated Marketing is Here to Stay

Digital media has imposed new customer behaviour and your marketing strategy needs to reflect this. Integrated marketing communication helps your brand become recognisable to a wider audience, build trust in your organization and have a long-lasting impression on people. Sticking to a consistent brand message and distributing it through various marketing tools attracts loyal customers. By creating an interactive and engaging experience for your audiences, you can turn them into ambassadors who are happy to share your message with the world.   

Sources:

1) Business2Community: 5 Reasons Why You Need an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy.
2) TechFunnel: Benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications.
3) Marketing Strategy Guide: Why has integrated marketing communications (IMC) become more important?
4) Management Study Guide: Managing Integrated Marketing Communication.
5) Purdue University Online: What is Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)?
6) Feedough: Integrated Marketing Communication – Meaning, Tools, & Examples.