Hitting a Hole-in-One with Integrated Marketing Communications
May 29, 2012 2 Comments
Have you ever played a round of golf on a beautiful day? You tee up your shiny Titleist golf ball, grab your Big Bertha driver, take a few practice swings, and crush the ball several hundred yards down the fairway. Then you hop in your cart, drive down to the ball, pull out your 5 iron and hit the ball again, this time landing it a few yards from the green. Next you grab your pitching wedge and gently pitch the ball up on the green 2 feet from the hole. Triumphantly, you take your putter and finish the hole with a birdie (Tiger Woods fist pump optional).
So what does this have to do with marketing? Quite a bit actually.
Often when someone hears the word “marketing” they probably think of different marketing channels like TV ads, billboards, social media, packaging, etc. Each of these different channels has its own benefits and advantages for a brand. However, they each have shortcomings as well. That is why the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC) is so essential for every businessperson to understand.
Integrated marketing communications is the use of a variety of marketing outlets in unison to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communicative impact. The key to a good golf game is to pick the right club for the right situation. The same is true for an IMC strategy. Each element of an IMC strategy must have well-defined purpose and should support and extend the message delivered by the other elements. IMC seeks to use the unique advantages of each marketing medium to reach out to different segments of the target market and achieve marketing synergy.
A well-crafted IMC strategy is just like a golfer’s bag of golf clubs: each club (marketing channel) has a specific function in helping the golfer (brand) get his ball (message) to the hole (target market) with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.
Imagine trying to play a round of golf on a full course with just a driver and a 3 iron. While the golfer will be able to achieve a large reach, his accuracy and targeting will most likely suffer. On the flip side, if he just played with a pitching wedge and putter, his accuracy would by much higher, but his ability to reach the hole quickly is seriously hindered.
Many brands (especially small businesses) are notorious for taking the approaches of the golfers above: picking only one or two marketing channels and putting all their effort into them. This approach may be effective for some companies, but for the majority it falls short of accomplishing the marketing goals of the company.
In order to be successful, an IMC strategy must deliver the right message to the right audience through the right channels at the right time. Ultimate goal is to foster profitable long-term relationships not just short-term transactions. For example, Amazon loses approximately $10 on every Kindle Fire sold. Sound like bad business? Not really, the lower price appeals to the target market and Amazon will make up that $10 quickly through book, video, and music sales over the time the consumer owns the product.
Three Elements of IMC
1. Consumer- Choosing the right combination of marketing channels helps to move the consumer from awareness of a brand to a interest in investigating it to a desire to use it to actually taking action and making a purchase.
2. Channels- The different channel available for companies to choose from include advertising, public relations, sales promotions, personal/direct selling, direct marketing, and online marketing (including social media). Each has its own pros and cons (not to mention marketing budgets are limited), so the brand has to evaluate which channels can be used effectively in combination to get the message to the target market.
3. Evaluation- In order to know if the IMC strategy was effective it has to be evaluated. This process starts with formulating a strategic plan before the IMC is even launched with specific objectives, goals, strategies, and measures (this also helps to set the marketing budget). As the IMC strategy is implemented, its effectiveness can be measured against this strategic plan and adjusted as needed.
For an example of a very well-crafted (and inspirational) IMC strategy that not only produced measurable results, but also changed a country’s perception of its national soccer team, watch the video below from Telefonica in Colombia.
So, the next time you are playing or watching golf, hopefully it will remind you of the importance of integrated marketing communications for your business, non-profit, church, or personal brand.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
Want more information on crafting an IMC strategy, contact Lawson about consultation and speaking opportunities.