Integrated marketing communications is an approach where all marketing communications received by a consumer about a brand have been planned out in order to deliver a relevant and consistent message about the brand in particular. To ensure this unified message is delivered, all the elements of your organization, from finance to HR to your sales staff, will need to coordinate and follow the integrated marketing plan instead of working separately. This results in an extremely clear brand message that will resonate strongly with your target audience, allowing you to control brand perceptions and increase customer loyalty. However, there are still many companies that do not practice integrated marketing communications which greatly reduces the effectiveness of all marketing efforts. Here are 5 reasons why integrated marketing communications has become more important than ever before.
- More points of contact – Previously, marketers would have a choice between print, radio and television for communication with consumers. While these are still very prominent methods of marketing that are still used today, there has also been a surge in new methods by which a brand can contact its consumers. For example, a customer hears about the high quality of your surfing products from one of his friends. The next time he goes online, he sees an advertisement about how long-lasting your products are. Two months later, he wants to buy a surfboard, and you have a new customer walking through the door. By delivering a consistent message through these multiple points of contact, you can effectively deliver the right perception of your brand to current and potential consumers. These points of contact include customer service, direct marketing, word-of-mouth and internet marketing.
- Specialized media channels – Today’s consumers have become more segmented than ever before. This is evident by the numerous media channels that exist to cater to extremely specific segments. There are television channels for children between ages 10-16, there are magazines for young female entrepreneurs and there are even websites that cater to owners of exotic reptiles. Through such specialized channels, brands can deliver advertising and promotions that can prove to be much more effective than traditional media outlets.
- Increasing link between brand choice and lifestyle – Through an integrated marketing communications approach, brands can be affiliated with a particular lifestyle, making their customer segment much more loyal. One obvious example would be Apple. While Apple is a brand for tech products like Mac computers and iPhones, a majority of its consumers are fiercely loyal to the brand as it resonates with their lifestyles. Apple has been able to deliver this strong brand image through delivery of a consistent brand message in all its marketing communications.
- Marketing has come to focus on data – Marketers are now able to use a massive amount of data about their target audience, allowing them to design extremely targeted campaigns that focus on a particular segment. To gather this data, they will need to coordinate closely with other elements of the organization. For example, the sales figures gathered by the sales department along with analytics from the company website can be used to find out the effectiveness of a particular online promotion.
- Competition has increased and customers are more valuable – Almost all marketers will be familiar with the rhetoric: it is much cheaper to market to an existing consumer than to acquire a new one. With the digital age and the internet making it much easier for entrepreneurs to start doing businesses, the competition has become stiff and so these existing customers are more valuable than ever before. To retain these customers, you should ensure that you share the same values, and integrated marketing communications is the best way to promote these values to them.