The American Association of Advertising Agencies defines Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) as a method of achieving marketing objectives through integrating various promotional techniques like advertising, personal selling, public relations and communication (Integrated Marketing Communications, 2016). This calls for business organizations to give customers something beyond advertising. With average customers exposed to various advertisement messages for a same product, a single message of a particular brand finds it difficult to establish a noteworthy effect in the minds of customers. Therefore, a shift to IMC approach gives marketers a competitive advantage in the light of increased customer awareness about various advertising procedures, policies and techniques. The popularity of the mass media and internet is all the more convenient for marketers to practice IMC. For instance, Coca Cola implements IMC with a view to keep in touch with its customers and be part of their daily lives. The company connects with the emotions and beliefs of the public by raising funds for different social causes like hurricanes and earthquakes.
Kotler and Armstrong (2012) define IMC as a meticulous integration and coordination of an organization’s different channels of communication to give a clear, compelling and consistent message about the products and services of the organization. IMC stresses on recognizing all the possible touch points customers are likely to encounter every day. It is up to the company to deliver a positive and consistent message at all the touch points. IMC also binds together all the images and messages about the products of the company. For instance, Haagen- Dazs, makers of premium ice cream famously proclaim the company’s love for honey bees, which is centered on a matter equally important to both the company and its customers as a strange collapse of honeybee colonies was threatening the US. The company spreads its unique and consistent message through integrating various attractive promotion elements. The company also reveals a truth to the public that honeybees pollinate nearly one third of the natural food Americans use and 40 percent of the flavoring agents used to make its ice cream brand (Kotler and Armstrong, 2012). This compelling message gives a strong appeal to the public to conserve honeybees besides strengthening Haagen- Dazs’ bond with the customers.
IMC, as customer focused promotion tool appeals to the customers through several facts and figures. Through integrating all possible communication tools, functions, avenues and sources into a flawless program that increases the impact of the brand on all segments of customers, IMC significantly plays a role in popularizing the promotion campaign while considerably reducing the cost of product promotion. IMC takes the product message to a larger audience when compared with other traditional promotion methods. Through its emotional appeal, IMC develops a trust with customers, who always show high brand loyalty. Marketers need not worry much about competitors breaking away the brand loyalty since it is very difficult as all the tools including advertising, public relations and direct sales are applied simultaneously. IMC always focuses on maintaining healthy long-term relationship with existing customers besides winning new customers. IMC helps marketers to reach swiftly to customers because of the relationship advantage. IMC also considerably saves the time of customers in checking about various services provided by an organization since the message is uniform, and available at various contact points. It is also easier for a new customer to learn about the products and services offered by a company through word of mouth from a loyal or new satisfied customer. For example, a customer of Starbucks must have shared his experience with a friend through word of mouth, who checks all the details online before taking his date to enjoy the unique experience. Starbucks conveniently appeals to customers regularly to establish a strong brand image. All Starbucks stores, regardless of their location, have very familiar store front, feel and friendly ambience. Even though a person is in an entirely strange town, thanks to the appeal of Starbucks to the global audience through its IMC strategy, sitting in a Starbucks outlet and seeing someone walking with a typical coffee cup gives a familiar and homely ambience. Similarly, for someone driving, a logo displayed on the roadside would remind that a friendly Starbuck store is nearby.
Integrated Marketing Communication reduces interdepartmental conflicts, costs and duplication of attempts of various departments within the organization. At the organization level, through the uniform communication mix, IMC establishes a strong brand loyalty and a higher return on investment toward campaigning. Overall, it provides consistent and clear brand messages to customers.
Integrated marketing communications (2016). Business Dictionary Online. Retrieved from http: //www.businessdictionary.com/definition/integrated-marketing-communications-IMC. html 2014
Kotler, P and Armstrong, G. (2012). Principles of Marketing. New York : Pearson.