Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
The integrated marketing communications plan is an approach that achieves the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other. It is successful within B2B and B2C companies and can be used by small retailers who can’t afford to outsource marketing, large global brands to even non –profit organisations, this model is applicable to cater for many companies.
Within the IMC plan, the company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communication channels to deliver clear and consistent messages about the organisation and product or service.
The plan involves getting a communication message to a customer; this message has to be clear, consistent and compelling. The process of the IMC is important for better managing the communication mix with target audiences and maintaining a strong market position through brand differentiation.
Planning provides direction for creating and delivering brand messages, it provides new opportunities for advertising agencies and for companies to create added value for their customers and ensures that the message being delivered to consumers and clients can be monitored every step of the way.
Belch G. & M. Belch suggest that the IMC process consists of six steps outlined below:
1. Contextual or Situational Analysis
The first stage of the IMC planning process is to conduct a situational/ contextual analysis. This can involve a SWOT analysis and an external and internal environmental analysis.
2. Target Markets
You need to decide who your target markets are, map them on a demographic and psychographic level. Then you need to decide what the benefits are to the consumer and why they would use the product.
3. Communication Objectives
The third step of the IMC planning process is to decide what the communication objectives are. These are objectives that your company wants to communicate to the public and their target audience. Some examples of these are;
- Develop brand awareness
- Change customer beliefs
- Enhance brand image
- Increase sales
- Reinforce purchase decisions
The types of budget that companies have can vary. These can be, a percentage of sales, competitive partially, percentage of profit, a budget depending on objectives and tasks and how much the company can afford.
5. Marketing Mix Strategy
The marketing mix is selected in line with the communication objectives and within lesion with the budget selected.
6. Evaluating the Programme
The final step of the IMC planning process is evaluating the programme. This can be done by certain social media metrics, by analyzing online traffic with the use of Google analytics, by sales and social media tools that allow you to track engagement with certain items.
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