Everything to Know About Integrated Marketing Communications Plans – Part 1

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This blog is the first of a three-part series introducing the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC), its need, and the way to develop an IMC plan.

A definition of marketing accepted by the American Marketing Association in 2017 explains it as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

From this definition, we can see that creation, communication, delivery, and exchange of offerings are all equally important and form the marketing mix comprised of four Ps — product, promotion, placement, and price — that align with each of these subprocesses. IMC comes under promotion, understood as all the activities that will communicate to customers the benefits of an offering, and convince them to purchase it.

Benefits of an IMC

Management of marketing communications requires planning, execution, evaluation, and control of the different types of promotional tools and channels available to communicate with the targeted audiences. At the start of any business, a business plan and a marketing plan are necessary. Still, an IMC plan is also needed. It lays out the marketing messages that will be delivered in a consistent voice using a 360-degree approach, which is the adoption of the various marketing channels at your disposal that will achieve the different marketing objectives or goals.

When it comes to operations, IMC provides a guideline to stick to, without having to double one’s efforts or incur added costs. With branding, IMC provides coherence to the brand image, thereby building better brand equity. For customers, IMC not only helps build awareness but manages their expectations of an excellent experience. At the same time, when it comes to market competition, it positions the company uniquely to improve sales and profitability.

IMC Planning

IMC planning starts with a situational analysis that looks at the market landscape where the business operates and identifies the goals and objectives. The market landscape includes noting what the competitors are doing — not to replicate what they are doing but to set themselves apart. Most often, creativity in marketing campaigns lends the first mover advantage and increases sales and profits.

Some of the most common marketing goals revolve around creating awareness in the target audiences, inducing trials of existing or new products, and/or boosting sales. However, there can be others specific to different businesses. After a situational analysis is completed, objectives of marketing communications are identified. Next, marketing communications strategies are devised around specific objectives and the right communications mix, and scheduling and budgeting are determined before implementing, monitoring, and controlling the IMC plan.

In the next part of this series, we will look at the details of IMC planning and understand how the RACE framework can help one develop an IMC plan.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

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