What Is IMC? and Why Does It Matter?
What is integrated marketing communication (IMC)?
The definition of IMC is “the concept under which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communication channel to deliver a clear, consistent message” – Philip Kotler (Friis, 2010)
The reason why IMC plays such a big part of the marketing strategy today is due to the fact that with the advancement in modern technology, it has offered consumers and marketers alike more platforms to connect and convey with one another. With each new platform created, it offers a brand new channel of marketing stream available to every organization in the world regardless of being big or small. With the introductions of so many new channels it allows companies to communicate with their customers at a faster pace and with ease. However, it also means more noises has been created in the environment surrounding the target audience because of the shire number of company jumping the gun on the opportunities technology has presented.
The best example of technology introducing new platforms for marketers to reach their customers that would be the most relevant is the idea of the social media platforms. Before Facebook and Twitter took the world by storm, there wasn’t even a platform called “social media”. Sure, there was myspace but to be honest, the impact of myspace on the marketing world was not even close to what Facebook and Twitter has done for both marketers and consumers. These social media platforms were new to marketers, companies that took the first initiative to incorporate Facebook and Twitter into their marketing strategy has taken a huge risk because there weren’t any historical data that could back up the return on investment for these platforms. Therefore, companies that considered Facebook and Twitter in their communication strategy has evaluated the platforms to be included in their IMC strategy. In this technology driven age, the digital world is like a huge playground that consists of large uncharted territories for marketers to venture into; it offers big rewords for those who dares and succeeds, but also a huge risk for those who fail.
With so many more marketing channels to consider nowadays, company defiantly has to have a strategy to manage and optimize each platform. With that being said, let me introduce the new rules concerning IMC strategies. Traditionally when someone is asked to think of the four words of marketing, naturally they would relate to the 4’Ps of marketing which are: product, place, price, and promotion. However, because of the marketers’ new found respect for communication there are now the 4’Cs of marketing which are: coherence, consistency, continuity, and complementary. (Insights, 2013)
- Coherence – different communication are logically connected
- Consistency – multiple messages support and reinforce, and not contradictory
- Continuity – communication are connected and consistent through time
- Complementary – Synergistic, or the sum of the parts is greater than the whole
In order to create a successful IMC campaign, the marketing team has to create a message that is consistent throughout all channels both online and offline, the message has to make sense and support the bigger picture throughout the campaign’s life span, and lastly the big picture of what will result at the end from the communication campaign that has been implemented.
In a very recent example of the 4’Cs that failed to create value for the company happened back in March of 2014 that I’ve covered before in my previous blog. Samsung, the telecommunications company has acquired NBA all-star LeBron James to be their ambassador for their new smart phone. Mr. James has been experiencing technical difficulty with his smartphone, instead of consulting technical support he decided to take his frustration onto Twitter and tweeted his thoughts about the new phone to his 12 million followers “My phone just erased everything it had in it and rebooted. One of the sickest feeling I’ve ever had in my life!” (Yarow, 2014) As the ambassador of the phone who was acquired to promote it, Mr. James instead bashed the brand and the phone which obviously did not please Samsung. Soon after, the NBA all-star deleted his tweets of frustration and replaced it with “Close call, Wheew! Got all my info back” (Yarow, 2014). Acknowledging the mistake, Mr. James has swiftly fixed his blunder; however, for a very brief moment 12 million people has seen the faultiness of the new smart phone from Samsung. This example emphasize that, the 4C’s are very much a part of the marketing strategy no matter which part of the strategy it belongs to. Even external party that has ties with the brand should be accountable and responsible to carry out the 4C’s in order to better convey the universal message and the big picture.
Moreover, sometime in a business, when revenue or sales decline, it doesn’t necessarily imply there is a problem with the product itself. With the classic marketing failure example of Coca-Cola’s New Coke campaign; in 1985 when Pepsi was graduating gaining more market share from Coca-Cola, the company decided to introduce new flavor of Coke that will replace their current product. Coca-Cola conducted tests with focus group, and the results showed people were more favored towards the new Coke than Pepsi and their current product [at the time]. Therefore, based on the results they replaced their old product with New Coke, instead of positive feedback, they were bombarded with negativity and the desire for their old recipe. The company took swift actions to reintroduce the old recipe and launched a new campaign as “Classic Coke”; the results were exceeding expectations and even gained some of the lost market share. This example demonstrates that sometimes there aren’t any problems with the product but customers are just bored with what the company has to say about the product. With a new launch of IMC campaign that communicated a different message consumer has yet to be seen before, it may reinvigorate their desire for the product without actually changing it.
Not every company has the capital of a Samsung to hot fix their communication inconsistency or to be lucky enough to find a silver lining in their marketing mistake like Coca-Cola. Therefore, a company has to carefully analysis their communication channels and strategies in order to carry out the 4C’s of communication so that their campaign would be optimized and have a positive impact on their organization and add value for both the customer and the company.