Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)
What is IMC?
Success in the modern business environment is often determined by the effectiveness of marketing strategies and the ability of companies to adapt appropriately to the ever-changing trends and consumer expectations. Throwing into the pot the numerous possibilities in social media marketing alone, which is becoming an increasingly relevant if not mandatory marketing tool, it is easy to imagine the countless ways of how things can go wrong.
One of the biggest pitfalls for companies who utilize marketing on different channels is the fact that more often than not the channels themselves are not sending the same message, resulting in confusion and lack of understanding for the target audience and consequently, ineffective and failed marketing campaigns. This is where IMC comes into play.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a strategic method which incorporates the various channels of your marketing department, such as PR, direct mail, email, digital and last but not least social media, unifying them under a clear and concise message.
Benefits of IMC
What then are the main benefits of IMC? Integrated marketing campaigns are very effective at reaching your marketing objectives and are simultaneously cost effective. This is due to the fact that such campaigns enable potential customers and users to effectively become your ambassadors, which means that they will be doing a share of the marketing for you and at the same time create a snowball effect resulting in free publicity for your product or service.
Another important benefit of such campaigns is that they reduce the costs of designing, developing and producing marketing materials. In the world of today, integrated marketing is widespread, which is one of the reasons for its usefulness, as it creates a better chance of your message coming across the global or local market. Last but not least, integrated marketing campaigns are great at creating relationships with your customer. To sum up, a unified marketing approach across all of your marketing channels yields a greater increase of ROI, in comparison to heterogeneous advertising.
Risks of IMC
What are some of the risks involved that you need to be aware of? Integrated marketing campaigns demand the cooperation of various departments in your organization, such as sales, design, different marketing departments and PR, to name a few. Prior to integrating your marketing message, you need to ensure that all parties and teams involved are on the same page and are working together towards the same objective.
What this means is that the individual stakeholders and teams will inevitably have to give up some of their control and ideas, so think carefully about whether or not they will be able to do so and come together as one, which is a make or break factor in such an endeavor. It is crucial to remind yourself and those involved about the shared purpose and intention when putting an integrated marketing campaign into motion.
Where to start?
Considering the fact that this sort of approach or outlook on marketing campaigns is still relatively new, it can be difficult to choose your first steps towards this sort of integration. A good way to begin this process would be to introduce and incorporate a new marketing channel or platform that can yield almost immediate positive effects and serve as an example of the possibilities and potential of integrated marketing campaigns, which will in turn motivate the various stakeholders to contribute willingly to this potentially arduous process.
One of the social media platforms that we cannot recommend enough and can serve this very purpose is Instagram, with which we are well acquainted with here at Epidemic. Instagram started off back in 2010 as a platform for sharing photos and has become an effective marketing tool. With a total of over 1.5 billion users worldwide it has become an omnipresent platform on social media.
Instagram or IG as it is commonly referred to allows certain users who create original and sought-after content to become influencers and attract a following of fans known as followers. There are different types of influencers present on IG, depending on the number of followers they have. The group that we find the most effective to work with are nano-influencers or nanos, who have a following from 1.000 to approximately 10.000. Influencers with a higher following such as celebrity influencers usually demand paid partnerships, as they are already well established. In contrast, nano-influencers welcome such collaborations as it allows them to build up their following and become relevant in their respective online and local communities. More often than not they will be happy to receive a free product and promote it for you without demanding additional fees for their cooperation.
The fact that nanos are not yet celebrity influencers will work to your advantage, as your target audience will more likely consider them as one of their own, making their (and your) message much easier to relate to and support. The content created by nanos is as well, much more unique and organic, which allows them to connect with your target audience more effectively. Nanos yield great engagement numbers, are cost effective, easy to scale and perform well in specific or local campaigns, due to the fact their following often comes from their local environment.
The success of marketing on IG is determined by sending a clear, easy to relate to and unified message to your target audience. Does that remind you of something? This is the exact prerequisite of IMC, which is why IG can be a great place to start this process. Achieving success in marketing on IG can inspire the various departments and co-workers to embrace change and welcome the integrated marketing approach with open hands. We would be more than happy to hear your thoughts or help you kickstart your journey towards IMC.
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