Integrated Marketing Communications
April 24, 2012 Leave a Comment
“Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate coordinated, measurable, persuasive marketing communications programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects, employees and other targeted, relevant, external and internal audiences. The goal is to generate both short-term financial returns and build long-term brand and shareholder value.” – Schultz and Schultz, 2004
Pretty heady stuff, yes … BUT … eight years later the same philosophy applies even though different forms of digital communications are exploding on the scene. It’s now clear that consumers have gained control of the marketplace, particularly in the communications area. They’ve determined what they want to see, hear, and process − and when.
It used to be said that you have less than 3 seconds to get someone’s attention when they receive your Direct Mail piece. But with the arrival of over 206 social media sites worldwide (that doesn’t include the defunct ones) the consumer’s attention span is shorter than ever. (Did you know that there is even one called vampirefreaks! There are more than 1.9MM registered users! Really?!?)
Each of these (maybe not the vampire one) competes directly with traditional forms of marketing communications for the time and attention of consumers, creating a new and more challenging issue for traditional direct marketers. Simply put, integration becomes not an integration of existing media forms but the integration of old and new media forms.
One of the primary challenges is that most marketing organizations are structured to talk, not to listen. Hearing what consumers have to say is, in many cases, a totally new concept to marketers who are accustomed to being in control. We’re used to communicating to them when we think it’s appropriate for them to hear our message. Clearly, in a marketplace where consumers now drive the dialog, it becomes critical for marketers to listen.
So now what do we do? One area which marketing has not fully addressed is how to overcome our favoritism to the 4Ps (Product, Price, Placement, Promotion) that permeates all marketing and communication concepts. Our practices supported by consumer behavior were developed and matured in a sophisticated, media rich, data intensive market where resources were readily available and managers had extensive marketing and communication training.
The switch to a totally integrated, push and pull, online and offline approach is required. Consumers have already made that leap but we marketers are finding it difficult. We always look for empirical data saying it “will” work so we can assure our clients that it “will” work. Getting the first client to take the leap into the Social Pool requires a lot of coaxing, a life-jacket, some swimmies and maybe a snorkel.
To be really relevant to customers and prospects going forward, marketers need to LISTEN, develop new concepts and approaches based on what the consumer is doing, where and when. That is where I believe the future of Integrated Marketing lies. Jump in folks, the water is fine.
Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.