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Managing the Integrated Marketing Communications Process

The American Marketing Association defines integrated marketing communications (IMC) as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” This planning process evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines and combines them seamlessly to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum impact of messages.

Coordinating Media

Media coordination can occur across and within media types, but marketers should combine personal and nonpersonal communications channels through multiple-vehicle, multiple-stage campaigns to achieve maximum impact and increase message reach and impact. Promotions and online solicitations can be more effective when combined with advertising, for example.19 The awareness and attitudes created by advertising campaigns can increase the success of more direct sales pitches. Advertising can convey the positioning of a brand and benefit from online display advertising or search engine marketing that sends a stronger call to action.20

Most companies are coordinating their online and offline communications. Web addresses in ads (especially print ads) and on packages allow people to more fully explore a company’s products, find store locations, and get more product or service information. Even if consumers don’t order online, marketers can use Web sites in ways that drive buyers into stores.

Implementing IMC

Integrated marketing communications can produce stronger message consistency and help build brand equity and create greater sales impact.21 It forces management to think about every way the customer comes in contact with the company, how the company communicates its positioning, the relative importance of each vehicle, and timing issues. It gives someone the responsibility— where none existed before—to unify the company’s brand images and messages as they are sent through thousands of company activities. IMC should improve the company’s ability to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time and in the right place.22

 
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