Integrated marketing communication is a strategic marketing effort that has rapidly grown in importance since it was first conceptualized. To better understand how integrated marketing works, it helps to understand the history behind it.
A term coined in 1989, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) began as a need to focus advertising efforts across several different promotional methods. By integrating communications across multiple marketing platforms, businesses discovered that each individual brand message was actually reinforcing the others. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, also called the 4 A’s, defined IMC as a marketing strategy that “…recognizes the value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines, advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion, and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.”
The need arose as a result of businesses realizing there were other more efficient and cost-effective ways to reach customers. Focusing advertising efforts in more ways became necessary for the growth of the business, but some quickly realized that consistency and integration between those efforts was just as important.
To achieve consistency, businesses had to establish a strong, common brand identity across all of their marketing communications. This meant identifying a brand voice, tone, and style that could be used to tie together the message seen in a print advertisement with that of a radio advertisement, or the message seen on a television spot with that of direct-mail flyer. This unified practice was the beginning of combining several marketing disciplines together with the goal of leveraging each communication channel’s strength.
In the beginning, this type of marketing only included PR, advertising, events, and direct marketing. However, as technology evolved, electronic media became an important aspect of integrated marketing. Integrated marketing allowed businesses to more easily shift their marketing strategy as technological advances occurred. As a result, IMC became an essential marketing method.
What does modern Integrated Marketing look like?
Today, integrated marketing incorporates all forms of marketing: blogging and content marketing, inbound and outbound marketing, social media marketing, PR and events, and SEM to name a few. This type of marketing must be tightly integrated and have brand and visual consistency. By utilizing integrated marketing methods, businesses experience greater success that is measurable by a higher number of leads produced and increased revenue via e-commerce sales. This highly-effective means of marketing is an efficient and lucrative way to market to a target audience.
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