“Carefully products”, this is the definition of integrated

“Carefully integrating and coordinating the company’s many
communications channels to deliver a clear, consistent, and compelling message
about the organizations and it’s products”, this is the definition of
integrated marketing communications (IMC) given by Philip Kotler, the Father of
Modern Marketing (Kotler and Armstrong 2016:695). A very direct and
understandable explanation for IMC, but as most definitions, it doesn’t give
the whole picture, therefore still leaving some of you out there wondering if
you truly understand IMC, what are its components, how important is it in the
modern world of marketing, and many other questions. That’s why we are here
today to discuss IMC in general, the importance of implementing effective IMC
programmes, and hopefully answer all, if not most of your questions about IMC.

Marketing
Communications (Marcoms)

How can we talk about IMC without introducing the most
fundamental part of it: marketing communications, or otherwise known as marcoms.
Author Chris Fill defines marcom as “an audience-centred activity, designed to
engage audiences and promote conversation” (Fill and Turnbull 2016:20).
Basically, if marketing is the process of organizations talking to you, then
marcoms is the medium used by them to talk to you.

Figure 1: Shannon & Weaver (Communication
Theory 2017)

 

There are
several different models that organizations use to communicate with you, two of
them being Shannon & Weaver model (1948) and Schramm’s model (1954).

Shannon and Weaver model establishes that the elements of
a  communication process includes sender,
encoder, channel, decoder, receiver, and noise (Communication Theory 2017). Schramm’s model further develops this model by
focusing on the quility of linkage between each stage, as noise can occur at
any stage of the communicaiton process, misguiding the receiver from
understanding the accurate meaning of the message (Eagan 2015:30).

          Audience includes any individuals or
parties that would be effected by the organizations activities, also known as
stakeholders. Organizations have the constant need to initiate conversation
with stakeholders as they are a fundamental element within the business
environment. There are many reason an organization would need to communicate
with stakeholders, such as increasing awareness,  promoting a product or brand, or even just
purely sending a statement. A good example would be Uber, who constantly come
up with interesting public relations(PR) stunts to gain more awareness among
its audience, and conducting sales promotions(SP) to boost sales, such examples
include, using drones to promote UberShare during a traffic congestion (Hawkins
2016), and partnering with well known football club Manchester United to
promote their service among sports fans (Uber 2017). From this example from
Uber, it’s also worth noting that in the present business environment, it isn’t
as beneficial as the past for businesses to only implement a single marcom
tool, that’s why modern businesses such as Uber implement IMC, we will go
further into this topic later in the article.

Marcom and Stakeholders

First,
let me explain further into the concept of ‘stakeholder’. Stakeholders could be
categorised into internal and external stakeholders, internal stakeholders being
employees, shareholders, managers; external stakeholders being suppliers,
consumers, government and local communities. As said earlier, these parties
would be effected more or less by business activities, but it’s also noted that
they could effect business activities as well, especially marketing activities.

First,
let us start with employees. 
Organizations should always make sure employees understand and implement
brand philosophy and stick to the already built brand image, such as having
staff training and providing employee discounts along side SP strategies
targeted towards employees, this could initiate interest about the brand and
motivated to understand the brand more, this also gives the employees a sense
of belonging to the company.

If
an organization is large and publicly known, such as many public listed
companies, shareholders are seen as equal to the company and their image could
also effect the image of the company. One example would be when Apple’s CEO Tim
Cook admitted he was homosexual in 2014, this gave a good image to Apple as a
company that accepts LGBT minorities into our modern community (Cook 2014).
Normally, communication with shareholders are taken out in the form of PR, such
as Annual General Meeting between the company and shareholders.

We
can’t forget the impact of external stakeholders, especially the government.
The main role government plays in effecting a marketing strategy is through
legislation, which would censor  contents
from advertisings, or forbid the use of unethical marketing tactics such as
exploiting peoples fears to promote sales. Breaking any legislations regarding
marketing methods often results in hefty fines for the organizations, and would
have a bad impact on the organizations image. Communications between
organizations are normally not well known by the general public, but includes
ways such as lobbying or government meetings.

Every
organization has a certain effect on their local communities, these effects
could be both beneficial and harmful. If an organization has harmful effects
towards its local community, it could give the organization a bad brand image
of being unethical, this could have a ripple effect and cause consumers to
boycott the brand. Such crisis are often followed by an intense reactive
marketing attempting to minimise the harm of a bad image, and if possible, save
the brand image. Organizations could also improve its communications with local
communities by having PR activities targeted to them, or even having corporate
social responsibility (CSR) announcements in the form of advertisings (AD) or
PR activities. Although so, it should be noted that planning CSR announcements
will not have direct profit return as its main purpose is to improve corporate
image and not promote sales.

I
would say suppliers and consumers are any businesses most important
stakeholders, as they fulfil the need of input and output of the business. In
the modern age of e-marketing, the main medium business use to communicate with
these two stakeholders is through business websites, this allows a both parties
to have an interactive communication, it also allows businesses to receive
statistics regarding their sites dwell time and dwell rate, which are both
tools of evaluation for e-marketing. Although establishing a business website
is cheap and it is a very effective medium, it takes great effort to design and
maintain a website, this might increase operational cost, decreasing net
profit. Other strategies used to communicate with consumers include marketing
tools such as PR, SP, AD, personal selling (SP), direct marketing (DM), and
word of mouth (WoM). These tools could be used individually as a marketing
strategy or could be integrated to maximise their effects, becoming an IMC
strategy.

Marcom Mix (Components that form an IMC strategy)