Integrated Marketing Communication In A Nutshell

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Understanding integrated marketing communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies.

Once upon a time, brands transmitted information to broad and somewhat untargeted sections of the population via television and radio. Marketing campaigns were very much a one-way affair, with products and services advertised to consumers with little consideration for their particular needs or wants.

The term “integrated marketing communication” was coined in 1989 as businesses started to realize that a unified brand message across multiple platforms would reinforce the brand itself. There was also a realization that other forms of advertising were more cost-effective and essential to facilitating growth.

Integrated marketing communication is a strategic approach to marketing integration. It takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. To that end, IMC can be used to create clear and consistent communication across:

  • Owned media – customer service, direct messaging, social media, and user experience.
  • Paid media – direct marketing and offline or programmatic advertising.
  • Earned media – organic search (content marketing), public relations, and social media influencer outreach.

Integrated marketing communication examples

To better understand how a brand message may be unified and made more consistent, let’s take a look at a few real-world examples.

Domino’s AnyWare campaign

Domino’s realized that when its customers were hungry, they desired a simple pizza ordering process where they could avoid having to select from an exhaustive list of toppings or repeatedly be required to enter their credit card information.

To streamline the process, the Domino’s AnyWare campaign created a zero-click order process with pizza profiles for each customer and their favorite orders saved in the system. To make ordering pizza even more convenient, consumers can now order from multiple platforms including Messenger, Slack, Google Home, and Alexa. 


Chocolate bar manufacturer Snickers launched the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” advertising campaign with celebrity cameos depicting how an ordinary person would turn into someone else when they were hungry.

The campaign launched on television and then spread to print advertisements, social media, and the product itself, where words such as “savage” and “hangry” occupied the space where the normal label would be. After a 2015 Superbowl ad featuring celebrities such as Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi, there was an 18,000% increase in YouTube searches for Snickers chocolate bars.


The social media app Snapchat released a line of glasses in 2016 that allowed users to take photographs or create videos and upload them to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

To create buzz around the product, the company engaged in a marketing campaign where vending machines known as “Snapbots” were installed in select cities around the world. Each machine sold glasses for $129.99 and became a place where fans could converse about the product while they waited in line.

Snapchat cleverly used integrated marketing communication to blend a physical vending machine with its digital app. The company attracted more attention to the product than if it had used the app in isolation and, through word of mouth, created a positive feedback loop where social media buzz built on itself as more consumers wanted a piece of the action.

Types Of Marketing Connected To Integrated Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing

Email marketing leverages a set of tactics to build a stronger brand, drive traffic to your products, and build a solid funnel for converting leads into loyal customers. While email marketing isn’t new, it’s still one of the most effective marketing strategies to build a valuable business.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves the marketing of products or services that leverages the popularity, expertise, or reputation of an individual. Influencer marketing is often associated with those who have large social media followings, but popularity should not be confused with influence. Influence has the power to change consumer perceptions or get their audience to do something different.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

E-commerce Marketing

E-commerce marketing is part of the digital marketing landscape, and beyond, where e-commerce businesses can enhance their sales, distribution, and branding through targeted campaigns toward their desired audience, convert it into loyal customers which can potentially refer the brand to others. Usually, e-commerce businesses can kick off their digital marketing strategy by mastering a single channel then expand for a more integrated digital marketing strategy.

Buzz Marketing

Buzz marketing leverages the power of word-of-mouth advertising to create products or services with enough novelty that they go viral. In many cases, buzz marketing leverages on versatile content that can easily scale and be readapted to various contexts and fear of missing out (FOMO) to amplify the effect of word-of-mouth campaigns.

Shotgun Marketing

Shotgun Marketing
Shotgun marketing is a form of above-the-line (ATL) marketing, where popular mediums such as TV and radio are used to market to a mass audience. This technique of marketing targets as many consumers as possible. Also known as mass marketing, the technique attracts a large number of leads that, on average, might be of lower quality in nature.

Multichannel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Partnership Marketing

With partnership marketing, two or more companies team up to create marketing campaigns that help them grow organically with a mutual agreement, thus making it possible to reach shared business goals. Partnership marketing leverages time and resources of partners that help them expand their market.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

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