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
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
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