Business

IMC, still a hot topic

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) remains one of the hottest topics when it comes to operating a business. By getting it right, it can give you a greater advantage over your competition. However, the challenge is in both the planning and execution.

With the ever evolving and rapidly changing consumer landscape, businesses face the on-going need to be able to select the right plan and approach to get out their message.

Here are just a few examples of what marketers are facing when trying to sell their products or services.

First of all is the shift in buying power to the consumer. Their choices today are in many instances just a click away. This leads to the proliferation of media choices and the number of marketing channels that are available.

Included in all of this is the rise in use of social media and the ability to search the Internet. This to a great degree has resulted in a huge change in buying behaviour and decision making.

It is essential that businesses understand how all these forms of communication are linked. Even more important they must realize that the entire concept of an integrated marketing and communications plan must be able to deliver a consistent and compelling message.

While it may sound like you need a GPS enhanced roadmap to point you in the right direction, it does not have to be that complicated. What it does mean though is that you need to be able to establish a key set of strategies so that you are not over extending your capabilities or resources.

What this amounts to is fairly basic, knowing who your customers are, who your best prospects may be and what you can offer that no one else can provide. Of course within these three elements there is a little more depth that needs exploring.

For example in the case of your current customers, what are their demographics, age, lifestyle, interests, needs and wants. If there is consistency there then your best prospects are going to have similar traits so how are you going to reach them? Where do they get their information? Where do they live?

Getting the answers to establish a customer profile will lead you to being able to select the right communications vehicles, the right mix of sales promotion, advertising, direct marketing, social media, Internet, etc. The one thing to remember is that you may not need to use every form of communication.

You need to find the right combination of paid, owned or earned media. In a nutshell paid is media you buy, like from this newspaper, owned is media you control like your website or social media, earned is when someone else puts out the word on your behalf.

Throughout all of this it must be stressed again that your messaging is important. How you speak, how you act, how you present yourself, how you create an image right from printed materials, to signage to your Internet presence, in other words your brand. It is the integration of all these elements that sets you apart from everyone else. This is what IMC is all about.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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