The American Marketing Association defines integrated marketing communications (IMC) as “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” Integrated marketing communications is built on a cohesive storytelling telling approach at every point of customer contact. Let’s expand a bit upon the idea of touch points. It’s no surprise that mobile and tablets are increasingly becoming the tools of choice for entertainment, networking, and access to the information highway.
Today’s plethora of new technology means a landscape of multiple options for changing tastes and evolving markets. IMC specialists call this fragmentation. The available channels for reaching new customers are numerous with each commanding a strategic approach to capturing interest and attention. New tools mean new lingo and legitimate marketing challenges. How can brands expect to be all things to all people? Enter emerging ideas and techniques like responsive design, growth hacking, real-time marketing, and device agnosticism. These are fancy terms for the simple truth that individuals, brands, and organizations must accept today’s communication reality of increasing channel options.
Flurry, a mobile app analytics and advertising platform, measured 224 million monthly active users of mobile apps in the United States in February of this year. During the same month, comScore counted 221 million desktop and laptop users of the top 50 digital properties in the United States. From this, Flurry was able to conclude that the U.S. audience that is reachable through apps, albeit more fragmented, is now roughly equal to that which can be reached on laptops and desktops.
Let that soak in for a moment.
In terms of brand relevance and standing out from the crowd of marketing noise, choosing the right communication channels is critical. The good news is that an increasing number of students, industry specialists, and IMC champions are rising to the challenge of uniformity across multiple mediums. One such example is West Virginia University’s INTEGRATE conference.
It’s billed as the largest professional integrated marketing communications conference offered by a university program. Whether you are a seasoned professional, or someone who is considering enrolling in an IMC program, the INTEGRATE conference is a unique opportunity to explore the hottest topics in IMC.
In addition to industry events, there are numerous ways to build your IMC toolkit. The following are a few tips for becoming well-versed in the arena of integrated marketing communications:
- Join the conversation on twitter by following the #IMC hashtag.
- Expand your horizons. Think beyond traditional media.
- Know the tools available at your disposal.
- Focus on uniformity across all advertising.
- Read. Read. Read. (One recommendation is A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.)
With the right mindset and appreciation for channel orchestration, businesses can move into a position of strength in understanding the new meaning of ‘Place’ in the 4 P’s of marketing.