Elements of Integrated Marketing Communication
Integrated marketing communications is not as intimidating as it sounds. It means that you take different components of communication, such as advertising, public relations, and marketing tactics, and coordinate them so they meet your business marketing objectives. Once you develop your communications plan, you devise strategies using each element that you — or your marketing staff, if you have one — determine will be the most effective at meeting your objectives.
You use public relations to create and foster relationships with publics that are important to you. It also builds a credible reputation and favorable image. Media relations is a common PR strategy, but it is not the only one, particularly in the days of social media. Social media sites can be effective relationship builders and give you the chance to demonstrate your responsiveness. It is also easy to integrate with other online and offline efforts, such as coupons, link exchanges to other sites, and postings of customer testimonials or new product announcements.
Advertising differs from public relations in that you pay the channel, such as a magazine, newspaper, television and radio station, or billboard company, to place your message. The cost allows you to control what you want to say, where you want to say it, and how often or how long it will be shown. Your advertising should reinforce the messages you convey through your public relations to increase comprehension and retention. It can also direct people to your website, or support sales promotions by broadcasting a discount or sales special.
Sales promotion techniques are elements that are part of your marketing and sales plan. Designing them to integrate with your other communications elements keeps your messages cohesive and can boost your promotion efforts. An in-store sales promotion of an add-on, for example, such as a week of product training with the purchase of a product, or a contest for the most creative product use, can be publicized through PR and supported in advertising.
Direct mail targets specific audiences, perhaps of a certain income level or within defined geographical boundaries, so that your efforts are more targeted. This strategy solicits action within a defined time period using mail items such as coupons with expiration dates, or seasonal catalogs. You can get creative with direct mail pieces and leverage that creativity with other communications. For example, you can design a wooden coin to include with your mailer that, if brought to your location within a certain time period, can be checked for a winning number for a free product. This can be promoted in-store, through advertising, and through your PR.
A well rounded marketing program utilizes the power of digital media and social branding. Digital marketing is divided into earned and paid media. Earned media uses content to gain loyalty and build an engaged audience. Paid media is advertising directly to the user for audience acquisition. Digital campaigns can measure granular performance track conversions while maximizing the use of available data.