8 Major Elements of Marketing Communication & IMC

by Barbara Bean-Mellinger; Updated April 09, 2018

Once upon a time, the question wasn't whether to advertise in print, but where, how big and how often. Then along came radio and TV, with audio and visual opportunities to have a star sing the praises of your product. In the 1980s, the upstart internet became a competitor for advertising dollars. Meanwhile, direct mailers reached out to decision-makers through the mail. It would be a decade before the American Association of Advertising Agencies declared that an integrated marketing campaign, applying a consistent message across numerous media, was the ideal marketing strategy.

Not-So-Traditional Print

Some will tell you that print is a dinosaur, hopelessly outdated and no longer of use in a world where everyone lives on digital devices. Yet, print media is alive and well. Not just print advertising, but all the printed materials that help salespeople close their deals.

People still subscribe to their business, hobbyist and dream publications and enjoy receiving them in the mail. They like holding them in their hands and turning the pages. It feels much more solid and substantial than "turning pages" on a computer screen.

It's hard to call a marketing plan fully integrated without some type of print. Instead of folding, print outlets have simply added a digital option, and profit by selling subscriptions to access it.

Radio and TV

Radio offers the distinct benefit of being easily targeted to local areas of an advertiser's market. Radio stations know their demographics, and media buyers can choose those that fit their target audience. For example, if your product appeals to young families, a "golden oldies" station might not be the place to promote it.

TV is ideal for big-name manufacturers who want to reinforce their brand or to announce a new product or promotion. Its broad reach assures that some of the huge audience will be fans of the product, and others may give it a try.

Smaller budgets with the right product might do well on late-night TV, which is much cheaper than prime-time slots. Even the commercials themselves scream low budget, but judging by how many "revolutionary" cooking devices, outdoor tools and sleep aids are sold this way, it works for the right product.

Direct Mail and Email

The history of direct mail marketing goes back at least to 1872 when Aaron Montgomery Ward mailed his one-page "catalog" to homes and people began to buy from it.

Successful mailers use digital data and internet browsing info to pinpoint their mailings to those who will be most interested, according to the Data and Marketing Association. They use bold graphics backed with statistics, and keep messages short and to-the-point. It isn't junk mail to the right audience.

Email marketing is another way of reaching buyers that data point to as likely to be interested in your product. It, too, relies on internet research to find the best potential customers. People receive lots of "spam" or unsolicited email, though, so marketers must make it interesting with bold ideas and appealing graphics.

Targeted Internet Ads

It makes sense to reach people where they are, and for this plugged-in world, that would be the internet, right? The problem is, the internet has become like a highway cluttered with roadblocks. With ads popping up continuously, and banner ads flashing, users are learning to tune out the "clutter." And the last thing you want is for your ad to be among the clutter.

With pay-per-click ads, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. If no one clicks, you're not out any money. You're not winning anything that way either, though.

When the internet is just one part of an integrated plan, professionals who understand how to use internet marketing can recommend where and how to advertise and leverage your other advertising so it all works together.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a great add-on, but should never be your only marketing method. So what if you have a Facebook page? Somewhere, you have to tell people to go to your page. Otherwise, it's like the tree falling in the forest.

And, social media is time-consuming. Ideally, it should be updated daily so people know to check it daily. You need continuous postings, a blog that changes frequently and updated photos.

If you don't have time to do all that, you need to hire a social media specialist; someone who understands what social media can and can't do.

Professional Websites

Many companies who put up a Facebook page believe it can substitute for a website. Rest assured, it cannot. A website establishes a company's legitimacy. And not just any website. It must be professionally done, packed with information, several pages long and easy to navigate.

A website isn't something you can do on your own unless you're a web designer. It's complicated and it takes time. But it is essential.

Public Relations

If you're working with a marketing group that doesn't offer public relations, they may leave PR out of your IMC. That's a mistake.

PR can get you publicity in ways you won't get on your own. But PR isn't just writing up a press release. Professionals have to then get your press release in front of editors of the publications that your potential customers read.

But editors get hundreds of press releases daily. Many times, the PR professional needs to call the editors and convince them to pull yours out of the pile. Then they must be ready to supply additional information and you, for an interview.

One-to-One Marketing

Convincing people one-by-one can be an expensive, time-consuming form of marketing. Sales calls are one such method. But other methods can help you reach many customers quickly.

Trade shows and conventions are packed with your target audience who can now put a face to your business. Now they know you, and you seem more trustworthy.

A good PR person can also plan an event for you, whether it's a book signing or a talk you give. They'll invite ideal targeted customers and the media. You'll be there to greet everyone, shake hands and network with everyone there. Pass out your business cards, talk up your benefits and hand out print materials.

That's how you integrate your marketing plan and use many media to full advantage.

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About the Author

Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

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