Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), according to The American Marketing Association, is “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.” Marketing Power Dictiona Integrated marketing communication can be defined as a holistic approach to promote buying and selling in the digital economy. This concept includes many online and offline marketing channels. Online marketing channels include any e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to latest web related channels for webinar, blog, RSS, podcast, and Internet TV. Offline marketing channels are traditional print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relations, industry analyst relations billboard, radio, and television.
Goal of Integrated Marketing Communications
A management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation. In practice, the goal of IMC is to create and sustain a single look or message in all elements of a marketing campaign. A successful integrated marketing communication plan will customize what is needed for the client based on time, budget and resources to reach target or goals. Small business can start an integrated marketing communication plan on a small budget using a website, email and SEO. Large corporation can start an integrated marketing communication plan on a large budget using print, mail order, radio, TV plus many other online ad campaigns.
Reasons For The Growing Importance of IMC
There have been many shifts in the advertising and media industry that have caused IMC to develop into a primary strategy for most advertisers
7 main shifts
From media advertising to multiple forms of communication (including promotions, product placements, mailers...)
From mass media to more specialized media, which are centered around specific target audiences.
From a manufacturer-dominated market to a retailer-dominated market. The market control has transferred into the consumer's hands.
From general-focus advertising and marketing to data-based marketing.
From low agency accountability to greater agency accountability. Agencies now play a larger role in advertising than ever before.
From traditional compensation to performance-based compensation. This encourages people to do better because they are rewarded for the increase in sales or benefits they cause to the company.
From limited Internet access to widespread Internet availability. This means that people can not only have access to what they want 24/7 but that advertisers can also target different people 25 hours a day.
SEKURU FRANCO (1968)highlighted the issue of marketing in relation to the stigma of sales.
Obstacles to Integrated Marketing Communications
Roles of Individual Media
This goal may appear simple but, for companies with different teams of people working on each element of the campaign, it can be a challenge to create effective advertising for all media using the same images and messages. Tactically, most marketers think the goal of each medium is different. For example, television ads are generally used for awareness generation, print to educate, and outdoor and radio to keep the message top-of-mind. In reality, the goal of all advertising, including packaging, is to sell.
 Identifying Best Marketing Elements
Even though the different elements in a campaign are designed to work together, that does not mean that all the creative executions will work equally well. This obstacle can be overcome by using advertising to identify the images and messages that will work best across media platforms. Marketers can use systems, such as the ARS Impact Campaign system (www.ars-group.com), to directly compare recall and persuasion scores across IMC vehicles and to understand synergies that make the whole IMC program more powerful than the sum of its parts. Simple, comparable metrics with a proven relationship to business performance make it easy for ad managers to make comparisons across media platforms.
Solution: Market Research
They are attention, branding, and motivation. An effective ad must capture the attention of the audience; it must be well branded so the consumer properly attributes the message only to the sponsor’s product or service; and it must motivate the consumer to move closer to the sale.
To see what additional metrics are important to each type of media, see Image 1 of this article.
Formula for Selecting Most Effective Marketing Elements
The goal of researching the elements of proposed integrated marketing communications is to create a campaign that is effective across media platforms. Some marketers may want only ads with the greatest breadth of appeal: the executions that, when combined, provide the greatest number of attention-getting, branded, and motivational moments. Others may only want ads with the greatest depth of appeal: the ads with the greatest number of attention-getting, branding, and motivational points within each.
In today's accoutable marketing environment, sophisticated marketers must focus on applying IMC to move consumers from "awareness" to "action". Therefore, in order to optimize IMC performance the testing system utilized must be able to factor the abilities of multiple brand contact points to generate recall and to persuade. A consistent metric system using these variables will greatly simplify interpretation of the metrics and illuminate synergies to be exploited with IMC.
Although integrated marketing communications is more than just the ad campaign, the bulk of marketing dollars is spent on the creation and distribution of the advertisements. Hence, the bulk of the research budget is also spent on these elements of the campaign. Once the key marketing pieces have been tested, the researched elements can then be applied to other contact points: letterhead, packaging, trucks, customer service representative training, and more, to complete the IMC cycle.
Some other creative marketing communications methods include: social marketing and green marketing may enhance or facilitate the marketing process of building relationship among stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, partners, communities, shareholders).