Chapter 10 – Integrated Marketing Communications
- Understand what integrated marketing communications are.
- Understand why companies may change their promotional strategies to reach different audiences.
Once companies have developed products and services, they must communicate the value and benefits of the offerings to current and potential customers in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. Integrated marketing communications provide an approach designed to deliver one consistent message to consumers through a company’s promotions that may span media from TV (cable, broadcast, satellite and internet) radio, magazines, websites, mobile phones, professional selling, and social media. Delivering consistent information about a brand or a company establishes it in the minds of consumers and potential customers across target markets. ‡
Watch the following two YouTube videos. Although the messages are very similar, Campbell’s uses the same tag line and strategy delivered through different creative designed to target different consumers.‡
In 2021, not only do companies provide messages to consumers but consumers are easily able to interact with companies and other consumers through social media. With access to many sources of information, consumers may be exposed to information that contradicts the information that the company wants them to know. Reddit is one example of an informal online community that exchanges information, comments, available deals and criticisms about companies. If we look up Bell and Rogers, Canadian telecommunication companies, we can find criticism and comments about them. Here is examples from Reddit about Bell and Rogers.‡
Thus, marketers must not only organize and assemble available information to build a consistent brand message and make it relevant, but also monitor and respond to what customers are saying. Using integrated marketing communications, companies can coordinate their messages to build the brand and develop strong customer relationships while also helping customers satisfy their needs.
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is the most visible way that that company communicates its strategies. IMC is defined as ‘an audience-driven business process of strategically managing stakeholders, content, channels, and results of brand communication programs (Kliatchko, 2008, p.140).‡
IMC evolved from a tactical approach to harmonizing the various promotional tools such as advertising, sales promotion, and public relations to its current position as a strategic management tool. The main purposes of IMC are building customer relationships, managing brand equity and communicating social responsibility initiatives (Faroudi et al., 2017).‡
To illustrate how companies strive to maintain a consistent image across different platforms, consider the example of Ritz Crackers. The company uses the tagline ‘a taste of welcome’ on its websites, social media and traditional advertising. It is important to the company to represent diverse groups in its advertising and ‘a taste of welcome’ works well for communicating the company’s core values. Their “Where There’s Love, There’s Family,” which is an LGBTQ-inclusive commercial that aired during the December holiday season, was part of a partnership with The It Gets Better Project, Hispanic Star, and Invisible People (Ritz Crackers, n.d.).‡
Continuing to expand the company’s knowledge around how to use the various media types effectively for their particular target audience is a critical part of a marketer’s job. Digital includes advertising that appears on desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile phones, tablets, and other internet-connected devices in all formats. Traditional advertising spend includes advertisements that appear in paper directories, magazines, newspapers, out-of-home (e.g. billboards), as well as broadcast and cable radio and television. With consumers engaging with digital and traditional media, companies have been shifted their focus to digital channels. In 2020, companies operating in Canada spent almost 63% or 9.1 billion dollars of their total ad spend on digital advertising (Briggs, 2021). This is forecast to grow to 69% of total spend or 13.14 billion dollars by 2024. ‡
In the past, companies had many advertising vehicles to choose from and no one company dominated the advertising space. In 2019, the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project reported that Google and Facebook accounted for 81% of the internet advertising market. Why is this significant? It is significant because these two companies have the ability to control the content, apps and messages that gain prominence based on the price that a company is willing to pay. It means that they have the power to violate the privacy and data protection wishes of people, companies and governments (Winseck, 2020). It is important to consider the impact of this on Canadian society.‡
Companies like the immediacy and interactivity of digital media and because they are able to know much more about the attitudes and behaviors of their customers. However, consumers tend to feel more comfortable with the trustworthiness and accuracy of traditional advertising. Between 65% and 74% of Canadian adults, 18 plus report feeling comfortable with advertisements displayed on traditional media outlets. These numbers starkly contrast with consumers’ trust in advertisements on digital media outlets (between 10% and 36%). One potential reason for the low trust level observed on digital outlets is that consumers do not want companies to have so much information about them. To consumers, it can feel like an invasion of their privacy (Ad Standards, 2018).‡
Many companies and researchers have found that media used in combination (i.e., digital and traditional together) is more effective. A study conducted by Ostler (2021) concluded that no single media mix is best for all brand outcomes. However, there are some clear lessons on which channel mixes work best for specific brand objectives. For example, while spending heavily in television and newspapers are generally most effective in increasing awareness, the combination of television, Facebook and outdoor drives motivation and association. Consideration is most effectively created with television and YouTube. ‡
Think about what Air Canada is trying to accomplish with this campaign.