One of my favorite television shows is Food Network’s “Chopped.” Four chefs compete in a timed cooking competition where contestants open a basket of unrelated and often unconventional food items. Their goal is impressing the judges by quickly transforming the food in those baskets into a cohesive and delicious meal - appetizer, entrée and dessert. The winning chef takes home $10,000. In the marketing and advertising world, we do that every day. It’s called Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). IMC is the process of taking many different advertising tools and building a focused, cohesive marketing strategy, one that will be judged by consumers and hopefully pay off in increased revenue for the brand.
In a nutshell, Integrated Marketing Communications is taking all forms of communication and all promotional tools that are available, selecting those that are the right fit and seamlessly linking them in a way that gives a business or brand one consistent voice all the time - every time - no matter what the media outlet. When you consider all the options available, it’s very easy to lose track of a campaign’s focus. The risk is a watered down or disjointed message that confuses consumers. Confusion causes lack of trust. In business, lack of trust can hurt your bottom line.
Integrated Marketing melds all channels of marketing communication: digital marketing, social media, traditional advertising, sales promotions, marketing collateral, and email marketing and melds the individual tactics together with a customer-centric message. The hallmark of IMC is cohesiveness and a unified brand. IMC creates a seamless experience for customers from marketing to sales to service. When a brand experience is seamless across all channels, your company or brand experiences better return on your marketing investment.
Why is taking the time and effort required to focus on integration so important? Like the chefs in “Chopped,” each individual item in your marketing basket, in and of itself, is good. But ‘good’ isn’t the goal – not in the fickle cut-throat world of business and consumerism. What consumers are looking for is the right blend of ingredients that tastes the best to them, prepared in the right manner, delivered in a way that is appealing to their eyes, nose and taste buds. Each marketing channel is unique and has a distinct appeal. It’s not a once-size-fits-all world. A marketer’s job, particularly one with an IMC mindset, is to select the right combination for a specific target audience…and craft the message in a way that draws attention and invites the consumer to take the next step.
Without IMC, advertising is like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. You’ll buy a little of this and a little of that…whatever looks good in the moment. If you truly want ROI…it requires a step backward to consider the whole picture. Making the commitment to integrate your marketing and keep communication cohesive requires planning and strategy work. If that’s something you’re missing, check out our next blog on how to get started making IMC happen for your business.
It takes work, but like the final dishes served by professional chefs on the Food Network, success tastes AMAZING!