Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a concept “officially” formalized in 1989.
Although released 25 years ago, the buzzphrase is only now rising to the top of communications conversations. This has a lot of people asking, “What is IMC, and what does it mean?” It also has a lot of marketing, advertising and public relations wondering what their futures will look like, especially as the concept continues to build momentum.
Here’s my definition of integrated marketing communications, and where I see it’s role in the future.
IMC is an Overarching Philosophy
The easiest way to think of integrated marketing communications is as an overarching philosophy that unites marketing, advertising and public relations with centralized goals, strategies and brand consistency.
Tearing Down Traditional Walls
The above being said, this approach tears down the fortified, high-standing walls traditionally built between marketing, advertising and public relations professionals.
It’s not only common for companies to have separate departments for marketing, advertising and public relations, but terribly enough, these departments often have serious issues communicating with one other. This causes them to act independently from one another and can create serious brand messaging issues.
In the world of integrated marketing communications, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals exist in one department. They’re overseen by a managerial team that unifies the efforts and goals into a consistent, powerful stream.
Unified efforts go even further–each set of tactics under the traditional three practices are built to reinforce and support one another.
Integrated marketing communications is needs based. If your organization doesn’t require a particular tactic under the marketing umbrella then it won’t be recommended. If your needs and goals call for a tactic under the advertising umbrella then it will be utilized and sculpted consistently with other necessary strategies identified by thorough research.
Although it doesn’t always occur this way, some professionals who only practice one specialty–such as purely social media marketing–will try to sell you social media whether or not you actually need it.
You can always bet that an integrated marketing communications firm will “sell” you only what they feel is necessary based on your needs.
Serious Role and Mindset Shifts–High Accountability and ROI
A traditional viewpoint held by agencies is “low accountability” for their actions and work. Integrated marketing communications, however, transforms this mindset into one of high accountability.
And rather than regular compensation for services, it puts emphasis on performance-based compensation focused on your organization’s return on investment (ROI).
IMC is Here Now–It’s Just Informal
Every firm out there may not be advertising that they stem operations from an “integrated marketing communications perspective,” but that doesn’t mean that they don’t follow the philosophy. A high volume of firms serve clients this way without officially announcing it.
The buzzphrase hasn’t risen to the top of every conversation, but it’s being practiced by an abundance of professionals every day.
The Future Brings Abundance
Since many firms are practicing this already, I predict that more and more of them will rebrand themselves with more integrated marketing communications terminology, especially as the concept continues to become more prevalent.