By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
What is integrated marketing communications? According to Philip Kitchen and Inga Burgmann's Integrated Marketing Communications: Making it Work at a Strategic Level (2015), Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is an expansion of utilizing both modern and traditional marketing strategies, to optimize the communication of a consistent message conveying the company's brand to stakeholders. Like with many things in life, consistency is the key. To optimize message consistency, we must be highly collaborative and bring together people and functions who normally might not communicate with one another.
In other words, Integrated Marketing Communications, as defined by The American Association of Advertising Agencies is a marketing strategy that recognizes the value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines, advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion, and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.
In order to build collaboration to deliver a single, cohesive message throughout the organization, IMC requires the integration of various functions including:
Why is IMC becoming increasingly popular?
IMC is becoming increasingly popular because it is communication that works without waste. What do I mean by this? Integrating marketing and communications is a unique practice because it looks at the promotional mix as a whole instead of separate parts. The promotional mix is a marketing term that stands for product, place, price, and promotion. The advantages of the IMC strategy is that it makes your campaigns more intuitive. Integrating allows for a consistent message across all of your communication and marketing channels.
How can IMC help your small business, start-up, or nonprofit?
Research-driven initiatives that are focused on delivering results against measurable objectives during specific time frames are most effective. This is why IMC will help your small business, start-up, or nonprofit succeed. Research, SMART goals and objectives, clear and consistent messaging, and building long term relationships with your target audience are essential for the success of any organization. Integrating your marketing and communications is a strategic approach to delivering your message consistently and clearly to your target audience.
As communicators, marketers, and business owners, we need to be highly collaborative and bring together people and functions that historically don’t communicate, from marketing to advertising, PR, social/digital media, graphic design, website design/development, event production, and sales. These various groups, departments, or individuals must build collaboration to deliver a single, cohesive message throughout the entire organization.
The History of IMC
Let’s dive a little deeper into IMC. According to Avocet Communications: IMC is “A term coined in 1989, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) began as a need to focus advertising efforts across several different promotional methods. By integrating communications across multiple marketing platforms, businesses discovered that each individual brand message was actually reinforcing the others. The need arose as a result of businesses realizing there were other more efficient and cost-effective ways to reach customers. Focusing advertising efforts in more ways became necessary for the growth of the business, but some quickly realized that consistency and integration between those efforts was just as important.”
Many big name brands and organizations have developed IMC campaigns throughout the years. Think about your favorite brand and how they share a consistent message on their websites, on social media, on their ads, through their marketing like email marketing, on TV ads, and even through influencer marketing. There are many successful IMC campaigns that you can start to recognize once you learn more. And, of course, you can do this too, it just takes planning, research, execution, and evaluation.
Case Studies: Successful IMC Campaigns
An example of a successful IMC campaign is the Old Spice: Smell Like a Man campaign. This campaign integrated great videos, social media, ads, and everything in between with great copywriting that held your attention and sold you the product. This campaign was research-driven in that it was developed based on one key insight, that 60% of body wash purchases are made by women. So, they developed a campaign in which women were the target market by having a shirtless, good looking man, riding a horse on a beach at sunset. Although it is a product for men, the campaign targeted women as research showed that over 60% of body wash purchases were made by women. The imagery, content, videos and everything focused on the key message of smelling like a man and what that looked like through the screen. The imagery helps us associate a scent with the brand even if we don’t know what that scent is, through the power of the mind we can picture what that smell is based on what the ads are portraying.
Another example is the Always: #LikeAGirl campaign which promoted a cause rather than a product. This campaign wasn’t designed to sell you a product, which is evident through the consistent messaging across platforms with videos that worked and a hashtag to tie everything together. The videos didn't focus on “selling a product." Instead, through the #LikeAGirl hashtag, the campaign sparked a debate centering around gender equality on social media. The consistent message that was clear and evident throughout the various platforms from images, to digital, to videos and commercials even during the Super Bowl was that girls are strong, smart, and powerful. We as women, know that we are capable of anything and everything and we will succeed, and this message came out through this campaign.
A third example is the Levi Strauss: Ready to Work campaign which focused on documentaries about rebuilding efforts in a rundown steel town across multiple media sources which made the campaign an integrated marketing gem. It was real and raw which struck a chord within consumers but most importantly it delivered a clear and consistent message across platforms from video ads, to social media, digital ads, and more.
These case studies are great examples that clearly show you how IMC campaigns can be highly successful and intuitive. They demonstrate exactly why IMC is the new gold standard of marketing communications. Like I mentioned earlier, the key to IMC is consistency because consistency will help you optimize the message you are trying to convey.
Learn More about IMC
I created an online course focusing on IMC for small business, start-ups, nonprofits, creators, and any individual or organization that wants to learn more about marketing communications. In my IMC online course, you can learn the process of planning your own IMC strategy for your business and products. The learning objectives of my course are:
Let's work together to learn and create a plan for your brand or organization. Click here to register for the course.
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
Over the years, the main public relations tool that we all hear about is the press release. In the world of professional communications and public relations, the press release is the "it" tool for reaching target audiences through media outlets such as magazines, local and national newspapers, television, radio, podcasts, etc. We use the press release along with the media advisory and media exclusives to reach our target audiences and raise awareness for our clients. But, the press release is not the only tool in the toolbox for PR professionals. In this article, we will go over three tools that PR professionals can use while establishing the brand journalism of their organizations.
The News Release
The news release is very similar to the press release, the difference is who it is intended for. While the press release is intended for media outlets in an effort to earn media attention, the news release is intended directly for your target audience. This release can be published directly to your organizations website under one of the following tabs: newsroom, news releases, press releases. The news release as multiple functions. Although the main function is to inform your target audience without the need to use the media as a middle man, it can also be used by the media. When journalists visit your website, they will look under your press tab where they can find your news release ready for them to use to write about your organization. This is a great way to begin your brand journalism journey and solidify the brand of your organization.
Brand Journalism: Organizational Blogs
What is brand journalism? I've mentioned brand journalism a few times already, but I have not explained what it is. Brand journalism, in essence, is using your organization's owned media to share content in a journalistic manner. This is a way of sharing stories and information about your organization in a journalistic manner that can be easily consumed by your target audience but also used by journalists to write about your organization. By sticking to writing in a journalistic manner, you are making the job of the journalists easier when they visit your website to research. This can also make it more enticing for them to write about you since you have done a lot of their job already by sticking to journalism rules when writing your posts/blogs. But how does blogging fit in? Well, blogging is a great way to reach your audience with owned content. By writing a blog on your website, you are sharing content that you own and have control over. Blogging is a great way to share what's going on in your business, new products coming out, new research that you have done, ways that you are improving your community, etc. When setting up a brand blog, always make sure that you have specific rules for your employees to follow including blogging ethics.
Repurposing content is one of the smartest strategies for any business. Now that you have news releases and blog posts on your website, you can re-use the content that you already published on your website to share on social media. This is not only a smart way to be active on social media, but it is a great way to reach your audience faster and guide them back to your website for more information. Additionally, you can use social media, particularly Twitter, to reach journalists directly. You can build relationships with them while sharing your content and guiding them back to your website.
These are the three PR tools that PR professionals can use to establish the brand journalism of their organizations while directly reaching their target audiences. If you have more questions or would like to read more about brand journalism, comment below or email us at email@example.com
By: Christopher Haymon
Starting a business out of your residential rental property could be a very smart and successful venture. There have been countless freelancers and companies that got their start in bedrooms, living rooms, or garages. However, you have to make sure you do it legally. Otherwise, all of your hard work can quickly go to waste.
If you’re thinking about launching a company from your apartment or rental house, consider these tips.
Look at your lease.
No matter what kind of apartment you live in, you most likely have a lease that outlines dos and don’ts that you must abide by if you want to continue living there. Oftentimes, these leases include a general set of guidelines pertaining to the building referred to as “rules and regulations.” Just because your lease is silent doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Consider whether or not your business could potentially become a disturbance to your neighbors; if so, it could violate certain aspects of your lease.
Moreover, condominium CCRs—which stands for covenants, codes, and restrictions—tend to be stricter on home businesses. So, if you live in a condo, you’ll need to speak with the building owner or landlord to discuss your idea.
Along with looking into your lease, you’ll need to check the coding/ordinances in your area. research the zoning laws, business licensing requirements, and home businesses ordinances for your municipality. If you think that your business could violate any codes and that you might need to request a variance, you will need to reach out to the local government.
Form an entity.
As with any type of business, you’ll need to form an entity for your home business. By establishing an LLC, you may be eligible for certain tax benefits, liability protection, and flexibility in managing the entity. Depending on where you live, this can be a complex and time-consuming process. Some entrepreneurs hire a lawyer to form an entity, but you may be able to save some money by using an online formation service. Each state has its own set of regulations for setting up an LLC. So, before moving forward, make sure you have a basic understanding of what your state requires.
Set up your workspace.
This is the fun part—getting your office set up! Much can be said about what it takes to establish a comfortable and productive workspace when you’re running a business out of your apartment. But suffice it to say that your office should be attractive, minimize distractions, ergonomic, and comfortable both for you and any visitors you may have. Your workspace should also reflect some of your personality, be equipped with any tools and equipment you need to fulfill your daily duties, and include any other elements that will help you stay productive.
Establish your schedule.
Lastly, working from home comes with tons of advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. One of the more significant challenges you are likely to face is staying on task, which is considerably harder outside of a traditional office environment.
Figure out your most productive hours of the day, as well as your personal activities, and craft a schedule that allows you to succeed at all of it. This might take time, so don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re constantly up a river without a paddle at first. The key is to find your rhythm and structure your workday in a way that helps you to minimize distractions and stay productive day in and day out.
If you’re considering starting a home business from your apartment or other rented property, it could be the best decision you ever make for your career. But in order to make the most of your opportunity, you must approach it carefully and make smart decisions along the way. Follow the tips above, keep researching what it takes to be a successful home business entrepreneur, and maintain an open mind to any strategies that you can pick up on your journey that will help your company flourish in the long term.
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
The Old is the New Marketing
Last year, one of the marketing trends that saw a rise in the virtual world compared to previous years was podcasting. Marketing and advertising teams were spending more money on podcast advertisements which led to the trend being classified as “the old is the new marketing.” Podcasting, in essence, is the same thing as radio. So, now marketers are spending money on getting featured in podcasts which are the new spin to a traditional media outlet.
A few years ago, the trend was influencer marketing where companies were spending millions in collaborations and partnerships with influencers from social media and YouTube. Now, people are also spending more time on more traditional media outlets that have been modernized for a virtual world. Like we discussed previously, radio has been adapted to the virtual world through podcasting while TV has evolved into streaming services. Advertisers and marketing teams spend a lot of time in buying advertising spots on radio, podcasting, TV, and streaming services. So, the new is not necessarily completely different from the old.
The traditional media outlets have evolved to fit into the new norm of society. Everything is virtual. We can conduct interviews from anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection, and promote products all over the world by having access to various communication platforms. The one media outlet that was never traditional, and continues to see a rise in user growth and engagement is social media.
Social Media for Branding and Marketing
While social media is considered to be a part of the new style of marketing and has its own set of programs to learn compared to traditional marketing, it is still marketing. At the core, marketing is about promoting and selling. On social media, brands can promote their products to a larger audience with a lower budget. This is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses while larger businesses with bigger budgets tend to make the most of social media marketing. These businesses tend to employ a mix of social media and influencer marketing to get their products out to millions of people.
Marketing is not only about promoting and selling, it does not always lead to the outcomes you expect. Before you begin marketing, you need to do your research and you need to build a strong reputation. Strong brands do not come about in days or weeks, it can take years if not decades to develop a strong and strategic brand that lasts. This is why branding is so important with social media. In this almost fully virtual or remote world, your social media presence is just as important as your presence in person. And, this does not only apply to people, it applies to businesses and brands.
To ensure that you develop a strategic brand online, it is important for you to distinguish yourself from the competition. You must research your competition to really figure out what makes you different and what will be that final factor that will convert potential customers into paying customers.
The New Face of Strategic Marketing and Branding
The new face of strategic marketing and branding is not really new, but rather evolved. Strategic marketing and branding are still about the same thing that they used to be decades ago, but have now evolved to more avenues and outlets. Things now change in a matter of seconds, so it is important for brands to be flexible and adaptable to changing times. But this is why it is also important for businesses to develop a strong and strategic brand that withstands the test of time. They must focus on building a trusting, honest, and relatable brand online with their target audiences.
By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
How often should you post on social media? This is a question that will always vary. Some people say to post multiple times per day on every platform while others will say once a week is fine. The truth is that it depends on both the platform you are using and your audience. Below is an infographic of recommended posting frequency for different social media platforms.
You should always research your audience before deciding on a posting schedule Depending on the industry, your audience, and the platform, you will need to adjust your frequency. The most important thing you should remember is that the formula that works well for one brand or person, is not going to work exactly the same for someone else. It will always depend on your industry, audience, and the platform. If you have more questions, comment below and I will help you.
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