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How to Create an Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Strategy for your Small Business

Learn how to integrate all of your company's marketing channels and seamlessly present a unified message to customers.


Latest Update – December 29, 2014

Do you know all of the fundamental elements to building a stable and successful business?

Sure. You’ve read up on industry-related small business books and entrepreneurship articles. You may have even opened your company up to the online world to expand your reach. It’s also possible that you have consulted talented web development and design companies to improve your online user experience.

But the problem is this: Even though you have done “all of these things” still your business is only breaking even, or worse, running at a loss. This painful fact keeps you up at night wondering: “Where did I go wrong?”

One area that you could unintentionally overlook in your business is this: you aren’t communicating your brand message consistently throughout all of your marketing channels. This is where integrated marketing communication comes into play.

But before we get into the details of what integrated marketing communication actually is (and why it is beneficial for your business), let’s take a quick look at two factors that drive it—offline and online marketing.

 

Offline Marketing

Offline marketing is every marketing strategy and tactic fulfilled outside of the scope of the Internet. It represents the traditional way of building awareness for your business. Offline marketing strategies can include placing advertisements in print and broadcast media.

“If you place ads in print magazines or newspapers, have a commercial on TV, pass out brochures or pamphlets, exhibit at conferences, have a billboard on the side of the road, or utilize vehicle wraps,” this is considered offline marketing.

Though there is a strong push for creating an online experience in today’s digital age, offline marketing still has a staggering effect on customers considering the established platforms and given the fact that there are still a good number of people who don’t have Internet access.

 

Online Marketing

In comparison online marketing is done within the realm of the Internet. Examples can include company blogs, email marketing, QR codes, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, and standard display advertising (e.g. banners and other derivatives thereof).

Considering the steadily growing number of Internet users and the success achieved by e-commerce businesses, online marketing has become crucial for small business success.

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

As the name suggests, integrated marketing communication (IMC) is the integration of all of your company’s marketing channels. The main goal is to seamlessly present a unified message to customers using advertising, public relations, promotion, branding, direct marketing, and other  tools by listening and communicating. Using IMC principles will help you target and deliver a message to customers that is both clear and compelling.

As a result, you can achieve maximum cost effectiveness and improve sales — all the while building your brand.

 

How to Develop an IMC Strategy

Now that you know how IMC can benefit your small business, here are four tips to help you pull it off successfully:

 

1. Develop IMC Goals

The first step is to communicate to your team and employees what your IMC goals actually are — from the marketing team to the web development team and sales force. Your entire company must be made aware of what your business is ultimately gunning for, and each person has to understand what exactly he or she has to do to hellp accomplish these goals.

It pays to come up with systems that track the performance of your company, starting from the individual employees to the different departments and up to the overall business to see how well you are meeting those goals you have set.

 

2. Know Your Customer

How well do you know your customer — your target audience? Who benefits the most from your products and services? What are their interests? Where would you be able to market to them more efficiently and effectively? These are questions that, once answered, can direct you towards constructing a unique yet consistent image that will appeal to them.

 

3. Check for Consistency

Express your goals in a message that is consistent across all marketing efforts. Doing so avoids any confusion people might feel when they see an ad in a newspaper and view a completely different ad online.

It also keeps a single strong image of your brand in their heads that they can quickly recall. From there, they will always have a good idea of what your company is about and how you do business.

 

4. Audit Your Marketing

Conduct marketing audits regularly. After executing your marketing efforts it is important to constantly review, and if necessary, revise your strategy. Checking just how well particular methods are working based on the goals you’ve set in the beginning leads to critical business insight that you will need for future success.

 

Marketing is not magic. You shouldn’t expect immediate turnaround in your business. You need to have the patience to first disseminate the information about your goals to your organization, then set into motion the plan of delivering that consistent message to your target audience through all your marketing channels. It can take a while before people start acknowledging your efforts, but being constant will guarantee they form a concrete idea and perception of what your business is all about.

 

Carrina Candice is a writer and content manager for PrintRunner, an online company that provides quality printing for less. She is an avid fan of design and business articles. Connect with PrintRunner on Twitter.

 

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