Integrated Marketing Communication: Definition and Creation

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you’re responsible for connecting with a company’s audience through promotional campaigns, it may be helpful to learn the basics of integrated marketing communication (IMC). Implementing IMC can help you build long-term relationships with an audience, which can boost the brand’s success and increase sales. Understanding how to communicate using IMC can also support you as you develop a marketing strategy.

In this article, we explain what integrated marketing communication is, describe its benefits and discuss how to create an integrated marketing communication strategy.

What is integrated marketing communication?

Integrated marketing communication is a planning process to assure that all brand contacts for a specific product, service or organization apply to the customer over a long period. It focuses on cohesive branding by aligning marketing activities across various media to ensure a constant flow of information to connect a consumer to the brand. Integrated marketing is an interconnected approach to marketing to create a central message for a brand.

Related: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How To Use It

Integrated marketing communication versus general communication

While integrated marketing is a process, general marketing is the action of promoting or selling goods or services. Marketing is the joining of theory and application that professionals can apply across various media equally. Integrated marketing as a process involves a specific brand and is often in flux through constant evaluations to ensure success.

The ability to leverage the ever-changing forms of social media to reach customers is central to integrated marketing, as all mediums of communication work in unison to relay a specific message to the target audience. Aligning media is integrated marketing, and the action of promoting a product is marketing communication.

Related: 8 Marketing Interview Questions To Expect

How to create an integrated marketing communication strategy

The application of an integrated marketing strategy can help you build brand loyalty across a specific customer base to maximize your profits. It may attract new customers to your brand, and your brand can gain a reputation for its consistent message and reliability. Integrated marketing communication aims at the long-term benefits of creating a solid brand identity consistent with the goals of the brand. These steps can help you begin an integrated marketing communication strategy:

1. Identify and understand your target audience

Primary to all marketing strategies, including integrated marketing, is the focus on your target audience and goal. Discover what audience you want to reach, what needs they have in common and what drives them to products and services.

Conducting consumer research to identify consumer rationale can be your initial focus. Consider limiting your focus to a select group within a centered range to maximize your efforts. Through strategic selection and a data-driven decision-making approach, you can gain a strong insight into the buying habits and needs of your customer base.

Related: Learn About Being a Marketing Specialist

2. Define your unique selling point 

Next, consider an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which is a  SWOT analysis. Interview or survey any customer base you currently have and gain insight into customer motivation. Understanding the challenges in advance can help you overcome them as you progress through your campaign, and you can harness your strengths to boost success.

Related: How To Perform SWOT Analysis in Marketing in 6 Steps

3. Understand your competition

Measure your brand's defining characteristics against that of your competition. Identify what aspects of your brand are challenging to replicate and focus on those characteristics to give yourself an advantage. The harder your brand qualities are to duplicate, the stronger advantage you may have.

Related: How To Write a Competitive Analysis For Your Brand (With Tips)

4. Determine your channels

Delineate the mix of media you plan to use to reach existing and potential customers. Consider the range of target customers you have and their qualities. Local cable television commercials may not be appropriate for a younger generation but can reach an older generation, for example. Select the marketing media that is most cost-effective to reach the best results. It may be any combination of modes, such as social media, radio advertising, television spots, print media, billboards and live events.

5. Implement your plan

Creatively mold your branding identity around your brand's defining characteristics and target customer needs and characteristics. Your brand identity can be the focal point of your integrated marketing strategy and present in each communication that you send to customers. Keep your original message consistent across different platforms, even if the mode of communication differs. 

6. Evaluate and adjust 

Use quantifiable data to measure the success of your integrated marketing strategy. Analyze the success across all communication platforms you used through vanity metrics, website visits, acquired leads, customer survey responses and sales statistics. Active monitoring can help inform your future decisions and continued strategy.

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

Benefits of integrated marketing communication

Before investing valuable time, effort and resources into a marketing strategy, it’s essential to review the benefits, which include:

Building relationships

IMC is customer-centered and lends authenticity and validity to the buying experience. The plan validates the customer’s feelings, and it creates a reputation in the consumer's mind, resulting in better brand positioning.

Being effective and cost-effective

IMC is an effective strategy that reduces cost by creating and implementing multi-use materials for a campaign. The ensured consistency embedded in this method organically creates trust for your brand and improves brand recognition.

Being ubiquitous

By being ever-present, IMC creates a familiarity with consumers.  As exposure to a brand becomes more consistent, the likelihood a consumer chooses it increases exponentially.

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