How Integrated are Your Marketing Strategies? Tips and Tricks to Achieving the Best Possible IMC Plan

The world we have come to know today has changed drastically in terms of digital and communication options in media. Marketers have more opportunities than ever to drive sales and build an image for their brand or company. However, marketers are struggling with how to make the right marketing communication decisions. Integrated marketing communication, or “IMC”, can be defined as achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, by a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other. The article that I read titled: “Unlocking the Power of Integrated Marketing Communications: How Integrated is Your IMC Program” highlights tips and tricks that marketers can utilize to gauge how effective and efficient their IMC choices are. 

With some context from the article readers can gain a little bit more knowledge about the “new communications environment.” Author, Kevin Lane Keller states that consumers nowadays can choose to become as engaged as they want with a brand, and the range of influence they can have is virtually immeasurable. Likewise, firms and organizations can choose to become as involved as they’d like with consumers, from hosting their own brand website for consumers to visit on their own, to actively engaging with consumers in product development. When discussing consumer and firm engagement, one mistake commonly made is failing to recognize that empowered does not necessarily mean engaged. In other words, just because the option is there to become engaged, that does not mean consumers or firms have the motivation and will to do so.

A trick that the Keller emphasized to show engagement and interaction is “the brand engagement pyramid.” At the top of the pyramid, you have the customers that want to be highly engaged with the brand. They are the consumers that talk about the brand, mention it on social media platforms, avidly visit the website, read emails from them, and so forth. On the bottom of the pyramid, you will find customers who only want to purchase and consume the brand, or “choose it and use it” if you will. A key to understanding how the pyramid will work on the simplest level is to understand the shape and dynamic of it. Ask yourself: how many are at the top or base? What is the general flow of influence across the different levels? Does any of that trickle down? After answering some of these questions you will have a much stronger understanding of the role of paid, owned, and earned media in the development of your IMC program. 

The last piece of IMC development that I want to drive home is perhaps the most important and crucial finding in the article that I read: the seven C’s of IMC. These are the seven core principles to think about and consider when developing your IMC program.

  1. Coverage- This captures the proportion of the target market that is being reached by each communication option, it also indicates how much overlap exists among the communication options used. With coverage, you see a lot of overlapping within the seven C’s alone. If there is little overlap with your methods, effectiveness can be driven by contribution and complementarity efforts. If there is a greater overlap, the relationship of what is overlapping becomes essential regarding commonality, complementarity, and cross-effects, as well as sequencing correctly.
  2. Cost- As I mentioned when talking about the engagement pyramid, analyzing is essential with cost. This is especially true when looking at the response functions and rates from different communication options. This could lead to new decisions for implementing communication options.
  3. Contribution- Contribution can create the desired response and effectiveness from consumers and achieve the anticipated communication objectives. It consists of the “main effects” of an option in terms of how it is affecting consumers and how they process a communication, followed by their reactions/decisions. Something important to reflect on here is what is the actual content of the option you are using, and what is the context in which it is seen, heard, or experienced. These are both crucial aspects of contribution. 
  4. Commonality- It is inevitable that some communication options are going to share the same content or provide similar effects to consumers. If your information is consistent in meaning, it will be learned and adopted easier, thus recalled more often than unrelated or inconsistent information. However, the unexpectedness of inconsistent information can sometimes lead to more intense processing and stronger associations than consistent information. 
  5. Complementarity- To reach the full potential of communicating effectively, it is usually necessary for communication programs to convey multiple messages and to create multiple effects. Depending on where customers are within their consumer journey may depend on the types of messages and effects they may need. There is only so much that can be said or communicated with any one option. A tip here is “less is often more,” especially when it comes to the world of mass media. 
  6. Cross-effects- The goal with this “C” is to create synergistic cross-effects through strategic and proper coordination and sequencing efforts. If you are tactical with this, you can boost communication effects with consumers from the exposure from one option, and in addition can also create enhanced effects for a different option following exposure.  
  7. Conformability- Perfect targeting will not always be achieved, and additionally overlap will tend to exist in the exposure to different communication options. Consumers will undoubtedly come across messages in a variety of orders or sequences, or maybe not at all. Your target consumers may not even be exposed to the efforts you set out to portray. Therefore, the messages will be new to some consumers but not new to others. Conformability is referring to the versatility and extent to which an options effort is received and how they are exposed to customers. A question to ask yourself is, how well does the communication conform to the different characteristics and communication needs of different target markets? 

Now that we’ve discussed some keys to IMC success, it is up to marketers to take note of these keys and employ them strategically.  By doing so, it is likely that your IMC program will be comprehensive, cohesive, and impactful. The article concludes with an overarching description of steps to follow; evaluate your communication options and programs and establish some priorities and trade-offs among the IMC choice criteria. As we know, the digital world is now our oyster, and more open to us than ever before. Capabilities that we have now both as consumers and marketers for firms are much broader than in the past. The new goal is to unleash the potential and power of all the new communication options available to us.

Keller, Kevin, L. (July 1, 2016). Unlocking the Power of Integrated Marketing Communications: 

How Integrated Is Your IMC Program? Retrieved from


This blog post was written by Peyton Hersey, who is a senior graduating in December with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business. Peyton plans on entering the field of event management or public relations, and she is thrilled for what is in store come December!