Every once in a while a client or a business associate asks what I think integrated marketing communications really is. In a way, it’s sorta like one of those extra large egg cartons that I see at the Farmer’s Market. 18 fresh eggs, each one separate but integrated in the carton. Each egg can be used in a different way – fried, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, etc. – but ultimately become part of a way to satisfy hunger. The b-to-b integrated communications process has numerous steps that are each distinct and different, but ultimately all must work together to deliver true integrated communications. And satisfy the hunger of the b-to-b buyer or decision maker.
So what is true integrated communications?
We see it as a strategic process that permeates the entire organization, rather than just a campaign from the marketing or advertising department. Every point of contact with customers, prospects and other stakeholders must be identified, analyzed and integrated through communications to build profitable relationships. It drives sales, brand value and repeat purchases, and builds and enhances long-term customer relationships and lifetime customer value.
A definition of b-to-b integrated communications
If you’re interested in truly integrating your b-to-b communications inside and outside your company, the following definition of what that entails can provide guidance on your road to integrated “eggs-cellence.”
Integrated business marketing communications is defined as a process by which you
- target different audience segments
- communicating to them through each stage of their purchase process
- delivering messages they consider important and valuable in terms of their functional and emotional buying criteria and to which they are most susceptible at that stage of the purchase process
- delivering these messages to the audience through different media
- selected as most appropriate for the message
- and to which the audience is most receptive because of time, place or purchase path stage and personal preference
- packing the messages with information, incentives and offers designed to initiate and maintain a dialogue that moves them to the next stage of purchase or repurchase
- tying everything together through a unified creative buying concept anchored in your brand’s promise
- presented in a highly recognizable, unique and consistent look, voice, point of view and brand personality
- that is also communicated throughout your organization based on understanding the customer’s point of view
- and measured in perceptual, behavioral and financial terms.
Whew — there you go – a functional definition of IMC in one sentence. Ok, a complex, ungrammatical, lengthy, run-on sentence. But at least it says something.
One last warning – toss out the bad egg
Not every tactic is appropriate for your integrated communications mix. Just because it’s the tactic du jour, doesn’t mean that particular communications tool is right for your company. Use what makes sense and reject those that don’t just like you’d toss out the rotten egg.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/certified_su