What is Integrated Marketing Communications & why it’s important for your Business?
Integrated Marketing is about crafting what you say about your BRAND – company/Business (including your products and services) how you say it through your communications channels, where to say it, and who you say it to. As taking care of your marketing communications, it is important that you know how your customers feel about your brand to best meet their needs.
We cannot talk about integrated marketing if we do not mention “Branding” – because without proper branding your integrated marketing will go to waste. In this article, I have broken down each element of integrated marketing communications and the why it is important for your business and have referenced a Emirates Airlines to give you ideas on how you could model this for your business (being a small or medium-sized business there is always room to enhance your integrated marketing for enhanced business growth.)
1st component of integrated marketing:
Branding is the backbone of integrated marketing & integrated marketing communications. While most business owners think of their logo as their branding, it is way much more than that. Wikipedia identifies branding as:
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising for recognition and, importantly, to create and store value as brand equity for the object identified, to the benefit of the brand’s customers, its owners and shareholders. Name brands are sometimes distinguished from generic or store brands.”
I’d like to take it deeper to really dissect what branding is about and cut the confusion for the business owner that is trying to declutter through hundreds of what marketing companies call Branding.
Branding is about standing out from the crowd from hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of companies that are doing the same thing as you do. There are measurable components to branding that most business owners do not know about and I break it down here:
Segmentation is the process of dividing (segmenting) the market into smaller groups that share similar traits. These traits could be behavioral, similar attitudes, age, geographical location, or product-oriented. This makes it easier for marketers to communicate with these segments and it is a more efficient way of reaching customers. For example, Emirates segments its customers to business travelers, holiday travelers, child flyers, first-class travelers, and event travelers like people who travel to attend special events like Formula 1 and other musical concerts.
Now, looking at the similar traits each segment (unit) has we will see that all business travelers travel for the sake of business to attend meetings and other functions. They all need to be alert, comfortable, fast because business people do not like waiting! Time is money! Business travelers usually do not care about airfares as mostly their work pays their fares and accommodation. Could you think of what holiday travelers have in common? (relaxed, want to have a good time, want nice packages, could be singles, couples or families)
Targeting is sifting through your marketing segments and deciding which target markets you will pursue, communicate with and make them into your ideal markets. Like the case of Emirates Airlines — in addition to the market segments they have broken down business travelers, holiday travelers, child flyers, first-class travelers, and event travelers, they could add in another segment which is “cheap travelers” who are always looking for the price factor to book their travel. This clearly is not a segment that Emirates Airlines is targeting at the moment, but rather airlines like Tiger and JetStar do really well at targeting these segments.
So basically, as a business owner, you can need to see what segmentations you have in the market and the “targeting” process allows you to really hone done on your niche market and decide which segment you’d like to target. Realistically, you will not target every segment on the face of the earth. But you could start with one or two segments as a small business and start to grow your target market from there.
Choosing which markets or segments to target brings you back to your core competencies, your SWOT analysis rather than following shining markets. You really need to drill down and understand your internal strengths, competitors, current market trends and other marketing factors to make a good decision when deciding which markets to target.
Positioning means what sort of image would you like your audience, target markets, or customers to have in their minds of your products/services. Emirates wanted to position itself recently and wanted to position itself as a global airline back in 2010, therefore it purchased many carriers and increased its destinations to fulfill this global positioning.
What do you think about when you hear the words ‘Emirates Airlines’? (global, luxury, comfort, good food, great entertainment). Now, compare that with words you’d come up with when thinking about airlines like Tiger or Jetstar? (affordable, cheap, low quality, uncomfortable seats, delayed flights?)
Emirates also wants to position itself as a luxurious airline, so it purchased the most luxurious carrier A380 with its own spa, showers, flatbeds, lounges and much more. Positioning is very important and for Emirates to stay a luxurious airline it has to be consistent by providing what customers think is luxurious.
4. Logo – your physical brand image
A logo is a symbol, brand name, or/and image that represents your company. There are different elements that help you choose the right logo for you but only really breaking down your STP (segmentation, targeting, & positioning) are you able to create a great logo for your business. A logo should be well researched with your brand manager/logo designer to really represent what your company is about and put your business, products, and services in the right position that makes you stand out of competition and highlight your uniqueness.
2nd component of integrated marketing:
Brand Communications – (How you communicate your BRAND)
Brand communication is your message that you deliver to your audience and customers through a number of communication channels. It is everything from your copy, content, imagery, taglines, to digital and print ads. Brand communications need to be clear and consistent and always refer back to your STP ((segmentation, targeting, & positioning) to stay on track.
3rd component of integrated marketing:
Advertising & Promotion – (Where to communicate to your ideal clients about your BRAND)
Advertising is where all the communication action starts! It is a very important part of an Integrated marketing strategy as it is the key to let my audience know about my brand “Emirates Airlines”. Advertising allows Emirates to have a spontaneous bond with its customers.
Advertising is an important element of integrated marketing communications. It is a direct way to communicate with customers and many effects can be used in advertising to motivate customers to purchase products or services. I have explained that consistency is an important factor to advertising and that advertising should be customized to interest customers and reduce costs.
To communicate the global image of Emirates, they launched the “Hello Tomorrow” campaign in 2012. A “Hello Tomorrow” strapline is printed in all ads positioning the airline as the “enabler of global connectivity and meaningful experiences”. They wanted to position Emirates from a travel brand to a “global lifestyle brand”, therefore all our advertisements have to represent their global brand.
Again consistency is the key, so printed ads have to match Facebook ads and other online ads, as well as audio and video ads. Basically all Emirates ads have to represent the “Hello Tomorrow” campaign and show that we are a global airline. This way our customers get exactly what we are and what we stand for. Advertising is not an easy task, just because Emirates wanted its brand to be global doesn’t mean that all their ads have to be the same!
Emirates targets specific customers with specific ads. For example, it appeals to first-class travelers with its ‘Journey’ video commercial that highlights how Emirates has taken luxury travel to innovative heights with First Class private suites. While the ‘Gastronomia’ commercial targets customers who are food fanatics. Emirates also has customized ads for every destination from Dubai all the way to Auckland. Emirates also appeals to different customers with a variety of languages. Customizing ads allows Emirates to interest 7 each group or segment of customers to arouse interest and lower advertising costs.
4th component of integrated marketing:
Advertising & Promotion Outlets/Channels
These are the channels businesses use to advertise and promote their products and services. A list of these channels are:
- SEO Search Engine Optimisation
- Google Ads
- Social Media Channels: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Tiktok and more. (used organically or through paid ads)
- Traditional channels like TV and Radio
- Celebrity Endorsements
- Influencer Endorsements AKA Influencer Marketing
- Print Media – In newspapers, bus stations, on buses and other mobiles, billboards (could be print or digital in this case), elevators, back of public toilet doors, on buildings
- Own Media
- Public Relations (PR)
Emirates uses a number of media sources for its advertisements and communicating with its customers. Emirates uses traditional media e.g. T.V. ads. Also, a great contemporary way of communicating with customers is through our favorite social media places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Through social media like Facebook, Emirates can communicate directly with customers, and what is even better is that customers can communicate instantly with Emirates.
Social media revolutionized communication by building a two-way bridge between companies and their customers. Currently, Emirates has over 1.5 million people on its Facebook page. Emirates also has what is called “Owned Media”, which is all our trucks, buses, and cars that have our logo on. An example of Emirates’ own media is their “Emirates Airline Cable Car” in London which is one of our customers’ favorite, the cable car was constructed for the Olympics Games.
5th component of integrated marketing:
Consumer Behaviour & Attitudes
Consumer behaviour and attitudes are an integral part of integrated marketing because it gives you the direction of how to communicate with your audience and consumers. Marketers need to examine their target market behavior and attitudes. Attitudes relate to feelings about brand image, brand beliefs, emotions, the reasons behind the brand choice, thus affecting their behaviors There is a tri-component model of attitudes which consists of:
- Affective component
- Cognitive component
- Conative component
The affective component of an attitude signifies feelings and evaluations. The cognitive component signifies the customer’s beliefs about products e.g., Emirates Airlines has luxurious carriers. The conative component refers to a customer’s ‘behavioral tendency’ to take action and its intention to purchase a certain product or service. Therefore, attitudes influence the purchasing behavior of customers.
As a result marketers need to influence attitudes to influence purchase behaviors. The comprehension of consumers’ attitudes aid marketers to design effective communications strategies to lure consumers and persuade them to purchase products and make repeated purchases.
There are many forms of persuasion like;
- Message argument – Message Argument. One ad Emirates ran compares Emirates to other airlines, as it flies over 90 times a week to the UK.
- Peripheral cues – like graphics, music and scenery used in ads and websites.
- Receiver involvement – Receiver’s Initial Position suggests that persuasion does not only happen from ads, and other communication tools but also from the customer’s thoughts when they first see an ad.
Customer’s behaviors and attitudes influence a brand image and sales. So what are attitudes? They are learned traits from family, friends and everyone that surrounds you. Attitudes may last a long-term and they influence behavior. Influencing customers’ attitudes is one of the main interests to help increase Emirates sales. Emirates also has an interest in customers’ purchasing behaviors, like why they choose Emirates to fly?
Moving on to the last and 6th component of integrated marketing:
Your Customer’s Motivation
Understanding what motivates your customers and audiences to buy, pick a product over another, make a quick purchase, or throw thousands of dollars on some brands is essential to crafting your integrated marketing efforts.
Three things you should consider learning about your customer’s motivation are:
- Customer Journey CJ – where does the journey start? From a pain point? Or a desire to own something? Where does this customer go to meet their needs?
- User Experience UX – What sort of UX are you offering the user of your website, social media outlets and other channels, it is an easy journey? Is it consistent? Is your customer understanding what you offer?
- Customer Experience CX – This is the experience of your actual customer, from the moment they make the purchase to using your product and service and reviewing your product and after-sales support.
Final words …
Integrated Marketing communication or IMC has a number of components which are branding, STP which stands for (segmentation, targeting and positioning), advertising and other promotions such as sales promotions, sponsorships, point of purchase communications and finally PR or public relations. All of these components are integrated together to provide consistent communication methods to communicate with our customers. Doing proper marketing analysis, marketing planning and a measurable action plan is the key to success in delivering integrated marketing communications.
Do you feel overwhelmed with your marketing and would like to have expert help from a Business & a Marketing Strategist that helps you grow your business consistently and efficiently? Book with us for a FREE 20 mins chat about your business vision and goals to go over your growth opportunities and how you could take advantage of them to grow your business financially and build a successful brand.