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Integrated Marketing Communications: The Standard IMC Planning Process

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integrated marketing communications

Integrated Marketing Communications is a concept that is not too strange for marketers as well as Vietnamese businesses in recent years. An effective marketing communication plan is to ensure that the message is transmitted smoothly and uniformly to the target customers by harmoniously coordinating many different communication channels. However, not every marketer can fully understand a process standard for planning integrated marketing communications. Let's learn about the concept and process of making an integrated marketing communication plan with DPS in the following article!

1. What is Integrated Marketing Communication?

marketing communication tools
Businesses understand the importance of IMC in reaching the maximum target customers

Integrated Marketing Communication – integrated marketing communications – which people in the profession often call briefly IMC. Surely, every business understands the importance and role of marketing communication tools in reaching the maximum target customers. That's why if you only use a separate marketing tool for a marketing campaign; It is very difficult to bring about the desired effect of the enterprise. And that is also the reason tintegrated marketing communication was "born".

Definition of IMC

IMCIintegrated USAarketing OLDommunication niceintegrated marketing communication Marketing activities are coordinated and closely linked to convey a clear, consistent, transparent and persuasive message to target customers about a business or its products. that career (Armstrong & Kotler 2005).

This is a combination of selective marketing communication tools; combined with human and financial resources in an enterprise to influence target customers with the most reasonable cost.

Key tools in integrated marketing communications

5 tools of integrated marketing communication

In IMC there are 5 tools including:

  • Advertising (Advertising)
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Promotion (Promotion)
  • Direct Marketing (Direct Marketing)
  • Personal Selling

Each tool in integrated marketing will have different advantages and disadvantages. However, if you know how to combine harmoniously with the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) in the Marketing Mix; it will be able to help businesses take advantage of the strengths and limit the weaknesses of integrated marketing tools. From there, businesses can achieve their set goals.

2. Integrated marketing communication planning process

IMC planning process
There are 6 steps in the integrated marketing communications planning process

IMC gradually shows its importance in every communication plan. Indeed, it has become a core factor for the success of marketing campaigns in large, medium and small businesses.

However, in today's fiercely competitive market. What does your company need to communicate? And how can integration be most effective for businesses?

Here is a standard 6-step process for creating an integrated marketing plan for marketers that you can refer to.

Step 1: Define SMART goals

Accurately defining communication goals will be a solid foundation for the success of any company's marketing strategies. That means you need to have a clear goal in mind before doing anything. Of course, make a plan integrated marketing communications is not an exception. This will save your business from wasting time and money.

SMART model

If you are feeling confused and confused in determining the goals for the integrated marketing plan; then the SMART model will be a great suggestion for you. So what does SMART include?

Specific – specific

USAeasurable – can be measured

Achievable – attainable

CHEAPealistic – realistic

BILLIONimely – focus on the time element

The marketing goals defined according to the SMART model will help your business measure the effectiveness of any communication strategy. Besides, you also have a basis to evaluate the results of marketing activities; based on the predefined criteria. However, you need to note 2 very important criteria that must be met: "Achievable" and "Realistic". If your goal does not meet these two criteria, then be very careful in implementing it.

Step 2: Identify the main target customers that the business is targeting

Target audience for the plan integrated marketing communicationsp is the group of people whose demographic characteristics match the product or service the business is targeting. They can be an online or real-life audience. Therefore, companies always need to capture the specific habits and buying behavior of target customers. Most importantly, know and evaluate their ability to pay and spend money to buy the products or services they need.

Determining the right target audience will help businesses a lot in conveying the right message; by coordinating many appropriate marketing communication channels to reach the right target customers. From there, businesses can save costs and come up with appropriate marketing plans to "conquer" their hearts.

To accurately determine the target audience that your company is targeting, you can try to apply some basic principles in Marketing below:

Based on research, theory

  • Collect data and analyze them on a certain range of customers. Note that the number of relevant documents must be large enough to provide general and objective indicators.
  • Research and analysis of your direct competitors in the same field will also be a good idea to start. From there, you can completely research the customer group that both you and your competitors are targeting.

Based on practical factors

  • Go to market survey
  • Realistic observation of consumer behavior
  • Live and experience the consumer's life
  • Actual survey of communication habits of customers
  • Research and analyze customer psychology about the needs, wants, and desires as well as fears of users when using a product or service.

Step 3: Consumer Insight

Customer Insight The truth is implicitly the problems, concerns, and secret thoughts of the most typical target customers. Finding Customer Insight means you've "scratched their itch". This will bring 3 main benefits to the business. First, businesses can build more relevant messages to convey to them. The second benefit is to make the most of it integrated marketing communications to communicate that information to them effectively. Finally, it is possible to stimulate the target customers' curiosity and desire to experience the product.

Although Customer Insight brings many benefits to businesses; But don't forget that Insight won't be right for everyone. Moreover, the psychology and behavior of consumers are always changing day by day. Therefore, identifying Customer Insight requires Marketers to have a solid knowledge base. In addition, they need to have a strong "feel" for the information customers have collected.

A few guidelines you can put in place to find this Customer Insight include:

  • Collecting (collecting information) 
  • Connecting & Digging Deeper
  • Crafting (manual arrangement)

Step 4: Big Idea – Idea

Big idea in IMC plan
Big Idea is the heart of the whole campaign and the direction for all message transmission activities

When grasping the Insight is understanding the problems of the target customer. The next task of marketers is to come up with a suitable idea; It aims to solve those problems, also known as Big idea.

If conquering a certain girl makes you put all your heart, all your mind; so that you get her “nod” in return; Once the Big idea is successful, the business receives a lot of nods from customers.

Big Idea is very important for Campaign marketing. Because, it is the heart of the whole campaign. At the same time, it will be the direction for all communication implementation activities and will last throughout the campaign so that the audience can really understand what you want to convey.

In addition, there are 3 main notes you need to pay attention to about Big Idea. First, Big Idea must be feasible, budget-friendly and capable of achieving your goals integrated marketing communications. Second, Big Idea must come from Customer Insight. Otherwise, that Big Idea won't be able to solve the customer's problem. Third, Big Idea needs to clearly show the role of the company's brand. Only then will people know, like and remember your brand.

Step 5: Implement an integrated marketing communication plan

Implementation of the IMC plan
Bringing Big Idea closer to customers you need to develop it into a more detailed plan

To realize Big Idea closer to customers; then you need to develop it into a more detailed plan. You need to answer the following questions. This helps you identify the elements needed for the execution of the plan:

  • Time, cost, budget for each specific period
  • Key activities are also known as key hooks and key communication activities are also referred to as key messages
  • What are the complementary activities for each stage?

Fully answer the guiding questions above. It will help you in developing an implementation plan integrated marketing communications detailed and clear.

However, not the plan integrated marketing communications must also follow the 3-stage standard. Specifically, from Trigger through Engagement and to Amplified; Because today's consumers are busier and busier, they can rarely be present in all 3 phases.

Therefore, it is difficult for them to grasp the information as well as understand the main message of the whole campaign. From the above challenges, a new marketing trend has been applied. It's all about investment and planning integrated marketing communications from one to two stages are "quality" but will "go viral" the most. This is considered an extremely effective and smart strategy.

Case study – “Going back” by Bitis

"Going back" is a campaign that marks the return of Bitis' strong and "more powerful than before" in the past year. Instead of dividing this campaign into three different time periods; and then Bitis continues to choose the right key hooks and KPIs. Then Bitis was flexible and chose to reposition its brand in only one aspect.

Firstly, Bitis has skillfully created a lively debate among young people about "going" or "staying". The next step, they released a viral clip (trigger phase) to neutralize; with the message go to know what you need and know what is valuable to each person and then come back and appreciate those values.

From here, we can see that all 3 stages are condensed into one stage by Bitis; with a key hook is a viral clip. It can be said that the entire success of this campaign is due to the strategy of “Simple but Powerful enough” – simple but powerful enough; helped Bitis from the old and outdated brand have a spectacular comeback. And then Bitis became a brand, a trend that was enthusiastically welcomed by young people.

Step 6: Evaluate the effectiveness of the integrated marketing communication plan

evaluate integrated marketing communications plan
The evaluation of the IMC plan should not be skipped after the campaign has been completed

Evaluate the effectiveness integrated marketing communications as one of the final steps; but it is no less important. Yet this evaluation step is overlooked by many marketers.

After the end of a media campaign. Your business can base on the data collected from customers and implementation costs with the expected goals and budget to evaluate the effectiveness. The basic content of the assessment includes:

  • What is the impact of the campaign? in terms of customer sentiment towards the company's brand.
  • Target customers' brand awareness
  • Feedback from customers (both positive and negative)
  • Spread and awareness of the campaign against
  • Ability to remember and understand media messages
  • What is the impact of customer buying behavior? by campaign integrated marketing communications.

In addition, you also need to evaluate your competitors' communication activities; in the enterprise phase you are implementing the IMC plan. You can judge based on the index SOV/SOI. To draw lessons from that and make adjustments for the next activities.

Evaluate the effectiveness integrated marketing communications After each campaign carefully can bring many benefits to the business. Especially in terms of time, cost and increased communication efficiency for businesses.

3. Conclusion

A plan integrated marketing communications requires a lot of effort, time and money. But in return, your business will have a worthy return. Because it will most likely make a difference for the business; compared with competitors in the eyes of target customers in terms of brand recognition and engagement. Are you ready to build an integrated marketing communications plan?

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