Integrated Communication Mix (ICM) Meaning and Importance
Integrated Communication Mix (ICM) is an approach to planning communications that gives your small business the potential to get better results from your campaigns and reduce marketing costs. Rather than relying on individual marketing efforts, like a print ad campaign, an integrated approach simultaneously makes the best use of the multiple channels available to modern businesses. By integrating tools such as advertising, direct mail, social media, telemarketing and sales promotion, you provide clarity, consistency and maximum communications impact.
Advertising is often the most prominent element of the communication mix. In fact, marketing and advertising are often misconstrued as the same thing. Advertising includes all messages a business pays to deliver through a medium to reach a targeted audience. Since it involves the majority of paid messages, companies often allocate significant amounts of the marketing budget to the advertising function. While it can be costly, the advertiser has ultimate control over the message delivered, since it pays the television or radio station, print publication or website for placement.
Importance of Integrated Communication Mix (ICM)
- Receive Better Results
In the traditional approach to marketing communications, businesses and their agencies plan separate campaigns for advertising, press relations, direct marketing and sales promotions. Integrated campaigns use the same communication tools to reinforce each other and improve marketing effectiveness. In an integrated campaign, you can use advertising to raise awareness of a product and generate leads for the sales force.
By communicating the same information in press releases and feature articles, you reinforce the messages in the advertising. You can then use direct mail or email to follow up inquiries from the advertising or press campaigns and provide prospects with more information. To help convert those prospects to customers, you can use telemarketing to sell directly or make appointments for the sales team. An active online presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter provide a further set of tools for reaching out to your customer base.
- Creative Consistency throughout Channels
In an integrated campaign, the different tools feature the same creative treatment. By repeating the headlines, key phrases and images in each communication, you ensure that prospects and customers receive consistent messages each time they see one of the elements of the campaign. Creative consistency helps reinforce the basic campaign themes by increasing the number of times prospects see or hear the same message. By working consistently through several different channels, you can better build awareness of your business name, brands, offers, catch phrases or other messages you emphasize.
- Overall Cost Savings
Creative consistency in your integrated campaigns can also save you money. By using the same images and adapting the same copy for different media, you reduce copy-writing, design and photography costs. Expensive video production output can be used in multiple media like television, YouTube and Facebook. If you work with external communications suppliers, you may be able to reduce agency fees by working with a single firm that offers integrated communications services, rather than separate specialist agencies.
- Aligning with Customer Preferences
An integrated campaign helps you provide customers with information in the format they prefer. Consumers and business customers can specify if they want to receive product information via email, direct mail, text message or telephone. Clients that you do not reach directly can still benefit from your campaigns by viewing your print ads or hearing your radio and TV spots. Integration ensures that customers and potential customers receive the same information in all communications. You can also meet the needs of customers who search the Internet for product information by integrating your website design and content with other communications.